Slave Tags, Slave Hire Badges,

Slavery Tokens, Anti-Slavery & Black History -

Fixed Price & Mail Bid Sales of Historical Americana.

If YOU are interested in collecting SLAVERY tokens, Slave Tags, Anti-Slavery Tokens or medals, etc., please let me know YOUR interests via e-mail at hartzog@exonumia.com. We stock a wide variety of Slavery medallic items. We occasionally have Slavery paper items, slave bills of sale and restraints. We also offer other BLACK HISTORY items, such as a Colored Troop Civil War Dog Tag (sold!), medals and tokens featuring blacks, etc. We do NOT offer Slavery images, autographs, manuscripts, clothing or post-Civil War artifacts (except tokens and medals), Sorry!

Our Mail Bid Sale #10 featured FIVE Charleston Slave Tags, plus other Slavery and Anti-Slavery tokens and medals. Copies are available, with prices realized.

FAKE and FANTASY SLAVE TAGS & TOKENS.

Unfortunately, with the increase in popularity and price of genuine slave tags, the crooks and con-artists have moved in. For more information, click on the above link. I have LOTS more images to upload...

GENUINE Slave Tags - Slave Hire Badges:

These are all genuine, original Charleston Slave Tags, or Slave Hire Badges. Owners of slaves wishing to rent out their slaves, or slaves with extra time available to hire themselves out, were required to pay an annual tax to the City of Charleston. Proof of payment was shown by the wearing of Slave Tags, with stiff fines for non-compliance. Slaves who only worked on their owner's plantation did not have to have tags. The earliest known dated tag is 1800, although earlier dates have been reported. Until recently, the latest known dated tag is 1864. I have owned both! A number of occupations are known to exist, with the most common being Servant and Porter. Next in rarity is Mechanic. All other occupations are scarcer. The only other known city issuing Tags is Charleston Neck, a suburb of Charleston. Some other cities supposedly issued tags, but ALL tags from other cities that I have seen are obvious modern fantasy pieces. DO NOT buy any Slave Tag without a written guarantee!

This is NOT a complete census of known Tags. There are over 60 Tags known to exist in public museums. Tags exist in variations not listed here, such as double-stamped Tags, pieces with the silversmith name on the obverse instead of the reverse, minor line-arrangement differences, those with and without "No." before the number, etc. If you have a Tag, please send a clear image, with size in millimeters.

Occupations: Please note I have attempted to list only verified pieces. If I see it, or a clear picture, or if it is reported by a knowledgable and reliable dealer, I consider it verified. The following occupations have been reported for Slave Tags over the years. However, the last few have NOT been verified!

Servant: Both Servant and Porter are 'relatively' common.
Porter
Mechanic: Scarce
Fisher or Fisherman: Very Scarce
Fruiterer: Very Scarce
House-Servant: Rare (see 1800 Tag)
Carpenter: Rare
Huckster: Very Rare. A Huckster is a retailer of small articles, esp. a peddler of fruits and vegetables, hawker. While there were originally some reservations about the only reported specimen, due to differences from other Tags of the same year, a new find shows the exact same date lettering as the Huckster Tag.
Seamstress: Reported in the Slave Museum, Charleston, not verified. Rare.

Blacksmith
Cook
Boatman
Bricklayer
Wagoneer
Drayman: The only known specimen is a modern fake.
Spinster
Merchant: Reported, "none known in private hands", not verified.


NOTE: This page does NOT include many genuine Tags known to exist, due to a lack of time. There are over 100 Tags known to exist, with many Tags reported but not verified. This census is fairly complete for pre-1811 Tags. If you would like to report your Tag, please send me a clear digital color image, or photograph. Thanks!

For more information, buy the booklet on Slave Tags. For updated and more complete census records, click on the link for each section.


Undated Freedman Slave Tag, ca. 1790: The first Slave Tag, the only FREE Tag, "City of Charleston", engraved number, and "Free" on Liberty cap on pole, uniface, oval, top holed. Please note these have been faked. Rare.

