Two superbly documented fragments from "The Star Spangled Banner," the very flag that flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, MD on Sept. 13, 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words to America's national anthem, has sold for $65,725.
The piece auctioned as part of Heritage Auctions' $1,361,858 June 25 Signature Arms & Militaria Auction, and included 19.5% Buyer's Premium.
"The Star Spangled Banner is the most famous example of America's most potent symbol," said Dennis Lowe, Director of Civil War and Militaria Auctions at Heritage. "These mere fragments of that important flag brought a final price realized quite in line with that significance."
The auction saw 925 bidders vying for 954 lots, resulting in an 89.22% sell-through rate by lot value.
"Overall we were quite pleased with the results of the sale," said Lowe. "Collectors were enthusiastic about the offerings and responded with solid, competitive bidding."
The history of these amazing fragments is rock solid and indisputable.
The flag, which was commissioned in Baltimore by Brevet Lt. Col. George Armistead in 1814, went home with him after the battle at Ft. McHenry, where it stayed for the remainder of his life, passing to his wife upon his death and subsequently to, first, Armistead's daughter and then to his son, who loaned it to the Smithsonian in 1907. In 1910 the gift was made permanent.
These fragments were donated in the early 20th century to the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Museum in Philadelphia (a treasury of the holdings of that patriotic order organised just after Lincoln's death in April 1865 by Civil War Union military officers) by former Union officer, author and all-around Renaissance man John Heysinger. His clean script details the fragments on the manuscript mount.
While the $65,725 example sold at Heritage is a high-end example, flags and their fragments also offer affordable entry-level investments to collectors. Examples for sale elsewhere on the markets include a small piece from an Ensign Flag carried onboard Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Meanwhile, American battle flags were the top order of the day at Heritage, with four of the top 10 lots in the auction being flags.
Besides the top lot, as related above, the other three flags in the top echelon of the auction all related to the Civil War, with the Confederate Battle Flag of the 37th Mississippi Infantry, retained by the family of Col. Orlando S. Holland since the Civil War and offered for the first time in this auction, bringing $50,788.
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