Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Rare MECHANIC Slave Badge from the first year of issue.

    1800 Charleston MECHANIC Slave Hire Badge. Number 183. A flat octagonal-shaped tag with a hole at the top for suspension, 40mm x 43mm. The "Atmar" hallmark on the reverse at the top denotes manufacture by Ralph Atmar, Jr. 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 183"; "MECHANIC" in individual punches; and "1800" punched. The condition is fine with some light surface roughness and a dark brown patina. Note that there is no "Charleston" on these first year badges.

    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 2116 badges issued in this first year indicating that more than 20% of the slaves in the city of Charleston participated in this system. The Mechanic is one of the rarer occupations and, according to our research, this particular badge is the third 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.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2007
    26th-27th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,561

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2019 February 16 Americana & Political - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $614,788