FLOAT ABOUT... © Copyright Nov 3rd, 1998 Issue #17
To Float Pen Collectors Everywhere... Summer has gone and autumn will soon fade. For me, daylight savings time signals the end of tourist travel and float pen season. Do not despair! We are no longer dependent on retailers to support our pen habit. There are so many other alternatives. If you haven't tried trading, it can be a lot of fun. Be aware... it is also a fair amount of work. I am doing what I can to provide new and exciting pens with the release of each newsletter. My pen list is larger than ever before. Exciting news... a brand new addition from Eskesen...
Floating action lighters... are the newest item in the Eskesen product line. I do not smoke, nor do I advocate smoking. However, as a craftsperson I do expend my share of lighters in the course of a year. They come in mighty handy for burnishing loose threads. I was tickled to have and hold my first floating action lighter.
The float component is contained in a jacket that also houses the Scripto lighting mechanism. Yes, they are refillable. They are quite novel and very attractive. Whether you are a lighter collector or not, you might consider including one example in your float collection. Find them under the Related Products category at the top of the list. There are currently seven designs available.
Media sighting... Gary Kuenzle reports a float pen in the movie Another 48 Hours. 'In the notable scene, Nick Nolte plays a suspended cop in the process of cleaning out his desk. While placing items in a cardboard box, Nolte pauses to examine a clicker style tip n strip'. Gary adds... 'Naturally!'.
I suggested Gary rent the movie Seven, starring Brad Pitt. Brad carries a tip n strip throughout the entire flick. Be warned... this is a very intense and scary film. Gary and his date will attest to that.
Foreign media coverage... An article on the subject of float pen collecting appeared in the October 1998 issue of VerzamelKrant. This popular magazine is published and distributed in the Netherlands. The story was submitted by Miranda Wittebol, a long-time devotee of float pens. Miranda translated the text into English for us. I refined it a little. I'm sure it reads much better in Miranda's native language. I will ship a color photo copy of the spread accompanied by the English translation for $2. Or you can read the article right now. website.
Steady viewers of the FX Personal Collectibles Show ... won't be shocked to hear the show has been canceled. What a drag. I know many of you were watching. Now I am really glad that I made the trip to NYC last year to shoot the float pen segment. I am even more elated that the program was captured on video tape. I visited their website and attempted to email a complaint about the cancellation. It bounced back to me. Hmmmm. Maybe you will have better luck ... http://www.fxcable.com (NOTE: Nevermind... link closed long ago.)
I don't believe I've shared this story with you. After my appearance on the show, Peggy Mershon covered my experience in the local newspaper. The same evening the article appeared in print I received a collect phone call from a 'James' at a near-by correctional facility. It so happens that I know a young man named James and he is frequently in trouble. So, I accepted the call. Didn't take me long to figure out this was not MY James.
After a brief introduction, James indicated an interest in float pens and possibly even starting his own collection. I listened patiently. Then he just had to confess the real reason for his call. Seems he was very taken with my picture. After 10 years of incarceration... he would soon be released. Maybe we could get together?
I bowed out of the conversation as gracefully as I could. The call was a subtle reminder that when we open our doors to the world, we never know who might walk in.
News from the foreign front... This is the voyage my dreams are made of. Miranda Wittebol and boyfriend Dik visited the Eskesen factory early in September. They had a splendid trip. They were treated to a fabulous tour of the entire facility, including the art room and factory. Both were very impressed with the operation. Miranda, of course, was on cloud nine. She was able to meet many of the artists and staff members... including my liaison, Brian Hollier, pictured left.
Many people think that if they visit the factory they will certainly be permitted to purchase pens. Not so. Distributors around the world work directly with a client to create the perfect pen design to serve the client's individual needs. Eskesen's role is that of manufacturer. Their job is to make each pen order to the clients specification. Therefore the finished product belongs to the client. The client maintains total control over distribution of their pen. Eskesen is not in the business of pen distribution or retail sales. If you visit the factory, you might be lucky enough to receive a few samples. These are considered promotional hand-outs.
Miranda was fully aware of this policy before she left home. She was not at all disappointed when she didn't return loaded with pens. She had a great time and highly recommends the tour. The factory is located in Store Merlose, Denmark. If you hope to visit, make arrangements in advance.
