The Prince first edition sells for $24,500 in UK auction

A rare first edition copy of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince has sold in a UK auction held yesterday (September 27).

Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince first English edition 1640
The Prince had a strong influence on leading figures such as Henry VIII



The first English edition, printed in 1640, was originally set to sell in July, but failed to meet its £25,000-30,000 estimate. Now re-valued at £15,000-20,000, it just met the low estimate, selling for £15,000 ($24,334).

This was presumably due to the relatively poor condition of the book, which was missing its backstrip after being discovered by chance in a Norfolk, UK home. A first edition copy in good condition with a contemporary binding can be worth as much as £46,000 ($75,000).

The Prince is regarded as one of the first works of modern philosophy, and caused a stir upon its initial publication in 1532 due to its direct conflict with the Catholic Church's view on politics and ethics. It focuses on how a prince can obtain power, and often disregards all moral and ethical rules, using existing leaders as examples.  

The book's far-reaching influence was felt throughout Europe, with Henry VIII's chief minister Thomas Cromwell obtaining a copy shortly after its publication. References to both the author and his work can be found in Shakespeare and Marlowe.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a number of rare books and manuscripts currently available. Among the highlights of our collection is Henry VIII's personal divorce plea, which triggered one of the most important political events in English history.

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