Rare national anthem score at auction in New York

Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:02pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A first edition of the U.S. national anthem sheet music, with its signature typo in the title, is set to go on sale in New York along with dozens of presidential letters and rare American documents.

The 1814 lyrics and music of "The Star Spangled Banner," the last of 11 total copies to be in private hands, will be sold on December 3 at Christie's auction house in New York.

Christie's estimates it could fetch up to $300,000.

The two-page manuscript is engraved with notes and all four stanzas of the song by Francis Scott Key. It was printed in such a rush the publisher missed a typo in the title, mistakenly calling it a "pariotic song," according to Chris Coover, senior specialist of books and manuscripts at Christie's.

"It has become in the intervening years an absolute true icon of American history and patriotism," he said.

The song, which officially became the U.S. anthem in 1931, was first printed in Baltimore. The song is said to document a British attack on an American fort, whose flag continued to fly despite aggressive shelling.

The auction, which includes nearly 600 items, also features documents belonging to Winston Churchill amassed by publishing magnate Steve Forbes.

Among them is a signed menu of an August 1941 meal between Churchill and then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. In the days after their meal of buttered Brussels sprouts and roast turkey, the leaders hammered out an agreement that came to be known as the Atlantic Charter.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; Additional reporting by Tony Pyle; Editing by Patricia Reaney)