A pen-wheel display is nestled between Miranda and Dik.
French collectors... pooled their resources to create their own collectors pen. The pen is in a vertical format. The floater is a rooster. Eskesen's cartoon mascot (right), stands at the top of the window. The background has several pens falling with their points down into a stylized target. My sample has a lavender barrel. The names of seven French collectors appear in the caption panel over three colored bands. Very attractive. Thank you Didier Desniou for sharing one of your pens with me. I am honored to have it in my collection.
News from fellow collectors ... My updated list includes three new pens by Nancy Nerenberg of Float Art Designs: The very clever Digital Media design (in the twist n click style), Newlyweds Susannah & Mark zoom over the Oakland Bay Bridge in their Miata, and Freddy the Pig from the children's book series has his own pen. Pictures are also provided within the weblist of pens. Great job Nancy!
Shirley Glaettli had the original design idea for the Collectors Unite float pen, which has since sold out. She is also responsible for the new frog Prince design that was offered in the August issue of Float About. If you don't have one yet... the pen is once again in stock.
Nancy Given has designed a pen for a Massachusetts running club. The artwork depicts a weekly race/run that takes place every Thursday evening in Somerville. Eight runners race through city traffic in the picture panel. The caption reads, 'Somerville Road Runners, Sommerville Massachusetts'. She has several pens on hand to trade. Nancy is included in the collector/traders list. Find her email address there.
You will find Lian Farrer's email address there as well. Lian helped her mother create a pen for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club. A Corgi chases three sheep back to the herd. Lian has a limited number of Corgi pens for trade.
Linda S tells me it is possible to order the Star Wars pen from the magazine Insider for $7.95 per pen. Her boys are major Star Wars fans, but in all honesty... they weren't excited about the artwork. Even so, if your collection won't be complete without one you can call 1/800-878-3326 or fax your order in at 303/574-9442.
Collectors news continued... Ginny Hamme has a serious insectphobia, but finds satisfaction in owning the insect pen. 'Nice to see them trapped', says Ginny. In the same order Ginny received the Crater Lake Lodge pen with the cutest chipmunks. She was the first to notice the background panel is upside down. If you were wonderering where the lake is, look to the sky.
Catarina Barcelona made the tragic error of leaving her pens in the car on a hot summer day. Oh Oh... every pen now has a bubble. Just a quick reminder... pens should never be exposed to extreme hot or cold temps.
Connie Burns mistakenly ordered two SS Independence pens thinking they represented the USS Independence battleship. An easy mistake to make. She decided to keep one anyway and permitted me to choose a replacement in exchange for the duplicate. I sent the new Nimitz pen. Connie was elated. Seems her son is currently stationed on the Nimitz. No, I didn't know, it was simply a delightful coincidence.
Revisions... Did you ever notice that in the Christopher Columbus Discovers America pen the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria are headed the wrong way? Well, yes and no. History tells us that after the great discovery, Christopher did return to Spain. So it isn't totally off the mark. The revised pen has redirected all three ships to American shores.
Diddl the Mouse has added four new designs to his series bringing the count up to 8. Be sure to ask your friendly world travelers to bring Diddl back to America for your collection. He is very popular in Germany and Europe.
August issue revisited... In the last issue I introduced an WA/OMAK pen. It featured riders on horseback. The significance of the pen was unknown to me. Karen Swanson, a resident of Washington state, replied to my inquiry. She is all too familiar with the event held in Omak. Sandy at Topline confirms Karen's report.
Karen tells me, 'Omak is located near the Washington-Canada border, about an hour's drive north of Lake Chelan. It is famous for it's annual Indian Powwow and the 'Suicide Race'. They race their horses down an extremely steep cliff, across the river and to the finish line. Every year at least one horse gets killed. This year one broke it's neck. Needless to say, the Humane Society tries to get the race stopped, but to no avail.' The pen is listed under Washington State. It's a pen I won't order again.
The Marriott's Edge pen that listed in August has sold out, but Linda S had some insight to the history of the park and the ride. Six Flags Great America started out as Marriott's Great America. Linda isn't sure when Six Flag's purchased the park. The Edge was a ride similar to the Demon Drop at Cedar Point. Riders are taken up, up and up... then dropped at high speed. There was a fatal accident on The Edge in 1983 (best estimate). A ride car fell off it's track. At least one person was killed.
