Rare book by Machiavelli fails to sell at Keys auction in Aylsham

A rare English first edition of Machiavelli's The Prince, estimated to be worth �25,000-�30,000, failed to sell at Keys auction in Aylsham today.

The top bid, from a London dealer, was �18,000, according to Andrew Bullock, head of Keys' book department.

Mr Bullock unexpectedly discovered the seminal renaissance work, published in 1640, among the effects of a Norfolk man after his death.

'The top bid wasn't quite enough, which was a bit disappointing,' said Mr Bullock.

He would be talking to the dealer to see whether he would increase his offer but, if not, the book would go into Keys' book sale on September 27.

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Mr Bullock said the current economic climate meant that people in the book trade were less inclined to buy such a work just to place with their stock, as they had done five or six years ago. Many would only bid nowadays if they had a client in mind. He added: 'This is a very important book and any serious and wealthy bibliophile ought to have it in their collection.

Machiavelli is regarded as the founder of modern political science.

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