Seattle... Bill and I were on the ground less than three hours when we met our first collector, Karen Swanson, in Olympia, Washington. We quickly finished our dinners at Coco's, as we were anxious to begin trading pens. Our waitresses and the manager even got in on the act! I was sorry to hear Karen would not be attending the Saturday meeting. She left me with the promise of an Emerald Downs pen and I just received word she has one in hand. We drove through a little bit of rain on our way into Seattle. That was the last drop we would see for the duration of our vacation.
The Museum of Flight kept Bill busy while I met with the women at Topline to discuss the progress of our collector's pen. LuPita, Sandy, Beth, Mindy, Susan and Freddie were wonderful. This is a company of women, by women. A very impressive operation. My visit was absolutely delightful. Good news about the pen to follow... read on.
Saturday May 10th at 2:00 Bill and I claimed two tables at the Grand Central Bakery, in the heart of Pioneer Square. I propped a sign up on the pen box and then patiently watched and waited. Leslie Galavan and Lesley Gill were the first to arrive. They presented me with a beautiful handmade card that featured a pocket full of miniature paper float pens. As if that wasn't enough... they gave me a stunning Seattle t-shirt! Just moments later, Stacy Kaye, accompanied by boyfriend Mike, joined us.
The Bakery proved the perfect space for our gathering. It didn't take long for all of us to begin shuffling pens. A young man, in a big hurry, passed our table. Turns out he is also a float pen collector. There must be hundreds of us. Another woman stopped to say she collects Pez. Takes all kinds.
Float pen collectors are an exuberant bunch! We couldn't talk fast enough. Leslie is lobbying to have a Starbucks pen made. I understand she now has a distributor onboard and Starbucks has been presented with the idea. As a coffee lover, this is very exciting news. The only thing we ran out of was time. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways just after 4pm.
My aim was true and led me straight to Ruby Montana's Pinto Pony. Ruby tells me she is thinking about two new pen designs. One must include Louie, the little black dog that charms her customers at the store. The other is still under mental construction. Ruby is now on-line. Visit the store at 603 Second Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 Ruby's website is still under construction, but her home page is up. (NOTE: Ruby's went out of business early in 2001.)
A customer overheard our float pen conversation. She stepped forward to say she had been sent to Ruby's to purchase pens for a very serious California collector. When I asked the name of this collector, she said 'Elizabeth Spatz'. Is the world getting smaller, or are we just getting more mobile? Maybe a little of both! Libby, you should be proud of Lisa. She is a fine scout.
I was thrilled to find a Cyber Cafe within three blocks of our motel. It enabled me to say hello and keep in touch with family and some of my on-line traders. A luxury that I would later miss. In the future, I will research cyber cafe locations on the net before leaving home!
On Mother's Day, May 11, Bill and I made our way to Sea-Tac airport and departed for San Francisco.
City by the Bay... We hit the ground running. I couldn't wait to meet my fellow collectors at the famous Ghirardelli Square. We rushed to the hotel, tore open our bags. I needed to repack essentials for the big meeting! Bill and I bussed down to the Square and inhaled a quick lunch at the Pegasus Cafe, where the meeting would take place. Then we waited. Nancy Nerenberg arrived right at 4:00.
Nancy and I jokingly decided that if we were the only two that showed up we would selfishly use the time to get better acquainted. Good thing too, because we remained alone. I didn't mind. Nancy was one of my very first pen buddies. Bill was terribly disappointed and a little distressed on my behalf. If Nancy had not come, I would have been devastated. Under the circumstances, I was pleased. Any time two friends sit down and share an afternoon, that is a great day.
By this time I had accumulated several new pens. Nancy was happy to find 17 pens she needed. She shared some tips on pen designing and brought samples of pens in progress. We spent the last half hour of our visit in search of pens. No luck, but we did find chocolate... a sweet ending to our day.
In Berkeley I stumbled over a cyber cafe and took time to catch up on email. Little did I know that would be the LAST contact I would have via the net. Finding internet service was the most frustrating challenge I faced repeatedly on my journey.
San Diego... It was lunch time when we landed in San Diego on Friday the 16th. We checked into the Padre Trail. We leisurely unpacked. Next stop, Old Town. Walked from store to store in search of float pens. Didn't like finding the large Italian pens, but they were in several stores. Damon says he has heard them referred to as Fat Boys... an appropriate label. My brother, his wife and son, Matthew, met us for dinner. So, we were off to a very relaxed start.
Saturday morning Bill and I crawled out of bed really early so I could get to the flea market and back in time to prepare the meeting room. Being Southern California I knew this would be the biggest get together of all. There are so many LA collectors, they would be pouring in. I was very excited.
