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  • Listing ID : 199
  • Country : United States
  • State, Region : South Carolina
  • City : N Charleston
  • Address : 5070 International Blvd, Suite 116
  • US Shipping/Insurance fee: $50.00
  • International Shipping/Insurance fee: $0.00
  • Current bid : No active bids
  • Total due incl. Shipping/Insurance fee: $6,050.00
  • Published: 04/15/2020
  • Modified: 06/01/2020

Description :




Very Rare Signed Back "LaFar" - Guaranteed Genuine

Exceedingly rare slave badge with stamped "Charleston, No. 571, Porter, 1819", 2.25" X 2.25", with a small punched hole at the top for it to be attached to the slave. This badge has the LAFAR back stamp! This badge is offered in as discovered condition and well above the average condition of most recovered badges, it displays a natural medium brown patina with some nice green oxidation visible from the copper. All stampings are legible.

Treasure Hut guarantees this badge to be a 100% Genuine Slave Badge from Charleston, South Carolina, in the USA created by Silversmith Joseph LaFar in 1819. WOW, that is about 200 years old!!!

Joseph LaFar, a well known Charleston silversmith stamped the badges (tags) from 1810 to 1828. The odd years (like this one) were diamond, the even years were square.

Charleston and Charleston Neck (South Carolina) were the only cities to issue these badges which had to be worn by any slave that was "hired out" within the city limits. Each year a slave owner that hired out a slave had to pay a tax and the slave had to wear this "license badge" proving that the tax had been paid. The greater the skill and training required, the greater the tax. Thus badges were issued according to "occupation" with occupations like "Mechanic" or "Carpenter" requiring the most tax.

You've heard about slaves earning their freedom? They often had great freedom to hire themselves out to others, after performing duties for their owners. Or, the owner might have rented out his slaves and kept the income.

Slaves for hire in Charleston had to wear a SLAVE BADGE (TAG), dated annually with the year, the occupation and a serial number (the records have been lost).

The Badge was basically a tax receipt and proved the slave owner had paid the city for the slave to be able to make money (that is, just another TAX!). Slaves working on a plantation only did not need a Tag, nor did slaves only working for their owner. Tags were only needed if the slave was to hire out to others for money.

The reason they are so rare is they worked much like the early car tag system in the states. Each year you would turn in your old badge and receive a new one after paying the next year's tax. The silver and goldsmiths that held the contract to make them would melt the copper back down and reuse it for the new badges. So unless a slave ran away, died or lost his badge they rarely escaped the system.

This 1819 Porter #571 slave badge with the LaFar backmark was found in dirt removed from #93 Cummings Street along with several other slave badges. At one time on this site was a residence listed as belonging to Wendall Rivers and indeed a house plate saying "Wendell Rivers #93 Cummings Street" was recovered from the dirt. In 2009, the current owner of the site, The College of Charleston, began to build a science building on this site. In order to get the dirt compaction level to sustain a building of this magnitude, the dirt at the site was removed to a level of 6 feet and hauled away and more compactable dirt was brought in. The dirt was hauled away to a site owned by Jeff Pitts. Jeff is a well-known excavator of slave badges and many other artifacts and did excavate the above-mentioned slave tag in 2009.

My extensive research has found the most recent sale of a compatible slave badge such as this one was August 27, 2015, by Raynor's Historical Collectible Auctions. Lot #40 in this auction was a # 159 SERVANT 1819 LaFar back stamped badge. This badge was for a less valuable and the most common occupation (Servant) and was not in near as good of condition (strong pitting and edge loss) as the one being offered here, by Treasure Hut today. The Servant Badge sold in 2015 for $5,332.50. So you can easily see what a great bargain the Porter Badge offered above is at $6,000.00.

Slave Badges are the ONLY 100% Guaranteed genuine relics of Slavery that can be positively dated and shown to be slaves used.

These badges are classified as tokens in the coin industry and discussed and shown in the large master Krause Token catalog but this is a very limited representation of them. There has only been one definitive book written on the subject to my knowledge and it is titled "Slave Badges and the Slave-Hire System in Charleston, South Carolina: 1783-1865" and if you wish to learn more about the badges I strongly suggest this book, it is available on Amazon.


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Local Pickup: Available

International Shipping: Contact Treasure Hut


Treasure Hut
5070 International Blvd.; Ste 116
North Charleston, SC 29418

Store - (843) 767-2800

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