Measuring just under 6.5 inches in width, this VERY RARE, 19th century, hand-forged iron, slave collar with unusual incised detailing was recently uncovered in Texas.
Complete with functional locking mechanism and -even more scarcely found- a working key, this seldom found piece remains in excellent, all-original condition and stands as a horrid, tangible testament to the malevolence of slavery.
The collar is constructed of two, hefty, separate, semi-circular pieces of iron that are hinged together via a thick iron pin that has a "head" on either end preventing the two pieces from separating. While the interior of the collar is plain, the exterior, very unusually, has been "decorated" with incised diagonal lines cut between horizontal, incised banding at the top and bottom of each piece (see photos). The collar, thus, opens and closes at only one end.
The collar is locked and unlocked via a hand-forged locking mechanism that, amazingly, retains its original key--- an extraordinarily rare occurrence today as typically the key has been long ago lost. The locking mechanism remains smooth and is readily operable. It is unlocked by fully inserting the key and slowly turning it to the right until the pin holding the lock in place is released. To lock, reinsert the open hinge into the lock and hold in place while turning the key to the left.
An excellent and rare example of an artifact of slavery- a material reminder of the malevolence and cruelty suffered by African-Americans in 17th, 18th, and 19th century America.