Just three copies of the 1640, first English edition of Nicholas Machiavelli’s short treatise on political leadership have come to auction in this century, the last of them in 2005.
But this summer has brought not one, but
two copies of Edward Dacre's translation of the 1532 original from
which the word Machiavellian entered the English language.
In late 18th century calf, rebacked to
preserve the old spine, a copy of Nicholas Machiavel's
Prince... seen at Christie's on June 13 showed some glue staining
to the front pastedown, a couple of marks on the title and some
light pen scoring in an early hand, but it sold at a record
Those disappointed at the King Street sale
have a second chance at Keys of Aylsham on July 26-27, where another -
found during a local valuation - will be offered with an estimate
of £25,000-30,000. This, too, has a later but old binding and there
are a couple of tiny wormholes, as well as what appears to be a
thumbprint on the title, but who knows when another will come
As can be seen from the illustration here
of the title page of the Norfolk copy, the book also includes the
less familiar... Life of Castruccio Castracani of
Lucca,a work in which reference is made to others whose
criminal acts were carried out for reasons of political
The life of Castruccio (1281-1328), a condottieri, or
mercenary soldier and leader in the era of Italian city states, was
also the basis for Mary Shelley's 1822 novel Valpurga.