My family went off for a grande tour of Old Town. Meeting times had been announced as early as 3:00. At 2:30 I began transporting pens and materials across the lot to meeting room 140. I flipped the lights on, opened the windows, and put a sign on the door. Sat down to catch up on writing postcards and to wait for my fellow collectors. By 3:55 I had written 20 postcards and found myself sitting all alone in a large room surrounded by empty chairs. So, I took the sign off the door and began moving everything back to our motel room. I must tell you, I was deeply disappointed.
About 4:05 I went to the office to once again search for a cyber cafe. Two women entered the lobby. They were waiting in line to speak to the clerk. When they finally made it to the counter, one of the women asked, 'did Diana Andra rent a meeting room here?' I was near tears when I looked up and realized this was Beverly Broadstone! Her friend Linda accompanied her on the trip down from the LA area. I was no longer alone.
Beverly is a serious float pen collector. Linda is a die-hard rubber stamp collector, struggling to avoid the float pen collectors hook. She admits she has two pens. I had to warn her, at our house we have a saying ... 'If you have one, or even two of something it's OK. But if you have THREE you are now officially a COLLECTOR!' Linda is going to proceed with caution.
We returned to my room and dove right into the pen boxes. Beverly and Linda's attendance made my afternoon complete. We shared ideas, stories, lives and PENS. Beverly even had pens that I needed, including Spielberg's DIVE. I was glad my family returned in time to meet them both. Linda took pictures of Beverly and I by the pool. Shame you couldn't come. We had a great time.
Ron Lanyi had to postpone his visit until Tuesday. He arrived about 12:30. Libby was determined to meet us later in the day. I hated to do it, but I knew my schedule was going to get crunched by evening. I reluctantly persuaded her to forego the three hour drive and stay home for some R&R.
Bill took the trolley to Tijuana and left Ron and I to our private pen party. Ron brought his super lighted View Master and some of his favorite reels for my enjoyment. I felt very privileged. It was easy to get lost in the images, truly 3-D magic at it's best. Ron collects glasses and he gave me two as a gift. The Wonderful World of Ohio glass really took me home. The second, a Tidal Wave glass from Magic Mountain, now reminds me of my big adventure.
We completed our pen trade about the same time we got hungry. Ron treated me to a very nice lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Bizarre Del Mundo. Afterwards, he suggested we visit the antique and junque shops along Ocean Beach and with that we were off. No pens to be found. We hiked out to the end of the pier to enjoy the view and a quiet moment. A humbling experience.
It was about 6 when Ron waved goodbye to Bill and I. He would face LA traffic. We would face the challenge of packing for our return trip tomorrow. Columbus, Ohio was kind and greeted us with clear skies and a warm 50 degrees. Our passage to Mansfield was brightened by the light of a full moon. As we turned onto Millsboro, we could see the house was still standing. That's always a good sign. Keogh and Minki, my kit kats, were so very happy to see us. It was good to be home.
I was fortunate to meet with several collectors and distributors along the way. At the meetings we discussed a lot of the information I am sharing with you today. I carried a photo album with pictures of my collection, displays and fellow collectors, with me at all times. It was enjoyed by all.
Bill and I were able to squeeze in most of the sight-seeing we had planned. Even met with some of craftspeople. We decided not to visit the Boeing Plant the same day as Al Gore, but it was a minor inconvenience. We could not believe that Boeing did not offer a float pen in their gift shop! The manager there said he will check into it.
As a collector, craftsperson, and traveler, it was Seattle that had the most to offer. Great city to begin our journey, but very hard to leave. In July, we will participate in the Oakbrook Crafts Invitational near Chicago. I look forward to meeting collector Angela Combest there. In the meantime, I am happy to stay home for awhile.
Media Alert... an article about float pens will appear in the next issue of Collectibles Flea Market Finds. Cathy Cook, the editor, contacted me and others, just days before the issue went to press. For those unfamiliar with the publication, it is a full-color, quarterly. It covers modern collectibles: lunch boxes, snowdomes, fast food toys, cereal premiums, many of our favorite things. They also spotlight homes of collectors, deal with display methods, and suggest fair prices.
This is the only collector's magazine I religiously pick up at my newsstand. Copies could be on the shelf as early as July 4th. Locally I find it at Barnes and Nobles. Check around now for availability. In Mansfield, it is frequently SOLD OUT.
This article will no doubt spark a fiery interest in float pens. For some, it will be there first introduction to our old friends. For me, it will be a big boost. I have been listed as a contact for people interested in collecting. It will mean more collectors to trade with for all of us.
