Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Today in History: The Star-Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner: A Pariotic Song.
Baltimore: Printed and sold at Carrs Music Store, 36 Baltimore Street, [1814].

The lyrics of "The Star Spangled Banner" come from "Defence of Fort McHenry," a poem written by Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British during the War of 1812. Upon seeing the fort's flag still flying on the morning of September 14, 1814 after the attack ceased, he began jotting down the lines of a poem on the back of a letter that was in his pocket. Renamed "The Star Spangled Banner" and set to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a popular British song, it eventually became the official national anthem of the United States.

This rare first edition of "The Star Spangled Banner" is one of eleven known copies. It was purchased for the Library in 1966 by the Clements Library Associates and friends of the library in Flint. Howard H. Peckham, Director of the Library, wrote, "It is the single most important piece of music in our history. To bring it to Michigan will provide the state with its only copy, and one of only two copies not confined to the East Coast."

Of the eleven first edition copies, ten are in institutions or public libraries.On December 3, 2010, Christie's sold the recently discovered eleventh copy, the only one in private hands, for $506,500.

Further Reading:
  1. Oh! Say Can You See… Rare First Edition of The Star Spangled Banner to be Sold at Christie’s in December 2010
  2. Auction of first edition of 'Star Spangled Banner' tops $500,000

1 comment:

Anne Marie said...

Thank you Clements Library for all you do to preserve our history for the benefit of all.

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