A second attempt will be made on Thursday to sell a tiny book with a big price tag.

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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 £25,000-30,000 in July.

Now the 300-page, 14.5cm x 9cm book is going back before bidders, but this time it is with a reduced guide price of £15,000-20,000.

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.

Also up for grabs at the auction is one of the world’s first books about motoring. Dating from 1896, Notes on Motor Carriages by JH Knight is expected to fetch £300-350.

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