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Some seats in Congress are available - really

One can still buy a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, an actual wooden chair used at meetings of Congress. At least three House chairs used in the mid 19th century have sold since 2003. Most of the others that are known are in museums and private collections.

The House of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol was remodeled in 1873, and all of the furnishings made in 1857 by the famous New York City firm of Bembe and Kimbel were sold to the public. The oak chairs were designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, the architect who designed the Capitol extensions constructed in the 1850s. The top of the chair back has a carved crest with a federal shield and oak leaves, which represent strength. The back, arms and legs were carved with oak leaves, bell flowers and scrolls. These chairs have sold for $16,100 to $18,800.

Not a pot of gold

I have had an old pottery teapot for years and was going to put it in my garage sale the other day. But my husband looked at it and said we should check with you before we get rid of it. It's decorated with a biblical scene showing Rebekah at the Well and is covered in a dark brown glaze. The mark is "Rockingham Harker, Rebekah at the Well, 1840."

Harker Pottery Co. was incorporated in East Liverpool, Ohio, in 1890, but the Harker family had been making pottery in the area since the 1840s. Your teapot, however, is part of Harker's Rockingham line, which wasn't introduced until the 1960s. The line revived the shapes and glazes of original Rockingham ware first made in Rockingham, England, in the 1830s and '40s, then copied by American factories later in the 19th century. Your Rebekah at the Well teapot was copied from an original said to have been made in East Liverpool by James Bennett, one of the Bennett brothers famous for their 19th century American pottery. Your teapot would sell today for about $30.

Hang up the flour

About 25 years ago my aunt, who was from Germany, gave us a granite- ware kitchen container with a wooden, hinged top. The back of the container is flat and has a hole so it can be hung on the wall. The stenciled color decorations on the container include the word "Mehl." What was this container for?

We checked our German dictionary and discovered "mehl" means "flour." Your container, a flour canister, was designed to be hung over a kitchen counter.

Questions of general interest will be answered in the column. Send questions to Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.


Current prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

* Dwight Eisenhower metal license plate, "I Like Ike," image of Eisenhower, white-and-red ground, 4-1/2 by 9-1/2 inches, $115.

* Chuck E. Cheese 20th anniversary cookie jar, marked K&L Enterprises, 1997, 15-1/2 inches, $150.

* Willie Wirehand wood display, black and white, National Rural Electric Cooperative Assoc., screw eye, 1950s, 28 inches, $200.

* Gunsmoke Matt Dillon U.S. Marshal lunchbox, metal, with thermos, 1959, Aladdin Industries, $305.

* Flip the Frog doll, velveteen stuffed, wire for posing, Dean's Rag Book Co., 1930s, 8-1/2 inches, $335.

* Tiffany glass compote, blue favrile, etched floral garland, raised on ribbed circular base, c. 1900, signed, 4-3/4 inches, $2,935.