FLOAT ABOUT... © Copyright January 1998 Issue #13
Happy 1998 to one and all!... For those that sent Christmas cards, or meant to send cards... that was great. For Bill and I it was an extremely stressful season. We barely had time to enjoy Christmas. For the first time ever, we did not mail a single holiday card. We reviewed the list of pen collectors, family, friends, Turn of the Century clients, and found ourselves overwhelmed by the task. Know that in our hearts, we truly appreciated the warm thoughts and wish all of you the very best in 1998.
Media Alert... How much time will you spend looking for the remote control before you realize your TV still has a set of control buttons? Five minutes? Time for a stress test. Remember when remote controls were first introduced? I righteously remarked, "That will be the day, when I can't get off my butt to change channels!". Oh how the mighty have fallen... and I have the butt to prove it.
If one of your New Year's resolutions involves weight loss, join the club of millions. I have an extra incentive to become a member. Fox TV, Personal FX (the collectibles program), has asked me to do a live segment. This will take place at their Manhattan studio, sometime during the week of March 10-13. The exact broadcast date has yet to be determined. I will be contacted in February.
It's only going to be a three minute peek into float pen collecting. The script has yet to be written. I have been assured a 99% chance of getting on the air. I only hope I do not embarrass you, or myself. We plan to arrive Monday, March 9th and stay through the 13th. While in NYC, I am going to make every effort to meet with Cathy Cook, the editor of Collectibles Flea Market Finds. Since the article was released this summer, Cathy and I have maintained contact. She is truly a sweetheart. I can't wait to meet her. I never miss an issue of the magazine. She does a tremendous job.
When the date is chosen and the details confirmed, I would like to set aside a day to meet with collectors in the region. If you have any ideas about where we might congregate, I'm listening.
Collector makes a media splash... Christian Andres, a serious collector and designer from Berlin, sent an amazing package my way. A magnificent full-color magazine called, Pen Plus. It is dedicated to pens of a more elegant nature... namely, fountain pens.
On the back cover, a fabulous color ad features a Cartier pen. On the inside there is a two page spread of float pens in full color and a photo of Christian. The article, in German text, extends for an additional two pages. I hope to translate it soon.
I had to chuckle when I saw the article. Some months ago I spoke to a fountain pen collector. He wanted to know if I had any "good" pens for sale. In turn, I wanted to know if he finds float pens.
His indignant reply was, "Yes, and when I do... I throw them away!" What a snot! If I could remember who this guy was, I would love to send him a copy of Christian's article. Coverage of float pens in such a prestigious publication lends credibility to the product. Of course this isn't news to us, we recognized their quality long ago.
Christian has designed several pens. If you are interested in his work be sure to contact him. He is a serious collector, so he also enjoys trading. Find him listed in the Pen Exchange column. The illustration to the right was taken from a postcard. It is an example of how Christian cleverly brings float pens to life.
© Christian Andres
Beverly Broadstone actually witnessed the Peter Gabriel Steam video that provides a brief glimpse of a float pen. Beverly wasn't sure, but she thinks Peter is the floater within the pen.
Anne Polster and Debra Seltzer were the first to alert me about the December 15th Newsweek's coverage of cool souvenirs to purchase while visiting New York's Broadway. The Titanic pen, created for the play, was pictured. I will attempt to track them down during my March trip.
Kristen Langness sent a postcard from Puerto Rico to ask if I caught the December 3rd Ellen episode. That night I was chained to the computer desk instead of my bead table... so I missed it!
As I understand it, Ellen gets a job at a radio station and the sports jockey, in an attempt to impress her, presents her with his own personal float pen. Of course it featured the jockey, in tip 'n' strip fashion (I think). If you missed it, you too will have to wait patiently for the rerun.
A journey to Eskesen... Nancy Nerenberg, accompanied by her two children, visited the Eskesen factory in Denmark. They had a delightful trip and tour. In addition, they met with Klaus Schmitz and his family at their beautiful home in Germany.