Free Slave Tag #33: In the collection of the American Numismatic Society, previously sold in the Lyman Low 8th coin auction of 10 June, 1885, for $2.10. At some time, in the Martin Jacobowitz collection, then to the ANS.

Free Slave Tag #156: In the collection of the Charleston Museum.



1800 Atmar Slave Tags: The first verified dated Slave Tag. All 1800 Tags are octagonal, with the occupation, date and engraved number, with "Atmar" silversmith stamp on the reverse. The occupations of "Mechanic" and "House Servant" are known to exist. Note that these do not have the word "Charleston" on the Tag, but are firmly attributed to Charleston by the Atmar stamp. All are rare.

Ralph Atmar Jr. was a Silversmith in Charleston, from 1793 to 1803. From 1797 to 1799 he was in partnership with James Monk: Atmar & Monk. In 1799 he advertised as a silversmith at No. 20 Broad Street. Born 1767, died after 1803, date and place unknown.

1800 Mechanic. #349. Recently sold by me.

1800 House Servant #88: Sold by the late John Ward.

1800 House Servant #170: Featured on the Antiques Roadshow.


1801-1807 C. Prince Slave Tags: These are typical of later date tags, with "Charleston", the occupation and date stamped into the Tag, with the number stamped or engraved. Some 8-sided C. Prince Tags have been reported, but not verified. Most of these tags have the abbreviation "No." preceeding the number. All Tags from this era are reverse stamped "C. Prince". Despite extensive research by serious Charleston area collectors, nothing is known about Prince.

However, I suggest he might have been "Clement Lampriere Prince", a large landowner in Mount Pleasant, SC, who came from a family of ferry owners. Prince was the chairman of the Christ Church, Charleston, in 1804, and operated Prince's Ferry across the Cooper River to Charleston. In 1810 he was no longer chairman, and was in charge of repairing the church pulpit. Obviously more information needs to be done on him. While a landowner could have made these Tags, it would be difficult to verify.

"SH" suggests "C. Prince" was Charles Prince, a silversmith in Charleston. I am waiting for additional information at this time.

1801 Servant #191 (number engraved). "Charleston"/"No." 191/"Servant"/"1801" all devices bar-punched, except the number. Round, top hole. "C. Prince" reverse stamp.

1801 Servant, #437. Reported by "CC", possibly from a book image.

1801 Mechanic: reported by "JH".

1802 Servant #73 (number stamped): "Charleston"/"No." 73/"Servant"/1802. Both number and date are hand-punched. The 1802 date may be a single punch, but it appears from the photo that the numbers are individually punched. Round, top hole. "C. Prince" reverse stamp.

1803 Servant #689 (number stamped): "Charleston"/"No." 689 /"Servant"/"1803" all devices bar-punched, except the number. Round, top hole. "C. Prince" reverse stamp.

1803 Huckster #25 (number stamped): "Charleston"/"No." 26/"Huckster"/"1803" all devices bar-punched, except the number and DATE (single letter punched). "C. Prince" reverse stamp. Round. Note difference between this and the other 1803 Tag, with single punch for date. I have now seen an image of a Porter Tag (see next) with similiar single-letter punched dates.

1803 Porter #265 (number stamped): As above, "Charleston"/"No." 265/"Porter"/"1803". Same unusual date style as 1803 Huckster. With "C. Prince" reverse stamp.

1804 Carpenter: reported by "JH", 8-sided. Rare occupation. Probably has Prince stamp, not verified.

1807 Servant #39: ex-RAT 8/96, ex-Stacks auction of 9/1995, lot 67. Rev. C. Prince. Octagonal.

1807 Servant #159: Number hand-engraved. Rev. C. Prince. Octagonal.

1808-09: No Tags verified.


