Branding Iron with an "S" Shaped Head

Branding Iron with an “S” Shaped Head

This slave brand, recovered from Georgia, has an “S” shaped head and a wooden handle. The head would be heated in a fire or furnace until burning hot, and then pressed into the skin of an enslaved person to create a permanent scar. The process was excruciating and often used as a form of corporal punishment. Branding was also used to prevent enslaved people from seeking freedom. A person with a visible brand marking them as a runaway would find it more difficult to make another escape, and their appearance would be a discouragement to others who might attempt to self-emancipate. Enslavers and companies who participated in the slave trade would often brand people with their company name, or initials, as a form of identification, the same way they would farm animals or tobacco barrels.