The History Behind the Silver Thing in Front of Boehner

Boehner
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) listens as President Barack Obama (L) delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. Mandel Ngan/Reuters

Updated | As Barack Obama, the President of the United States, addressed the nation with his State of the Union Tuesday night, a shiny object just above his head on speaker John Boehner's desk proved a distraction to some viewers.

That object is an antique inkstand, dating back between 1810-1820, with three crystal inkwells inside it. According to the United States House of Representatives archives, the coin-silver inkstand is placed on the rostrum before the Speaker calls the House to order.

It was created by J. Leonard, a Washington silversmith and watchmaker, and historians estimate it has been in the House since 1819.

Boehner
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) is greeted by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) prior to delivering his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. Mandel Ngan/Reuters

The inkstand is quite ornate, each foot of the tray has a snake wrapped around it with a swag on one side and eagle on the other. The symbols represent unity and wisdom. And now the historic artifact sits near Boehner's frowny face.

The History Behind the Silver Thing in Front of Boehner | U.S.
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