FLOAT ABOUT... © February 1996 Issue #2
... for those that choose to float through life.

I promised myself that the displays would be finished before another Float About was mailed. Target date was January 21, but I failed miserably. I am still touching up paint on the table mounts, but the displays are finally completed. It was an expensive and overwhelming project, much bigger than I ever anticipated. While I am extremely pleased with the final results, I will not be in a hurry to make more.

Bill, my mate, is flying to Hong Kong in March. We both suspect if any pens are to be found there, they will be of the Made in China variety. As a craftsperson, I am opposed to the idea of copying the work of others. So, personally I boycott Chinese and Italian made pens. Denmark has produced float pens for over 50 years. Also, I have found the copycat pens have inferior artwork and poor quality mechanisms. Buy Danish pens!

I am going to accompany Bill on his journey as far as Seattle. I will stay there for five days. Seattle is a great city that has many float pens in their souvenir shops. Any special requests? I will pick up duplicates for sale/trade. Look for my new list this spring.

Media Blitz?!
In December we saw the movie “Seven”. Yikes! What an intense flick. Throughout the entire movie, Brad Pitt carried a tip n strip pen. AKA stripper pens have been around for ages. A pen often hidden in Dad's desk drawer and not to be touched. Tip the pen upside down and the image of a lady undresses. Return the pen to upright position and she redresses. These pens are made by the same company that produces our float pens.

In the sitcom Naked Truth one of the characters resides in his van with his life-long and cherished collection of over 3,000 stripper pens. In yet another sitcom, Single Guy, Jonathan is in need of a quickie present for a girl, but his shopping excursion is limited to a NY Ferry... where he purchases a float pen for her.

A couple told me about a Columbus, Ohio television ad. A used car dealership commercial has somehow incorporated the use of a float pen into their 30 seconds. The pen is from the sitcom Frasier and has Eddie and Frasier together. I inquired many places about this pen. I am almost convinced it does not exist. It's possible they made a mock up just for the commercial. Have you seen it? Have you noticed float pens in the media? Where and when?

Related Products... Did you know the same company that produces float pens also makes a variety of key chains? Basically the floating section of the pen has been removed and mounted on a ring and chain. The parts are interchangeable with the pens. Occasionally I find one in a souvenir shop, but not often. There are also a few toothbrushes out there and a letter opener or two. Do you know anyone that collects these items?

Float pens are often referred to as tilt or action pens. Technically they are called Floating action pens. They appear to be filled with water, but in reality it is oil. Most of the pens in my collection are photoramic float pens. They have designs on film which move from end to end.

Disney's Pocahontas pen set was a disappointment to some, a joy to others. The set did not have any traditional photoramic pens. Instead each pen has an item from nature suspended in oil (seeds, stones...). What did you think?

History... A primitive ball point pen was first patented in 1888. It wasn't until after World War II, in the early 50's, that ball point pens gained wide spread popularity. Prior to that, mechanical pencils were used for advertising. Metal float pencils had a small object that moved in a clear, and often short barrel space. There were several manufacturers. You have probably seen them at a flea market or antique show. The ones I find usually have a single colored plastic ship, truck, or car inside. I have about 6 of these old timers in my collection. In my marketplace they sell for $3-$48. The condition of the pencil, the popularity of the advertiser, and the whim of the dealer set the price. Keep your eyes open.

Pen News... For those of you looking for promo/advertising float pens... it's tough. MANY companies produce promotional pens. However, these pens are usually destined to stay in house. They are often created to be used exclusively as gifts for company execs/staff. Darn it! A few make it to salespeople or major accounts. If you have such pens in your collection... I envy you!

Are you interested in Olympic pens? I have discovered that there are 30 or more styles available. Yes, even an historical series that represents past events in Athens, Paris, Los Angeles, London, Helsinki, and Tokyo. Many of the individual events are covered as well. Shop around. I have seen these pens for as little as $3.99 as high as $6. If you want Olympic pens, let me know. If there is enough interest I can offer them for resale at $3 each.

If you enjoy location pens, the New York pens I have are beautiful. The designs are detailed and crisp, very well executed. The San Francisco pens are a must too.

Yes, a coffee table style book is going to be published about float pens. When? I still do not know, but I am still trying to get more information.

Problem: You purchase a float pen at a souvenir shop. When you remove the price tag you are left with a sticky mess.

Solution: Goo Gone made by Magic American Corporation will always work. However, I find the odor offensive. Before resorting to Goo Gone I apply Pledge furniture polish (spray or liquid). Allow it to set for about 30 seconds and rub it off with a paper towel. I have found it removes most of the stick without damage to the pen. I suspect any oil based polish will do the same. Do NOT use fingernail polish remover! It is too caustic. Goo Gone can usually be found at builder's supply stores, a good hardware store, or at antique stores that carry restoration supplies.

Don't Forget... I will be in Seattle from March 19-24. Try to schedule your pen orders before my departure.

Keep floating,

Take me to Issue #3 of Float About please
Time to go shopping... Pens for Sale
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