1856 Porter Slave Tags (Charleston, SC). Sheet of 12 on lead. Slave tags were only issued by the city of Charleston and Charleston Neck (SC) from 1800 to 1865. BACKGROUND: Slave tags were a form of licenses issued to slave owners who leased out their slaves for specific jobs. The city earned a fee of $2 per year, per tag, and the slave owner earned a fee for the slave's earnings as a leased-out laborer. Each tag was holed at the top and was required to be worn by the hired slave during his or her period of servitude. The various known occupations for slave tags include servant, porter, carpenter (rare), mechanic, fruiterer (very rare), fisher (rare), cook (rare), drayman (rare) and seamstress (rare). A couple of other trades are believed to exist, but no specimen is known today. Charleston had 15,354 slaves in 1830 and 14,673 in 1840. About 12 to 20 percent saw work as hired-out slaves during that period.
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