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‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was first unfurled for public view in a September 1814 issue of the Baltimore Patriot & Evening Advertiser.

In a 113-lot Open Book sale of June 2-18 a very rare example of that historic issue was bid to $260,000 (£209,675).

As Christie’s New York (25/20/13.5% buyer’s premium) noted, what officially became the American national anthem in 1931 was originally called ‘The Defence of Fort M’Henry’ by Francis Scott Key, the Maryland lawyer who wrote the lyrics.

It was so named because it had been inspired by the sight of a flag flying over the fort while he was aboard a British naval vessel, negotiating the release of Dr William Bearne, a physician being held by the British during the War of 1812.

The work was subsequently retitled and set to the tune ‘Anacreon in Heaven’, a popular English drinking song.

Just three copies of that Baltimore newspaper containing this first version survive.

This copy sold at Christie’s was one of two owned by the American Antiquarian Society (itself founded in 1812) and it was sold to benefit their acquisition funds, though there had been hopes that it might make as much as $500,000.

LP artwork


George Hardie’s 1969 artwork for the sleeve of Led Zeppelin’s debut LP, sold for $260,000 (£209,675) at Christie's New York.

Also sold at $260,000 was a very different lot that bore a high estimate of just $30,000: the original 1969 artwork for the sleeve of Led Zeppelin’s debut LP.

Created at the suggestion of the band’s founder, Jimmy Page, it is a re-working of one of the photographs taken by Sam Shere as the German airship Hindenburg fell in flames from its New Jersey mooring post in 1937 – a disaster memorably and horrifically documented in live newsreel footage.

The LP artwork was produced by George Hardie, who at the time was still a student at the Royal College of Art.

Not far behind these two lots in this very mixed sale, at a near double-estimate $240,000 (£193,550), was an 1845-48, three volume, first edition set of Audubon & Bachman’s The Quadrupeds of North America. Containing 150 hand-coloured litho plates and in a modern binding, this set was sold by the Delaware Art Museum.

Other colour plate collections included, at $90,000 (£72,580), an 1836-44 first edition of McKenney & Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America with its 120 coloured litho plates.


A spread from Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel… of 1565 that returned to auction after only eight years to sell a little under estimate at $55,000 (£44,355). Its 120 woodcuts of bizarre creatures are generally attributed to François Desprez and owe much to Bosch and Brueghel, but it is thought that reference to Rabelais’ Pantagruel was simply a means of drawing attention to what has been described as a display of buffoonery and the grotesque. When the extensive collections of Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow were sold in the same Christie’s NY rooms in 2013 this copy made $80,000 (then £52,320).

Early printed works included a beautifully illuminated 1479, Treviso (sixth Latin) edition of Pliny the Elder’s Historia naturalis. In a 17th century binding bearing the arms of Counts of Ottoni, it made $60,000 (£48,385).

Another lot sold at that sum was a rare 1511, first Latin edition of Ludovico Varthema’s hugely influential account of his undercover travels through the Ottoman Empire, Safavid Persia and India.

One of the more remarkable travel books of the Renaissance, this was the only example recorded at auction in the last 40 years and was last seen at Bloomsbury New York in 2000, when it made $48,000.


Depicting a rather suspicious looking Chippewa chief known in English as ‘The Figured Stone’, this plate comes from a copy of JO Lewis’ 'Aboriginal Folio' sold at $60,000 (£48,385). Though planned to run to 10 parts, each with eight plates, costs bankrupted the publisher while part nine was in the press. A 10th part did eventually appear in limited numbers. but a projected ‘Historical and Biographical Description of the Indians’ was never completed. Most recorded copies have only 72 plates, as here.

British works

An original drawing by EH Shepard of Mole and Ratty from Wind in the Willows sold for $24,000 (£19,355) and yet another first of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at $55,000 (£44,355).


A signed first of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, sold at a record $55,000 (£44,355) at Christie's New York.

A very different literary work was a signed 1925 first of Mrs Dalloway. This copy had an occasionally chipped and tape repaired example of the jacket designed by her sister, Vanessa Bell, but was also signed on the title page by its author, Virginia Woolf.

It sold at a record $55,000 (£44,355).

This copy had emerged from the library of Chicago philanthropist Elizabeth Paepcke (1902-94), who, with her husband, the industrialist Walter Paepcke, is credited with turning the sleepy ski town of Aspen, Colorado, into a world-class resort.