First Printing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” Is Up for Auction

The song became the national anthem following a congressional resolution in March of 1931

A copy of the "Baltimore Patriot" containing the song that would become "The Star-Spangled Banner"
A copy of the "Baltimore Patriot" containing the song that would become "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Christie's
By Carl Caminetti / May 29, 2020 6:00 am

A copy of an 1814 newspaper containing the words for the song that would go on to become our national anthem is expected to sell for somewhere between $300,000 to $500,000 at Christie’s auction house.

Up for auction starting on June 2, the September 20, 1814 edition of the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser contains the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The American Antiquarian Society is selling the newspaper, one of three prints that are known to exist and the only one to be sold at auction.

Penned by Francis Scott Key while he watched the bombing of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, “The Star-Spangled Banner” (which was originally titled “The Defence of Fort M’Henry”) became the national anthem following a congressional resolution in March of 1931 after previously being recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889.

“The 20 September (1814) issue of the Baltimore Patriot is significant not only because it bears the first appearance of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in a newspaper, but it also offers a window into the world in which it was written — chronicling the political convulsions of a nation that was bitterly divided over the War of 1812,” Peter Klarnet, the senior specialist for books and manuscripts at Christie’s, said in the auction announcement.

In 2010, two 13-by-9.5-inch pieces of paper featuring an original printing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” containing a misspelling also hit the auction block.

Christie’s estimated the value of the manuscript between $200,000 and $300,000.

See the full auction listing here.

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