Columbia man finds rare freedman’s tag in Lowcountry

Provided Columbia relic hunter Hal McGirt found this City of Charleston Free Badge, circa 1783, at a Cooper River plantation site. The rare tag could be worth more than $20,000.

A very rare tag worn in the late 1700s by a Lowcountry free person of color was unearthed recently by a relic hunter from Columbia.

Hal McGirt, who discovered the piece of history in February at a Cooper River plantation site, said today that he was advised that the tag, circa 1783, might be worth $20,000 to $30,000. But, he said, the tag will not be marketed and will stay with the family that owns the property on which it was found.

He did not reveal the exact site where his metal detector helped turn up the City of Charleston Free Badge No. 320. While tags once worn by slaves are somewhat common, freedman’s tags are quite rare, he said.

McGirt said he’s been a relic hunter for 40 years and that he always turns his findings over to property owners.

“Determining the history belonging to the object, that’s where the fun comes in,” McGirt explained.