The antiques auction catalog stated there was a rare and valuable "veilleuse" in the next sale. That is a descriptive word a seasoned auction-goer would understand, but the antiques meaning is not in most dictionaries. It is a French word that, when translated to English, means "sofa." The second meaning in large dictionaries is "small night light."

But the current meaning for antiques buyers is an object that is used to warm drinks near a bedside as well as serve as a night light. A small teapot was added to the veilleuse in the early 1800s. The teapot was heated by an oil lamp.

A three-part Gothic Revival veilleuse, made in about 1840, was auctioned in May for $1,476. It was decorated with hand-painted views of people inside a cathedral. The teapot and borders were covered with gold glaze. White beading was on most horizontal edges. The auction catalog said it might have been decorated by Darte. A 1950s French book about French porcelains identified the Darte brothers as makers and decorators of porcelain vases and serving pieces, which would include a veilleuse, in Paris after 1825.

Thonet chairs

Q: I found a set of six bent plywood chairs tagged "Thonet." They look midcentury modern, and have a molded seat and an upright piece that supports a shoulder-height backrest. Do they have any value?

A: Midcentury modern furniture is popular today. Thonet is a well-known maker known for its bentwood furniture. Michael Thonet (1796-1871) began making bentwood furniture in the 1830s. He and his sons opened a factory in Vienna in 1853. The company still is in business and makes modern furniture and a modernized version of the original chair. A set of six molded plywood chairs recently sold for $350.

Ideal slow cooker

Q: I have an "Ideal" chest slow cooker with round heating stones made by the Toledo Cooker Co. The metal label reads "No. 18, Patented April 14, 1914, Patented July 7, 1914." Can you tell me about it and its possible value?

A: The patents were granted to Charles E. Swartzbaugh, who invented the fireless cooker. He founded the Peerless Cooker Co. in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1884. The company was renamed the Toledo Cooker Co. about 1900, after it moved to Toledo. By 1916, the company was making two lines of fireless cookers, "Ideal" and "Domestic Science."

The cookers worked something like today's slow cookers, but were heated by hot stones, not a flame. Metal cook pots were set into a wooden box or chest insulated with asbestos. Cooking could be started early in the day and kept warm to continue cooking for several hours, which saved fuel and kept the kitchen cool. A recipe booklet issued by the company in 1917 claimed that the Toledo Cooker Co. was the largest producer of fireless cookstoves in the world. The value of your cooker is about $100.

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

current prices

Prices are from shows nationwide.

Pedestal, oak, carved, column shaft, turned base, four paw feet, about 1920, 30 by 12 3/4 inches, $70.

Map, New Orleans, color, parishes marked, Rand McNally Atlas, mat, frame, 1892, 13 1/2 by 11 inches, $120.

Picture, memorial, flowers, human hair, deep shadow box, oval, applied floral rim design, about 1880, 13 1/2 by 12 inches, $150.

Trivet, hearth, kettle stand, brass, pierced platform, spread-wing bird, turned wood handle, wrought iron frame, penny feet, 14 by 15 inches, $230.

Hall tree, Art Nouveau, oak, carved, shield shape beveled mirror, copper plate coat hooks, upper shelf, slatted back, glove box, umbrella stands, drip trays, England, about 1900, 75 1/2 by 31 by 11 1/2 inches, $385.

Quilt, Amish, patchwork, Barn Raising, black, lavender, cotton, Pennsylvania, early 1900s, 66 by 64 inches, $565.

Pedal car, Murray, Torpedo, Buick, pink painted body, nickel and black trim, 1950s, 36 inches, $765.

Silver sugar vase, waisted, footed, geometric scrolled handles, bird shape cast finial, 11 inches, $840.

Automaton, singing bird, on branch in cage, brass, Germany, early 20th century, 12 by 6 1/4 inches, $1,185.

Rookwood jardiniere, multicolor leaves, standard glaze, incised Kataro Shirayamadani, about 1890, 10 1/4 by 7 inches, $1,840.