Rare book sells for £15,000 at Aylsham auction

PUBLISHED: 16:12 27 September 2012

The first English edition of The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli.

The first English edition of The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli.


A tiny book with a big price tag has sold at the second time of asking - for £15,000.

The rare first edition of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, discovered by chance in a Norfolk home, failed to sell at Keys in Aylsham when it went under the hammer priced at £25,000 to 30,000 in July.

Today the 300-page, 14.5cm x 9cm book went back before bidders, but this time with a reduced guide price of £15,000 to £20,000.

And the reduced price had the desired effect, with a British collector successfully bidding £15,000 to take it away.

The English first edition of the seminal Renaissance book, dated 1640, was spotted by Andrew Bullock, head of the book department at Keys, when he was going through a late gentleman’s collection at a relative’s request.

Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a historian, diplomat, philosopher and writer based in renaissance Florence and is regarded as the founder of modern political science.

His greatest work, The Prince, was written around 1512-1513 and is regarded as the first work of modern philosophy.

Machiavelli believed that a prince had to separate public and private morality in order to rule, which could occasionally require methods including brute force and deceit.

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