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    1820 Charleston MECHANIC Slave Hire Badge. Number 175. A nearly flat square-shaped tag (as they were in even-numbered years during this period) with clipped corners, a hole for suspension, 51mm x 54mm. "LAFAR" hallmark punched on the back indicating manufacture by Charleston silversmith John Joseph LaFar. The elements on the front are as follows (top to bottom): "*CHARLESTON*" in a crescent-shaped bar punch (the L affected by the suspension hole); "MECHANIC" in a rectangular punch; "No" in a square punch followed by an incuse "175" in individual punches; and "1820" bar punched. This particular example was recovered in 2000 from dirt removed at Market Square in downtown Charleston and was featured on the cover of North-South Trader's Civil War. The appearance of this badge is very pleasing with dark brown fields with a bit of olive in the lower areas and some red on the highlights (likely from a light cleaning at the time of excavation). The stampings are all very clear and strong.

    The Mechanic occupation is considered to be scarce- much rarer than the Servant or Porter tags. It likely replaced the earlier used Carpenter term as the handicraft tradesman category. The authors of Slave Badges and the Slave-Hire System in Charleston, South Carolina, 1783-1865 make an interesting observation about the 1820 badges. Estimating "...that only 2,050 badges might have been sold" and based on the U.S census figure of 12,652 slaves in Charleston that year, they postulate that "...16 percent of the slave population could have been wearing badges."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2006
    7th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,578

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