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The Boston Globe

Magazine

First Person

Free book appraisals: Do you have something valuable?

Through his frequent lectures, Ken Gloss, owner of Boston’s Brattle Book Shop and an “Antiques Roadshow” appraiser, separates trash from real treasures.

Colleagues and competitors think I go to these library talks and drive away with a truckload of rare books. That never happens. Probably 95 percent of what shows up is not valuable. One of the things that was so surprising was that people were thrilled to find out their books weren’t worth anything. It sounds counterintuitive. But they can give an old book to their grandchildren or donate it to the library book sale; they don’t have to worry about it anymore. If you say it’s worth $30,000 to 40,000, that’s a whole different story.

I did a talk recently in Dover, New Hampshire, at the library. A man had one of those album books that you sign. The first signature was Abraham Lincoln’s. Then his complete Cabinet and the Senate and Congress at the time. It was probably a $10,000-plus item.

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