Poulin Auctions is honored to offer the only complete date set of Charleston slave hire badges known (1800-1865), 146 badges in all! The legendary Harry S. Hutchins Jr. Collection includes the only examples known of several badges including 1804, 1808 & 1809

inv # 02-13438

The only two identified badges; one an 1815 Mechanic is engraved “Robt Cheevers, 251 East Bay” who was the slave working at that address. Charleston was a port of entry for over 60% of the Africans that came to America destined to become slaves. Today, evidence of their presence can be seen in their handiwork, in the bricks they made, in the iron they wrought & in the houses and buildings they built. The only city in America that issued slave hire badges was Charleston / Charleston Neck. These hire badges tell a story peculiar to Charleston, and tell a tale of slavery and not-slavery. Those who wore the badges often had a symbolic ticket to another way of life. Although these badges could not literally transport their wearers to geographic freedom, they could nevertheless unlock the power of metaphor and simile. Those wearing them could act AS IF they were free. For if a slave put on a badge, he or she could often act as his or her master, act as if he or she had control of his or her own destiny.