Nancy, an avid pen collector and talented designer, recently unveiled a spectacular website. Visit her there to get better acquainted. Take time to explore every page. I am sure, in time, she will post the details of her wondrous journey. www.floatart.com
Snake oil and such... I am always disappointed to receive a pen with a foggy or scuffed window. These conditions are usually due to rough shipping or handling. Ginny Hamme, introduced me to a miraculous product that erases surface scratches from plastics. It is incredible. I know you will agree. Unlike the harsh compounds of years past, (designed primarily for military use), this product has been refined. It can be used safely on plastics of all kinds. Yes, even Bakelite, Lucite and plexiglass.
As a float collector, the real appeal is that it can often restore a clear view to float pens and plastic snowdomes. If you have a house full of music lovers, it works great for repairing scratched compact discs too. Bill gives it thumbs up!
It is estimated that a 1 oz bottle will remove scratches from 100 float pens. Keep in mind, a facial wrinkle is not a crease, nor is a scratch in plastic a gouge. This eraser is not going to remove or repair deep abrasions. There are two formulas available. #2 will remove light scratches. #3 will go to work on heavier scratches. I recommend #2 for float pens.
It's easy to use. Apply gently, allow to dry, and then polish to remove. Repeat steps if scratches are not totally removed with the first application. Both formulas are offered at the beginning of the list.
Twist 'n' Clicks.... Can they be refilled? Yes! How? That's a darn good question. It was suggested the refill could be removed by grabbing the tip with a pair of pliers and pulling it out. I succeeded in removing the tip of the refill, the rest remained inside. What a mess. With caution, I tried to twist the bottom barrel off. It wouldn't budge. I fear a more strenuous crank would certainly have cracked something. The problem is under investigation. The experts have been consulted. I will get back with you. If you have discovered the secret, speak up.
New pens... If you haven't already heard, the collectors pen has been released. They arrived at my door December 23rd. I was able to ship them to all participants the same day. The 21 collectors involved in it's creation are listed on the caption panel.
Pictures of real collectors were used as models to represent our collectors around the world. I volunteered their photos without their knowledge. They were each quite surprised. The thought of using nameless, faceless, clip art people seemed a little ludicrous, especially when I had a handful of photos in my album that would make the pen more unique and personal. Some of you have inquired about the collectors behind the photos.
The people on the left depict the American collectors. The man wearing the Hawaiian shirt was patterned after Ron Lanyi. Cheryl Vincent's photo inspired the blonde in the yellow sweater. A likeness of Nancy Nerenberg stands in the left, background position.
The European sector is proudly represented by an image of Klaus Schmitz in the background and Miranda Wittebol in the foreground. The real star of the show is the floating float pen! It has a jet within it's belly. The pen slips back and forth from the American side to the European collectors. To my knowledge this is the first collectors' pen ever created. It is likely the first pen in your collection that features a floating pen. For lack of an appropriate spot, it appears under the Advertise column.
Madonna... yes, THAT Madonna! has her own sexy tip 'n' strip pen, available exclusively from her fan club. The pen sells for $10. (NOTE: Pen sold out soon after posting, but you can still visit Madonna's webiste.) http://www.madonnafanclub.com
Grateful Dead ... If Tom Clarkson hadn't sent this pen my way, I would not have known it existed. Check the Celebrity column to find this latest addition. The band plays on stage while the famous chorus of 6 dancing bears float by. Logos appear in the foreground. A pop culture classic for sure.
24 Hour Fitness... pen, designed by Nancy Nerenberg, has arrived. It appears under the Advertise column. 24 Hour Fitness is a chain of health facilities. A pudgy couple stroll hand-in-hand through the 24 Hour Fitness gym. They pop out slim, trim, and happily sprint away. So much fun.
Lady and the Tramp pen... is a superb example of Disney at it's best. It features the classic scene where the two dogs share a single spaghetti noodle. As Lady nibbles, Tramp is drawn closer to her. The detailing in the foreground is spectacular. A must have. Find it under Cartoons.
