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Alas, they still haven't found the missing star.

But several fragments of the 30-foot-by-42-foot star-spangled banner that flew over Fort McHenry after the Battle of Baltimore are up for sale this week at a Boston auction house.

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Pre-bidding is under way for the 3-inch-by-3-inch swatches of the flag, a smaller version of which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that became the national anthem. Bidding at RR Auction began at $10,000 but is expected to go much higher. Live auction bidding will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Fort McHenry's commander, Maj. George Armistead, famously commissioned "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance." After the climactic battle on Sept. 13-14, 1814, Armistead kept the flag as a memento.

When the flag was given to the Smithsonian Institution in 1907, about eight feet had been snipped away. It's believed that many of these pieces were distributed by the Armistead family as souvenirs.

To bid on the fragments, go to rrauction.com or phone 800-937-3880.

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