Purse: $250. Lawmakers’ pix: priceless

One gem stood out in the Everybody Wins! literacy gala’s recent silent auction.

Stuck alongside a $250 beaded purse, a birthday cake package and other items was something called the Congressional Collection, whose value was estimated as “priceless.”

The prize featured signed and framed photos of several lawmakers, including Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.); and Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas).

The collection also included a signed pamphlet from Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii); a signed “The Dark Knight” movie poster from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); and a Vineyard Vines tote bag and signed book from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Surprisingly, more than an hour into the auction there were no bids on the Congressional Collection, despite the low starting bid of $100. Ninety minutes into the event, however, two women showed interest in one of the so-called priceless items.

“I like the Vineyard Vines tote,” one said.

“Oh, yeah,” her companion replied.

Minutes passed, and the item got its first bid — only to have the bidder return and scratch out her name.

But just before the auction’s close, someone named Rachel Fenton came to the item’s rescue. She was the only bidder. (It at least fared better than other auction items; one organizer stomped through the room and huffed, “Nobody bid on my flute lessons.”)

Fenton is a legislative director for Ehlers. She had no comment on her bid, but urged other staffers to get involved with the literacy organization.