Studebaker rides again... Heads up auto buffs, the Advertise column has two new Studebaker arrivals. You won't be disappointed in either design. A third design will be offered in the next issue. Thank you Kate Kelly, for pointing me in the right direction to obtain these beauties.
A brand new pen with several classic 50-60's “Rock 'n' Rolls” cars is also in. Another spotlights “The Classics” from the vintage years of auto making. These are found under the Autos category.
The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace... provided two pens on the latest list. The creator of the pens, Luke Stedman, had tidbits of information regarding the inspiration behind the pens. He tells me the Air Force One pen was created from a photo of the actual plane that President Nixon used during his historic peacemaking travels to China and the Soviet Union.
The second, President Nixon's Whitehouse Limousine, depicts the actual Secret Service-modified 1968 Lincoln Continental. The Guinness Book of Records listed this limo as the "most expensive car ever built". This same car traveled with President Nixon to 32 countries around the world.
The limo can be seen at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. If you live in the area, or plan to visit the vicinity, add it to your list of must see attractions. Call Luke at 1/800-USA-8865. If you are unable to make the journey, you will find the pens under the Politics column of this list.
Coca Cola... At this point I am unable to obtain the new Coca-Cola pens for you. If you can not wait a moment longer... mailorder the pens from The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. Each item is in it's own blister pack with colorful labeling. The packages can be opened and resealed. There is a $6 shipping charge per package (not per pen). Items available:
The phone number for The World of Coca Cola is 404/676-8776 (regular business hours). Ask for George, he is very accommodating. Team up with neighboring collectors to save on postage. Be sure to tell him Diana at Float About sent you. No... I don't get a kick back! I promised I would share this info with my fellow collectors. I just want George to know that I kept my promise.
Boise Catalog... The Boise University Fabulous Floaty Pen exhibition was quite a success. Their website has grown by leaps and bounds. You will find their www address within the other website listings. A handful of pens remain from the exhibit, find them under the Events column.
In addition, I have several program catalogs available. Float pen illustrations appear on the front and back covers. Lists of contributors, distributors, and all of the pens displayed, are on the inside pages. It measures 17" long x 5.5" wide. This presented a shipping challenge. How to transport without creating an additional crease? It requires sandwiching them between two pieces of stiff cardboard. It costs $1.50 to ship + $2.50 for the catalogue, $4 total. Add another $2 for each additional copy you order.
Wheels aren't turning... I had hoped to make more spinning wheel displays in February, for myself and extras for others. I can see now this is not going to happen. Thinking about my accountant reminds me that every pen transaction that I engaged in for 1997 has to be documented. SO, my taxes will likely take several days longer to prepare than normal. Also, I am way behind in my craft production. The unexpected trip to NY will also be deducted from what would have been display play time.
The Simplicity of Display... Paul Bartman has been collecting pens of all kinds for many years. He remodeled his attic space to accommodate his phenomenal collection. Paul openly admits float pens are among his favorites. His pen collection is as uniquely varied as his display methods.
His attic walls are covered with framed cases designed specifically for pen display. Pens stand at attention, arranged neatly in rows, on the bed of a wooden semi truck. Book cases hold a diverse group of wooden shapes: animals, cars, even a train, utilized in the same manner. I have seen these wooden cut-outs offered at country craft fairs. They are often sold as crayon or pencil holders for children. Some are brightly painted or decorated, while others bare their natural wood finish. Remember this... ANYTHING that can be drilled is a potential pen display.
Paul created his first display in 1986. Even though he had to give it up due to lack of space, it remains his pride and joy. Paul used a 6'x6' window blind and loaded it with pens. The pens were attached horizontally. His initials 'PHB' spelled out with pens takes center stage on the display. Pretty impressive. Special thanks to Paul for sharing his display ideas. Wish I had a better photocopy.
Shipping dilemmas... Despite careful packaging and handling, we frequently receive pens with bubbles. Once a package leaves our hands, we loose sight and control of the pens inside. It is impossible to imagine the conditions a package will be exposed to along it's journey. We do know exposure to extreme temperatures of hot or cold will cause bubbles to appear.
