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Kenneth Gloss appraises a first edition copy of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Travis R. Morin)

'Antiques Roadshow' book appraiser stops by Hooksett

HOOKSETT — On Thursday night, a group of nearly 30 people at the Hooksett Public Library were treated to an evening of knowledge and entertainment when Kenneth Gloss, a frequent guest appraiser on PBS’ "Antiques Roadshow," stopped by to talk about his career and appraise a few books.

Gloss, who is also proprietor of the internationally known circa-1825 Brattle Book Shop in Boston’s Downtown Crossing, began the evening by dispelling some commonly held myths about book appraisal.

“When you talk about book collecting, someone will say ‘I have a first edition. How much is it worth?’ And I point out that most first editions never came out in a second edition, probably never should have come out in a first edition,” said Gloss.

“Nobody wants them, cares about them, or would be interested in paying for them. A book had to be important historically, scientifically, literarily, or for some other reason to be important.”

Gloss told attendees that the monetary value of a book has less to do with the date of printing than it does with other details like the condition, whether there’s a renewed interest in the subject of the book, or if a noteworthy individual has signed it.

“Of course it doesn’t need to be a signature,” said Gloss. “I had a 1930s Spanish textbook that wasn’t that great. But the student who had it was obviously pretty bored, because there were doodles all throughout the book. It turned out that student was at West Point and his name was Dwight Eisenhower. Take away the doodles, and I’d be lucky to sell it for a buck.”

After his lecture, Gloss offered to appraise any books that attendees had brought with them. While he valued most of the pieces at anywhere from $1 to $50, a man from Manchester was told that his signed copy of John Irving’s ‘The 158 Pound Marriage’ was worth anywhere from $300 to $500.

Gloss says he holds these lectures about twice a month. While he noted that most of the works he came across tended to be pretty mundane, Gloss said that there were the occasional valuable outliers.

“One time someone brought in a box of old papers. We were going through them and then they unfolded a Declaration of Independence,” said Gloss. “It wasn’t a first edition, but it was worth about a half a million dollars. It probably had been sitting in their attic since the Revolutionary War.”

Among the many organizations in which Gloss is a member is the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the USS Constitution Museum.

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