Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coins
Gold: The theme is "The Star-Spangled Banner" (the song). It features the first words of the anthem, "O say can you see," in Francis Scott Key's handwriting, over a flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, as on the flag at the time the words were written.
Silver: The theme is, "The Star-Spangled Banner" (the flag). This side of the coin is filled with a close-up view of a waving modern American flag.
Gold: The theme is, "The Battles at Sea During the War of 1812." It depicts a naval battle from the War of 1812, with an American sailing ship in the foreground and a damaged and fleeing British ship in the background.
Silver: The theme of the design is, "The Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry." It features Lady Liberty waving the 15-star/15-stripe flag in front of Fort McHenry.
Dr. William Beanes was an elderly doctor who had been captured by the British when they invaded Washington, DC, during the War of 1812. On September 7, 1814, Francis Scott Key visited the British fleet in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and was able to have them set Dr. Beanes free — but not until after they finished bombarding Fort McHenry, Baltimore’s main defense.
The attack had gone on for 25 hours by the morning of September 14, 1814. When Key peered through the clearing smoke at the fort, he saw a 42-by-30-foot American flag flying proudly over it.
He was so inspired by the sight of the enormous flag that he wrote a poem about it, which he named “The Defence of Fort McHenry.” Within a month, the words had been published in papers all along the eastern seaboard, with Key’s note that they should be sung to the tune of a popular British melody, “To Anacreon in Heaven.”
After 100 years, the anthem was still popular and was by then known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that the anthem be played at military and naval ceremonies. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a resolution that officially designated “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem of the United States.
The Star-Spangled Banner coins commemorate the 200th anniversary (bicentennial) of the writing of our national anthem. Their designs symbolize the War of 1812, particularly the Battle of Baltimore, the basis for the anthem’s lyrics.