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    Rare occupation from the first year of issue.

    1800 Charleston FISHER Slave Hire Badge. Number 55. A flat even-sided octagonal tag with a hole at the top for suspension, 42mm x 40mm. The "ATMAR" hallmark stamped on the reverse denotes manufacture by Ralph Atmar, Jr., a one-year only maker. He was a goldsmith and engraver whose parents had been banished from Charleston in 1781 by the British because they would not take the loyalty oath. Ralph Atmar, Sr. brought his family back to South Carolina in 1782 and later became a messenger of the state house of representatives. The elements on the obverse are as follows (top to bottom): an engraved "No 55"; "FISHER" in individual punches; and "1800" punched. This excavated badge is in fine condition with some light surface roughness, a dark patina, and the expected verdigris. Note that there is no "Charleston" on these first year badges. Ex Gilbert G. Steinberg Collection.

    Although Charleston had licensing laws and issued badges to hired-out slaves as early as 1764, none of these badges are known to have survived. The law that called the badges offered here into existence was passed in July 1800 to go into effect in mid-August of that year. It mandated that masters who hired slaves out as laborers would have to purchase a badge for the slave to wear with fees dependent upon the occupation. The City Gazette of September 3, 1800 announced: "Denomination and Price of said badges are as follows: Huckster, not under thirty years of age, six dollars per badge. Mechanic, three dollars. Porters and cart and dray men, two dollars. Washers, Fishers and Hired Servants, one dollar." There were 2,116 badges issued in this first year indicating that more than 20% of the slaves in the city of Charleston participated in this system. The Fisher is one of the rarest occupations and, according to our research, this particular badge bears possibly the second lowest number known for this year, making it one of the earliest produced of all Charleston slave hire badges and the cornerstone of any advanced collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2010
    22nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,255

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