MANCHESTER — If you’ve ever watched “Antiques Roadshow” or “Pawn Stars” or any number of shows in that realm, you’ve likely been captivated by the dream of finding old junk around the house that turns out to be treasure. If some of those aged possessions currently reside on your bookshelf, you have a great opportunity to learn more about them and — with any luck — cash in.
Kenneth Gloss, proprietor of Boston’s famous Brattle Book Shop, will be at Manchester Community Library on Wednesday, March 8, at 6 p.m. He will be giving a talk on growing up in the book business, how he approaches book and manuscript appraisal, and tips on how to build and maintain your own collection.
“When I do a talk, I don’t try to teach people about books, per se,” said the renowned antiquarian who frequently appears on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow,” among other nationally-broadcast shows. “I mean, I’ll answer their questions. But I just like to tell stories. If people leave the talk saying, ‘That was fun, old books are fun,’ that’s my goal.”
Gloss, who gives a couple of these talks each month at different libraries and historical societies across New England, says he enjoys traveling to meet other people that he might not get to meet in his award-winning book shop that’s been in his family since 1949.
Gloss said he also opens things up for a question and answer session following his talks. Following that, any hopefuls clasping their dated tomes and publications can bring them before Gloss for a free verbal appraisal.
Formal appraisals from an expert like Gloss run somewhere in the neighborhood of $375, so the opportunity for his perspective alone might be worth the trip if visitors have anything of potential value. Gloss says he much prefers to do the free and informal appraisal, though.
Gloss also says there’s a silver lining for most even if the book isn’t going to fetch them generational wealth. Most people have a surprising reaction upon finding out.
“Ninety-five percent of the people are thrilled when I tell them that, because then they don’t have to worry about it anymore. (They can) give it to the library book sale. They can give it to their grandchildren; they can read it, even. So it sort of frees them up.
“At first, years and years and years ago when I first started doing this, I thought people would be terribly disappointed. Turns out 95 percent of them are (saying), ‘Great. Now I don’t have to worry about it.’”
Gloss is happy to help and share his wealth of knowledge for free because he loves what he does. Running the internationally-known shop that boasts a stock of over 250,000 books, maps, postcards and other documents is clearly a rewarding experience for him.
“The most fun part at the bookstore is almost every day we go out to houses and estates … it’s almost like being Jim Hawkins on Treasure Island every day,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to see — the treasure hunt aspect of it.”
Gloss added that the people he meets along the way are a close second to what he enjoys about the job.
“The people who either work here or will come into the bookstore … most people who are interested in books are fun, nice, interesting people.”
According to a press release on the event from Gloss’s publicist, Victor Gulotta: “Among the many organizations in which Kenneth Gloss is a member are the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, the New England Antiquarian Booksellers of America, the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the Committee for the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair and the Boston Society. He also is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society as well as serving on the Board of Overseers of the USS Constitution Museum.”