Once the article appears, float pens won't be a sleepy collectible anymore! At least for awhile. I expect the initial effect to be temporary. Reasonable values were assigned to the pens, so I do not expect the article to drive prices up. However, you now have one month to scour your neighborhood markets and search trade lists to pick up pen inventory before the article is released.
It was Beverly Broadstone that noticed the Third Rock from the Sun episode that featured a float pen. She emailed to say, 'Yes.......they mentioned the pen at the start of the show. They focused on it for a good amount of time. Dick's students were about to attend a bachelor's party, and Dick was curious as to what the guys were playing with. So he proceeded to tilt it several times, with great exaggeration. It was a nice tribute.' I'm sure we can catch it in rerun.
New Pens... The Babar series is undergoing last minute revisions, so it is not yet in production. Traditionally, a Bright Idea series would include five pens. Imagine Babar at the Beach, or in a painter's smock. Whatever Babar is doing, he is an endearing creature. The pens will be sweet.
Bright Ideas has produced many cartoon characters series over the years. Archie, Animaniacs, Batman, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Felix the Cat, Gumby, Looney Tunes, and Popeye, are products of BI. Owner, Elizabeth Bloom, is also responsible for the many Betty Boop float pens in our collections.
Star Trek fans will flock to buy the new Star Trek series. Even Beavis and Butthead will be featured in a float pen. Can't say the boys turn me on, but as a serious collector, I must have the pen. For better or worse, they do depict 90's pop culture.
If you visit Six Flags, the Superman and Batman rides should have pens before the end of the season. Disney has at least one Hercules pen, I'm unsure if there will be more than one.
Coca Cola plans to offer 6-8 new float pen designs in Coke stores throughout the country. Contemporary and nostalgic themes are on the drawing board. The sample artwork is extremely nice.
Damon Zilly called to say that the Queen Mary pen that appeared in Mary Melton's LA Times article is once again available at the site. Walk in and pay $5.95 + tax or send $7.15 to have it shipped. YIKES! I was able to find the Official California Earthquake Detector pen, with a seismic scale on the front, from the same article. You will find it on my list for $3 under the California heading.
Collectors' Pen... When I submitted the artwork it seemed appropriate to incorporate pictures of real collectors in the pen. Likenesses of US collectors Ron Lanyi and Cheryl Vincent will appear in the left foreground. Nancy Nerenberg runs just ahead of them on the background panel.
Miranda Wittebol is in the right foreground position with Klaus Schmitz on the background panel. They will represent our European traders. The floating pen will almost disappear between the traders on each side. In the middle the mini pen will float past a globe in the background center position.
Artwork has been submitted and accepted. In this case, no news is good news. The artist is working on the design. If you are involved in the project, your $50 should be in my hands by June 21 (unless you have prepaid or made other arrangements).
Psychology of the Float Pen Collector... Our pens stir memories, induce laughter, expand our geographical horizons, and with the tip of a hand... come alive. The question has been 'Why do we collect things that float?' Perhaps the real mystery is why doesn't EVERYONE?!
Displays... 12" long x 5" wide x 2" high. Fashioned of black Melamine. Hold 22 Eskesen style pens. $14.50 postage paid, $12 per additional unit. Shipped via 2-3 Day Priority Mail.
Recent Acquisitions... you will find many new pens on this list. We were thorough in our search. Be quick to reap the rewards of my travels. Most pens are in limited supply.
I must be on a lucky streak. Memorial Day weekend, at our local flea market, I found a metal mechanical pencil with a nude woman in a short window for $2! Without hesitation, Bill bought it for me. Moments later I purchased an old Mr. Peanut float pencil in good condition for just $12! How about you? Find any cool pens lately?
The day before we left town I received a small package with five magnificent pens from Japan! I returned to find a sixth from Tey Nunn. I say this with a smile on my face. I can ask for no more... my heart is full. Below you will see some requests from other collectors in need.
Floating on pen cloud nine,
Want Lists... Special requests from fellow collectors:
Damon Zilly needs/wants (that is a debate we won't tackle right now) GUMBY pens. They were produced by Bright Ideas, so I would begin my search in the San Francisco and LA areas.
Shirley Glaettli's wants: Disney Movie pens; Planter Peanut; Rocky & Bullwinkle; North Dakota ... The Tate Gallery has a pen of a famous Pre-Raphaelite painting called The Lady of Shallot. How can I obtain this pen?
If Karen Swanson has secured a pen from Greece, I haven't heard about it. Help if you can.
Next issue of Float About should be in August. Until then ... buy duplicates to build trade power.