1811 Scalloped-Edges Slave Tag: An unusual square Tag, with FOUR scalloped edges, rev. stamped "Lafar". The rectangular Ford specimen lacks a serial number and is evidently cut down from a square Tag, with only the top two edges scalloped. This was the first reported specimen from this year, and the auctioneer stated it was as-made. When I viewed it, I had serious doubts and thought it was cut-down. Some time later, I discovered another similar specimen, same rectangular shape, again without the serial number. Therefore I figured they were all similar. However, in August of 2000 an intact square 1811 Tag was found. Consequently, the rectangular 1811 Tags are cut down, for some unknown reason.

1811 rectangular Servant, with 2 scallops: The Ford specimen, sold at auction, lot 1167. 51x41mm.

1811 rectangular Servant, with 2 scallops: Owned by dealer "DL", sold, viewed by myself. A different specimen than the above, small cut on reverse, from near center to upper left. H. Berk 8/96

1811 square Fisher, No. 92, with 4 scallops, Lafar on reverse, minor bends, green patina.

1811 square Servant, No. 374, with 4 scallops.


1810-1828 LAFAR: Slave Tags from 1810 to 1828 are stamped "Lafar", for John Joseph LaFar, a well known Charleston Silversmith (b. 1781, d. 1849). From 1814 to 1828, Tags were square in even-numbered years, and diamond-shaped in odd years.

1810 Fisher "No. 49": Shown on the Antiques Roadshow. Octagonal.

1824 Mechanic "No 103" With LAFAR silversmith stamp on obverse. A rare, undug specimen. While difficult to see, there is a small burr at the top of the hole, attesting to it never being used! The word "Charleston" is slightly double struck. Some light green patination, but one of the nicest condition tags seen. From a photograph.

Chicago Historical Society An 1829 Porter tag. Also see this page for 3 other tags, including a Fruiterer.



1827? J.J. LaFar Slave Tag: One Tag stamped "J.J. LaFar", the brother of John LaFar, is known to exist.


1829-1865 Slave Tags: Are not stamped with Silversmith marks. All are diamond shaped, except an 1847 square Tag. A poor image of an 1841 Tag has been seen, with octagonal shape.

1833 Mechanic Number 136.

1839 Servant Number 1623, dark green.

1843 Servant. Number 1068. A choice brown specimen. Available for sale.

1847 Servant Number 1004, well corroded. Square.

185? Servant Number 1302.

1865 Slave Tag: The last known year for Tags, recently verified by "JH", a double-stamped 1863-1865 Servant, serial #13, dug by "BM".


Charleston Neck: A suburb of Charleston, with the slave tag law passed in1848. Tags are known to exist from 1849 and 1850. Occupations include Servant and Fruiterer. All are very rare.

1849 Neck Servant #115: Verified.

1850 Neck Servant #117: In the collection of the American Numismatic Society, previously offered in the Elder auction of the B.P. Wright collection, 29 June 1917, as lot 1427, listed as number 177 (in error).

Neck Fruiterer: Dug up by "JH", cut in half, date/serial-number both missing.


Slave Shackles, Slave Collars, Slave Restraints:

MOST of the so-called slave shackles, slave collars or other slave restraints cannot be verified as genuine slave articles. There were white prisoners pre-1865, and the same type of devices were used for them. Early dog collars have been often presented as being slave collars. In addition, slave shackles have been recently counterfeited, artificially rusted, and passed as old. Persons interested in shackles, collars and other such items should be aware that the majority of such are either modern fakes, non-contemporary, or could have been used by whites. There is limited information on genuine articles:

Kansas State Historical Society Slave shackle.

Slave Restraints Yossie's Handcuff Collection: Pictures and descriptions of lots of restraints.

 
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Rich Hartzog
AAA Historical Americana -- World Exonumia
Buying, Selling, Auctions Since 1972
POB 4143CPA - Rockford IL 61110-0643
(815)226-0771 hartzog@exonumia.com

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