During the slavery period of the 19th century, a slave on an authorized errand for his master was issued a small brass "slave badge" which he wore on a cord around his neck. This authorized him or her to be off of the master's property unescorted. These badges are occasionally still found, and are quite valuable (several hundred dollars) as collectors items.
From the description you gave, it appears the badge you have belonged to a member of a patrol unit whose job was to check unescorted black people to see if they had their slave badge. If not, these people had authority to arrest and detain them. The badge may have some value as a collectible. You should have it appraised.
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