At one of America's oldest bookshops, there are just as many stories to be told outside the pages as in them. Join Brattle Book Shop proprietor Kenneth Gloss and co-host Jordan Rich as they share insightful and entertaining conversations and histories surrounding Boston's favorite spot for bibliophiles. Topics range from military autobiographies to regional cookbooks and everything in between. Updates every two weeks.
Brattlecast #120 - The Limited Editions Club
Today we’re talking about some of our favorite titles from the Limited Editions Club. Founded in 1929 by George Macy, the L.E.C. brought together leading artists, illustrators, book designers, and typographers to produce beautiful editions of classic works of literature, which were then distributed to club members on a subscription basis. Only about 1,500 copies of each title was published, and they were usually signed by their author, illustrator, or both. While many of their titles have fallen out of fashion today, some are still highly collectible; James Joyce’s Ulysses, with art by Henri Matisse (who hadn’t read a word of the book and instead illustrated six scenes from Homer’s Odyssey), and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland signed by Alice Hargreaves, the “original” Alice for whom the book was written.
Speaking of subscription-based media, we would encourage you to subscribe to the Brattlecast if you haven’t already, and to share so that your friends can join the club!
Brattlecast #119 - 20,000 Books!
Just another day at the Brattle: Ken gets called out to a house to look at “about 500” books, but when he arrives he finds three floors and a basement crammed with mysteries and sports biographies; some rooms are so full he can’t even get into them. Unusually for a house like this, the books are in perfect condition; a dust jacket cover has been applied to each one, and many of them are even signed by their authors. At the end of the day it ends up being more than 20,000 books. Ken and his team are still working on getting this massive library moved to the shop; it will take them literally years to sell them all. Learn about the logistics of a book-buy this big, and about the surprising connection between the real estate market and the secondhand book trade, on today’s episode.
Brattlecast #118 - The Militia of Massachusetts Bay
Today we’re taking a look at a Massachusetts Militia pamphlet from 1758. ‘The Exercise for the Militia of the Province of Massachusetts Bay’ is a guide to forming and equipping a local militia, consisting mostly of rural farmers who would train part time and fight only when necessary. We’ll also talk about the history of militia groups in America, from colonial days to their sometimes controversial present-day iterations.
Brattlecast #117 - The First American Bible
Today in the studio we have a very special item: a single page from a copy of the first Bible printed in Colonial America. Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God, also known as the Eliot Indian Bible, is a translation of the Geneva Bible into Natick, a previously unwritten dialect spoken by the Algonqian peoples of Massachusetts (British publishers held a monopoly on the publication of English-language Bibles, so none were printed in America until after the revolution). This Bible was the work of John Eliot, a Puritan missionary, and a team of Algonquin translators. Printed in Cambridge it took over 14 years to produce. You can view the full Bible here and learn more about its laborious, painstaking creation on today’s episode.
Brattlecast #116 - Self-Service Food Stores
Today we’re talking about Self-Service Food Stores, a 1946 book published by the trade magazine The Progressive Grocer. The book evokes the enormous post-war changes in the way that Americans shopped for food, as a world of milkmen, butchers, and mom-and-pop grocery shops gave way to gleaming new supermarkets that offered lower prices, pre-packaged goods, and seemingly unlimited selection. These changes were made possible by the newly built highway system, advances in preservation and refrigeration, and produce imports from overseas. In this episode we reflect on how quickly the once futuristic supermarket has come to seem like the most natural way to buy groceries, and the possible social cost of all that convenience and fresh fruit.
Brattlecast #115 - On the Roadshow
In this episode Ken takes us behind the scenes of Antiques Roadshow, GBH’s long-running appraisal program. Filming a season of Antiques Roadshow offers more than a shot at PBS fame and prestige—you also get to take a vacation to an offbeat city (or a road trip through a few) and socialize with a tight knit community of fellow appraisers. We’ll hear about how it all works, what it takes to get your item on TV, and some of Ken’s most memorable moments from his years on the show.
I thoroughly enjoy listening and visiting Brattle Book Shop. Every book I have purchased has been unique and interesting!
A must listen for book collectors, you'll learn so much. Love Ken's stories!
Absolute gem to listen to
The stories and presentation are wonderful and a great listen. Facinating the stories tied to the old store.