Rare freedman’s tag found

A relic hunter found this City of Charleston Free Badge, circa 1783, at a Cooper River plantation.

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 Wednesday he was advised that the tag, circa 1783, may be worth $20,000 to $30,000. 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 has been a relic hunter for 40 years, and always turns his findings over to property owners.

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