Star-Spangled Banner first edition sells for $500,000

An anonymous buyer has bid $506,500 for a first edition copy of the "Star-Spangled Banner" poem, whose words were adopted for the US national anthem.

The Star-Spangled Banner (verse 1)

Fort McHenry

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

It is the only first edition of the poem in private hands, and one of just 11 that exist, Christie's New York auction house said.

Francis Scott Key wrote a first draft of the poem in September 1814.

He was inspired after witnessing the defence of Baltimore's Fort McHenry against a British bombardment.

The poem was set to music and publisher Thomas Carr rushed the song to print. It was finally adopted as the US national anthem in 1931.

Christie's expert Chris Coover said that since the poem's publication it had "become in the intervening years an absolute true icon of American history and patriotism".

Mr Coover said of the work: "I'm fortunate enough to have been here 30 years. It's the first time I've ever handled one and it's quite a thrill."

The defence of the star-shaped Fort McHenry against the British navy occurred during the Battle of Baltimore on 13-14 September, 1814.

After 25 hours of continuous bombing, the British decided to leave since they were unable to destroy the fort as they had hoped.

More on This Story

More US & Canada stories



  • Kim Jong-ilKorean kidnap

    The film stars abducted by North Korea and forced to make movies

  • scarlett Johansson7 days quiz

    Did someone try to impersonate Scarlett on the red carpet?

  • Woman reading on subwayCover shots Watch

    The disappearing books of the New York city subway

  • llamasLlama drama

    Two unlikely fugitives go on the run in Arizona

  • Girl with Pinocchio nose Busting fake CVs

    The digital technology combating job application fraud

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.