Chairs have one main purpose, but they are made in many shapes, sizes and types of material.

Pictures show chairs in ancient Egypt, but they were not in common use until the 16th century. A king or religious leader had a very large chair (throne), often with arms that had elaborate decoration. Other people sat on stools.

But by the 18th century, chairs were part of everyday life for the rich. The standard shape included a high back, wooden seat, four legs and perhaps arms. But the largest chair in the house, the seat of power, was for the husband.

That tradition still remains. Dining-room chair sets have one or two larger armchairs and about six to eight narrow chairs with no arms. Catalogs for manufactured office furniture made from about 1850 to the present include a large chair for the company president, smaller chairs for salesmen, and narrow, lower chairs or stools for secretaries.

By the 1900s, woven wicker, metal and plastic all allowed designers to create new types of chairs. The new plastic and mesh chair introduced in 1994 was less expensive and more comfortable than the standard wooden chairs used for 100 years. It was so popular, it replaced the old wooden chair, and many small wooden chair companies were forced out of business.

Iris pitcher

Q: I have a clear glass Jeannette Iris and Herringbone 9-inch pitcher that has an inclusion from the manufacturer. How does this affect the value?

A: Inclusions are imperfections in the glass that happen during production. They usually don't affect the price. Some collectors like to buy pieces with inclusions because they are unique, although most only want perfect pieces. Iris & Herringbone, usually called "Iris," was made by the Jeannette Glass Co., of Jeannette, Pa., from 1928 to 1932 and again in the 1950s and '70s. Pieces in clear glass and in several colors were made. Reproductions also have been made. Clear Iris pitchers sell for about $40.

Terry and Kim Kovel will answer as many letters from readers as possible through the column only. For return of a photograph, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope. Write to: The Kovels, c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The website is kovels.com.

current prices

Prices are from shows nationwide.

Poster bed, Chippendale-style, mahogany, carved, fluted posts, shaped footboard, broken arch crest, molded plinth, 1900s, 87 by 60 by 82 inches, $70.

Dulcimer, Appalachian, four-string, tiger maple, signed Keith K. Young, Annandale, Va., 1993, 36 1/2 inches, $115.

Doorstop, cottage, flower-covered, woman, cast iron, Eastern Specialty Co., 5 1/2 inches, $240.

Lamp, electric, Moravian star shape, multicolor glass panels, chain, hanging, 1900s, 16 1/2 inches, $245.

Roseville, jardiniere, Geese pattern, Arts & Crafts, green matte glaze, navy band, Rhead, 10 by 13 inches, $300.

Poster, Champion Female Bicyclers of America, two women on high-wheel bicycles, Miss Hattie Lewis and Miss Lulu Gordon, color lithograph, early 1900s, 21 by 30 inches, $505.

Clock, blinking eye, Topsey, painted, hugging arms, green and yellow dress, red high button shoes, cast iron, about 1900, 16 1/2 inches, $650.

Toy, Merry Makers Band, four mice, drummer, piano player, dancer, conductor, tin lithograph, Louis Marx, about 1929, 9- by 8-inch $770.