Oh! Say can you see... The $300,000 first edition Star Spangled Banner

Collectors have a chance to get patriotic in New York on December 3, when a very rare first edition of the lyrics and music of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key is auctioned by Christie's.

The sheet music will appear with an estimate of $200,000-300,000 and appear as part of Christie's autumn Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana sale.

Especially remarkable is the fact that this is the only known first edition copy of the Star Spangled Banner in private hands.

Overall, 11 first editions are known to exist in the world. The other copies are all held in institutions or university libraries - and many such institutions would undoubtedly like to own this example.

A very rare first edition of the lyrics and music of the Star Spangled Banner

Francis Scott Key's famous patriotic verses were inspired by the United States flag which flew above Fort McHenry as it was bombarded for hours by a British naval flotilla, in September 1814.

His rousing verse perfectly mirrored Americans' heightened patriotic fervour in the wake of the destruction of Washington and the attack on Fort McHenry.

Newspaper printings entitled "The Defence of Fort McHenry" swiftly circulated, including Key's verse which was combined with a well-known drinking tune called The Anacreontic Song.

Today, the Star Spangled Banner remains the United States national anthem. Popular versions include guitar legend Jimi Hendrix's instrumental rendition at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.


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