Linda and family visited the park in 1984. The sign for The Edge was still there. It read 'ED' on one side and 'GE' at a right angle. Linda remembers it well. They were surprised that after all the negative press as a result of the accident, the park still had the sign posted. If you have the pen, you hold the history.
New acquisitions ... Have you ever found a float pen that simply has a name displayed inside? No, not a glitter pen... a float pen. At our local flea market I found a conceal/reveal pen with a clip stamped 'USA' + 'VICKI'. I've heard tall tales of this USA company, but this was the first time I uncovered one of their pens. It was in horrible condition, but for a mere $3 I couldn't resist.
It is a most curious item. The window is very dark. The images alternate from the name 'JOHN' to a colorful yellow and red starburst. My first thought was the pen might have a religious significance. It was the topic of discussion over lunch that afternoon. My family decided it was probably a personal name pen. They were likely offered in a variety of common names such as Bill, Bob, Mary, Jane, etc.
Next question???? So did they copy the idea from Eskesen, or did Eskesen ever produce such a line? I had to wonder. Within weeks I received an email from a very excited Linda Sienkiewicz. She found a cache of Eskesen name pens. What an incredible coincidence and yes... Oh Happy Days! I bought them all!
I spoke with a couple of distributors. Sandy at Topline thinks name pens were discontinued before she came onboard in the early 80's. Micale at Worldwide Services was unfamiliar with them. The clips are certainly shapely enough to be from older stock. Barrel colors include: red, royal blue, white and powder blue (a color discontinued LONG ago).
The window remains dark until the pen is tipped, then the name is revealed.
All of the names are in white script.
If you have any knowledge of this particular series, please let me know.
A short list of name pens remain in my inventory. I am offering them for $3 each on a first come-first served basis until the supply is depleted. I am limiting the number of pens to four per collector so everyone gets a crack at them. Contact me ASAP if you are even slightly interested, as they will quickly disappear.
Updated list of pens for sale/trade includes some exceptional new pens...
Advertise category... includes a high-tech Digital Media twist n click, Freddy the Pig, classy Metropolitan Glass, a super cute Santa Monica Radiator and Air Conditioning pen,The Thing Shop and a very funny Rainier Beer pen!
I tried and failed to obtain the Jellystone pen all summer. I am pleased to announce I finally succeeded. The pen features Yogi and Boo Boo running with a picnic basket. The Ranger and Cindy appear in the foreground. Yogi Bear's Jellystone Parks and Resorts are USA campgrounds visited by thousands each year. The Warrens, Wisconsin resort boasts 'Woodall's Highest Rating'. No wonder, they seem to have it all... 400 ft waterslide, golf & miniature golf, pools, sports, trolley rides, restaurant, canoe rentals, and a variety of indoor activities. They even celebrate Yogi's Birthday. Reading the brochure makes me long for summer. If you haven't stayed with the folks at Jellystone ... call 1/800-558-2954 to locate the nearest resort. Looks like a great place to float about.
It's raining cats and dogs... under the Animals column. Check it out!
New cartoon character pens... include a beautiful selection of brand new Biker Betty Boop pens and some Looney Tunes. The Archie series of seven pens has also returned to the list.
Elvis sighting... under the Celebrity column.
Events category features mischievous skeletons... at play in the new Day of the Dead pen, by Floaty Industries. The pen commemorates Mexico's All Soul's Day, which is an ancient celebration that takes place on November 2nd. Followers believe that death is just another state of life... rejoice.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and the Santa pen have returned just in time for the holidays. The Joy to the World pen is new to my list.
Martini time, Swing time, and Susannah & Mark (the newlyweds) are three more colorful additions.
USS Nimitz... is escorted by US fighter jets under the Ships category.
And they're off!... under Sports you'll find the new thoroughbred horse racing and the 'I (heart) Tennis ' pens.
More glitz and glitter... in the new Arizona glitter pen. A cactus has been added to each side of the window in the foreground. It adds new depth and dimension. Nice touch.
