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Copper badge with the raised decoration of a pileus cap supported by a staff at the center. The descriptive word, "Free" (in all capital letters) is stamped on the cap with raised lettering. The legend "City of Charleston" is stamped in an arc at the bottom within a border of notches. Some decorative chasing appears on either side of the cap and the issued number of "156" is hand engraved below. A pressure void opposite the cap design can be found on reverse.
These badges were dispensed as a method of identifying freed people of color within Charleston's city limits. The law did not require these badges to display dates indicating they were likely valid for life, with perhaps an annual renewal fee imposed by the city. Issued for only six years, the Free Badge Law was repealed in 1789.
Ancient Romans used the pileus cap to designate the free status of former slaves.