This time of year, Ohio weather can be extremely cold. That is why I never place my outgoing pens in my mailbox for pick-up. I drop them indoors at the Post Office window. That is about all I can do to be sure that while the pens are in my control they are not exposed to freezing temperatures.
Incoming pens are another matter. I assume packages are loaded into the mail truck early in the morning. They remain in a fairly cold truck for hours until they move to the front of the truck. My postman's delivery tray rests immediately on top of his heater. Then the packages are placed in my freezing cold mailbox. Short of getting a PO Box and having all packages delivered there, not much can be done. If you have a PO Box, be sure to direct pen packages there during inclement months.
Miranda Wittebol... is pictured wearing a t-shirt she designed as appropriate attire for float pen hunting. Miranda, and boyfriend Dik, are considering a trip to the States. They live in Holland, so this will be a very expensive undertaking. To make the trip worthwhile, she wants to meet as many collectors as possible! She anxiously awaits your ideas and suggestions.
Psychology of the float collector... We live in exciting times. The approaching Millennium has somehow enhanced that excitement and whipped some of us into a state of static frenzy. It's no wonder we turn to what some might consider leisure activities, such as collecting, to escape the madness.
The items we choose to collect are as varied and unique as their collectors. In my quest to find likenesses between us, there are but a few tangible common bonds. As a group, we are composed of men, women, and even young children. Occupations vary considerably, but we do have several teachers on board. Out of curiosity, I continued the Zodiac survey. To date, the water signs still have the lead. Also, the majority of us collect other items in addition to float pens.
In my quest for likenesses among us, there is one name that pops up over and over. My email address book is indexed by first name. Amy, Barb, Bill, Carol, Deb, Elizabeth, Judy, Kathy, Laura, Mark, Michelle, Richard, repeat two or three times. The name Karen appears four times. That's nothing compared to Nancy. It is immediately apparent that Nancy is the most common name between us. There are 10 of them! That doesn't include the handful of others on my snail mail list.
In my lifetime, I would guess that I have know, or attended school with, a total of three girls named Nancy. In the future, when introduced to a Nancy, I am going to say, 'Let me guess. You collect float pens?" It's almost a sure thing.
About the Millennium. For those that believe the world is going to come to an end... I'm sorry. It must be difficult for you to get up in the morning. I wish there were something I could do or say to ease your worries. Truth is, we have no idea what the Millennium will bring. If aliens from outer space are going to land, as some have predicted, I can't wait to see their float pens!
Next installment... of Float About will hopefully be released no later than mid-April. My preferred method of distribution is obviously email. It's free to you, and me! If I do not have an email address for you, please send it to me as soon as possible. It saves time, money and resources. It is, by far, the most efficient means of communication.
Snail mail recipients... If you are an active trader, or place an order, you will automatically receive the next issue free of charge. For those that are not interested in buying or trading pens, but want to continue to receive hardcopy of the newsletter... please send $2 per upcoming issue. You can send check, money order or postage stamps, but I must do something to offset the rising costs of printing and postage.
Remember, even if you are not connected to cyberspace, you can take advantage of others that are! Many local libraries provide free internet services. I'm sure there is someone there willing to assist with instruction. Feel free to visit my website and print or download all of the Float About issues for your own personal use and reference.
Websites... Explore all the sites! (* indicates a new listing)
Collectors Unite! ... Are you suffering from cabin fever? Frustrated by the lack of float pens to be found on the shelf? 'Tis no longer the season to be jolly. We have entered the dead zone. The months of January-March seem to be the most difficult period to uncover new pens. Note their are several new names in the collector's exchange column. Chase those winter blues away... trade! Collector Unite Page
I would like to introduce our youngest enthusiast... Laura Grimes. Laura is just 12 years old, but has been collecting for several years. She has a strong list of Seattle area pens to trade. You won't be disappointed in her trade performance. She is prompt and quite sharp. (NOTE: email defunct; removed 11/13/12)
Until next time... keep your head above water.
If that doesn't work, it's ok, you can float!