Star Spangled Banner fragments offered for $50,000

A pair of fragments from the original Star Spangled Banner that inspired America's national anthem will sell at RR Auction.

The pieces (at the left of the frame) come from the American flag flown above Fort McHenry during its bombardment by British ships during the war of 1812.  

Star Spangled flag
 The flag pieces are the white and red squares on the left

Francis Scott Key, who wrote the anthem, was so moved by the sight of the flag flying the morning after the attack that he put his feelings down on paper.

When the war ended in 1815 the flag was presented to the commander of Fort McHenry, Major George Armistead.

It passed down to his son, who donated it to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in 1907.

Originally it measured 42 feet across, but around eight feet was clipped off by souvenir hunters before it was donated to the museum.

These pieces measure 2" x 3.25" and 1.5" x 1.25".

The lot is valued at $30,000-50,000, but could sell for substantially more due to the size of the fragments. Another pair realised $67,250 at Heritage Auctions in 2011.

It's accompanied accompanied by a letter of provenance from the great grandson of a General Attwood, who was given the cuttings from the main flag during the late 1800s.

The other fragments in the frame (centre and left) come from the flag of General Armistead's regiment, the 25th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

The auction house comments: "These swatches are exceedingly rare today.

"Rarely does the opportunity arise to obtain such an iconic piece of American history."

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