Get your kicks... on Route 66 . It's a must have! A driver waves from a red/white Corvette as he cruises past an old Sinclair gas station. It's a beauty! Find it at the top of the US/Location list.
1) The ship, Queen Mary, stands proud in the new CA/Long Beach pen.
2) A stag elk roams past chiseled white mountains in the new CO/Elk pen.
3) A stagecoach pulls into the Old West Town of Reno, Nevada.
4) A rainbow nestled in fluffy white clouds floats over Niagara Falls.
5) A raft full of people maneuver the Snake River in the WY/Grand Tetons pen.
Psychology of the float collector continued... Elisabet Carl forwarded an article entitled Museums Built on the Passion to Collect... Anything, by Michael Kimmelman. I knew this topic would be right up our alley. The article appeared in the September 4, 1998 issue of The New York Times in their Weekend Fine Arts Leisure section... on Page 29 to be exact.
We are first introduced to Dr Hicks, a man obsessed with light bulbs. He has 60,000 of them in his Baltimore museum. After visiting a list of collectors museums, the author couldn't help but ask 'Why do people collect?'.
Michael's article provides different views. He noticed, 'Many collections suggest a kind of obsession on the part of the collector that exceeds practicality.' I think we would all have to agree with that. 'A Manhattan psychoanalyst, Werner Muensterberger, wrote a book not long ago called Collecting: An Unruly Passion, in which he argued that collecting is, among other things, more or less a from of displaced childhood longing for parental comfort.' Muensterberger claims 'the collected objects becoming, like sucked thumbs, stand-ins for a mother's breast'. Geez! Dr. Hick's, the light bulb man, related a story about three psychologists from Johns Hopkins University that interviewed collectors all over the world. 'After spending $4 million, they concluded that collectors collect for the fascination of an object and for no other reason.' Hicks adds... 'Heck, I would have told them that for $1 million.' It's possible your local library has the article on file. It's an interesting read.
Scuffed windows ... seem to be prevalent in the new twist n click style pens. Bill and I have a theory that the wire clips are fashioned from a hardened metal. We surmised the metal against the soft windows might be responsible for the surface abrasions. The good news is that scratch eraser will help restore their clarity.
Forgive me... In the last issue I mentioned the 'USPO'. My mistake. The US Postal Service is of course... 'USPS'. Craig Wilson told me so.
What the future has in store... lavender barrels. I will be adding them to my color list of repair kits. They will sell for .75/kit. Each kit includes: refill, barrel with matching tip, metal band and pocket clip. I still have some of the original glossy repair kits in stock. OH! and just for the fun of it... I now have gold clips and bands so that you can dress up a favorite pen. Give any pen the Executive look... $.70/set.
Rising prices... I wish I had the time and energy to continually post pens on Ebay. Believe me when I say that it is a very time consuming task. I will do what I can to keep pens posted to discourage pen bandits. This is a very busy time of year for us, so I am working as hard and fast as I possibly can.
It became evident at our summer and fall craft shows that my production has suffered tremendously. It was no mystery where my time has been spent. With the release of Float About #18 all pens that are currently priced at $3 will jump to $3.25 each. It's a minimal increase, but it will ease the crunch at this end.
Help... I desperately need someone to translate letters that I receive from French collectors. I would be willing to trade pens for services rendered. The translations need to be done in a timely manner, two weeks or less. Can you help? Do you know someone that could?
Note the new email address... DiAndra@FloatAbout.com should be in effect by the time you read this. Give it a try! If it works, please update your address books. We are also keeping the turn2001 address. The FloatAbout address will help Bill and I keep our email separated. The new domain name http://www.FloatAbout.com is functioning and oh so much easier to remember. Bookmark it for your convenience and please visit often!
The December issue... of Float About will hopefully be out just before Christmas, but I won't make any promises. I know how swamped everyone is, I might just publish the last week in December instead.
I sincerely hope you are well and taking time to enjoy your float pen collections. I had a dream that I was searching for a very special pen that I had put away for safe keeping. When I opened my closet door, pens came cascading out onto the floor. When I realized none of them had been cataloged, I was devastated. Unfortunately, at this time, the dream is too close to reality.
We can't expect the world to stay afloat, if we don't take the time to vote. I'm on my way to the voting booth right now.
Until we meet again....