Filed under: Auctions
A rare first edition of America's national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, sold at auction today at Christie's for $506,500 (including the buyer's premium), setting a record price for any sheet music sold at auction. The pre-sale estimate for the lot was $200,000 to $300,000.
Composed by poet Francis Scott Key during the evening of September 13, 1814, the sheet music was offered as part of Christie's "Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana" sale at its headquarters at Rockefeller Plaza in New York.
According to Chris Coover, senior specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie's in New York, the buyer is an American private collector. "It shows what an icon of American patriotism the Star Spangled Banner really is," says Coover.
The sellers are two retired Pennsylvania antique dealers who bought the sheet music as part of an album in 1989 for $50. The dealers only later realized the significance of what was contained in the album.
According to Coover, there are only eleven copies still in existence, including this one, though, until recently, it wasn't well known that this one even existed. "It is the only one still in private hands with all others owned by institutions," says Coover. "It is quite a rarity."
Gallery: Star Spangled Banner