First edition copy of “The Star-Spangled Banner” up for auction

Published on November 24th, 2010 | by Admin


Looking to own a piece of American history? A copy of the first edition sheet music for “The Star-Spangled Banner” is set to hit the auction block.

It’s estimated to go for $200,000 to $300,000 at the sale early next month.

Christie’s auction house says it’s the only known copy in private hands and one of only 11 first-edition copies known to exist. The others are in institutions or university libraries. The auction is scheduled for Dec. 3.

Francis Scott Key wrote a first draft of the poem in September 1814 after witnessing the British bombard Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

The poem was then set to music and publisher Thomas Carr rushed the song to print, resulting in typos and Key’s name being omitted. The first edition also called it “A Patriotic Song.” The song wasn’t officially recognized as the national anthem until 1931.

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2 Responses to First edition copy of “The Star-Spangled Banner” up for auction

  1. Kevin Lynch says:

    This is the famous piece. Though, regarding rarity, there are many, many pieces of 19th century sheet music that are rarer than this. Reputedly, the amended version of the Star Spangled Banner is even more wickedly scarce. I’m just hoping the sale draws interest to the study of 19th century popular music and it’s publication. We are in real need of scholarship in this area.

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