Auction of first edition of 'Star Spangled Banner' tops $500,000
December 3rd, 2010
12:37 PM ET

Auction of first edition of 'Star Spangled Banner' tops $500,000

A near two-century-old copy of "The Star Spangled Banner" sold for $506,500 Friday at Christie's auction house in Manhattan.

The famed sheet music is one of 11 known first edition copies of Francis Scott Key's patriotic tune, said to be written after he witnessed the British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

The iconic manuscript was sold to a telephone bidder, who was not immediately named.

Key, then a young lawyer and amateur poet, is said to have boarded a truce vessel in the Chesapeake Bay in an effort to negotiate the release of a detained American doctor, according to documents from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

But Key was himself detained overnight by Royal navy officials to ensure their plans for the assault on the fort were not revealed to its defenders. His vantage point aboard the British ship is said to have offered sweeping views of the ensuing battle, spanning the night of September 13 to the morning of September 14, 1814.


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  1. jimjomac

    Interesting. I didn't realize that it not FSK who put it to music. I did know that the chosen music was actually a drinking song! Maybe that's why the Muslims hate us so...

    December 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard Thimble

    Half a mil...I wonder how much an idiot like that contributes to worthy causes. Well, there's half a mil more that they could've contributed.

    December 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul Royka

    I'm telling you the treasures are still out there. I've been running for 10 years providing online appraisals of fine art, antiques & collectibles. I'm amazed at the items we are still finding in attics for people!

    December 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Spartacaus

    I wonder if the winner was someone in China? Since we are in debt to them.

    December 4, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar

    Such a piece of history should be priceless. Half a mil not enough. I like cold milk with my M&M's. Anybody else feel the same? Just wondering. I want to know.

    December 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |