FLOAT ABOUT... © Copyright June 20th, 1999 Issue #20

Hello Float Pen Collectors ... Are you enjoying summer? From a distance we can still hear the perpetual shrill of an army of 17 year cicada. They have invaded the surrounding area. Thousands of their crusty shells have been deposited, then abandoned on tree trunks and telephone poles. When in flight, these giant bugs (bigger than my thumb) tend to fly low and bump into everything. They cling to clothing. So if one should land on you, it impossible to gently brush it off... a plucking maneuver is required. Their beady red eyes make them perfect candidates for any sci-fi horror flick. If these were flying centipedes I would bar the windows and lock the doors, but locusts come and locusts go. We will survive this invasion. My only real regret is that I didn't think to have a float pen made to commemorate their attack. Did you say... 'time to hit the road'?


Feel like jumping into your Miata for a long drive along the coast?

What's this... you don't have a Miata? Would you settle for a Miata float pen? It will almost get you where you want to go. This pen is the second offering from Tin Box Studio. The first pen sold out long ago. This design is available in limited quantities under the Advertise column for $5 each. Yes, I know... OUCH, but you get three Miatas and a clever caption panel packed into one pen!

LATEST NEWS FROM ESKESEN... regarding Disney's commitment to float pens. Many collectors have registered concern about the lack of USA Disney pens. Since the opening of their Wild Animal Park we haven't seen any new pen designs. Don't worry... be happy! That's about to change. Disney has designed an entirely new range of pens. Disney Cruise Lines, the Rock 'n' Roll Coaster, MGM Disney 2000 Celebrations, Winnie the Pooh, the Dixie Landing Resort and others will be represented in float pens.

Euro triple-packs are already on the shelf at Disney Stores in Paris, London and Rome. I recently traded James Reusser for a London set. It features three twist 'n' clicks encased in a clear plastic container. The container can be opened then resealed. The barrel colors include red, white and blue. Each pen has the same caption panel: 'The Disney Store' + pic of Mickey + 'LONDON'. The London designs feature: 1) Mickey strolling past the Houses of Parliament 2) Mickey moves between a telephone booth and red double decker bus with monuments in the background 3) Mickey floats vertically with Big Ben in the background.

Now for some exciting USA Disney news. Expect a pen for the upcoming Tarzan movie that depicts the King of the Apes swinging through the jungle. You see... no need to worry. Despite persistent rumors, Disney has not withdrawn from float pen production.

If you find yourself in Guam or Waikiki... the Duty Free shops will be carrying a new selection of float pens. If you know any travelers headed that way be sure to ask them to go shopping on your behalf.

It's a busy season... for float pen designers and distributors. Topline and Worldwide assure me they are swamped. I was able to track down several new releases. Nancy Nerenberg worked with the folks at Dinc! to create a great pen with a 50's look and feel. The pen is in keeping with the company's image. Dinc! offers fresh and fabulous fonts for people that use computers.... like you! I am extremely impressed with their font library. Their pen is just as enchanting. See for yourself...


A yellow delivery truck floats; young people in the corners hold Dinc! Six packs.

I am seriously considering the adoption of one of their fonts for Float About. There are so many cool styles it will be hard to choose one. I might just have to get a Six Pack. Visit the site.

An awesome threesome from the Minnesota Transportation Museum... have just arrived. According to their outstanding brochures 'The Minnesota Transportation Museum (MTM) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1962 to preserve the experience of Minnesota's public transportation past.' This is Minnesota's largest volunteer-run history organization. They operate five different exhibit sites in the Twin Cities area.

At Lake Harriet, in Minneapolis, you can ride the 1908 restored streetcar #1300 on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line. The line accommodates 40-50,000 passengers per year. Streetcar #1300 doesn't carry the burden alone. Several refurbished cars and busses bear the load. 'For one low fare you can travel back in time to the days when the trolley was king.'

Over the years they have also acquired many rail vehicles. The Northern Pacific #328, a 4-6-0 steam locomotive, built in 1905, is a gleaming example. It has been restored and operates for the public. From Withrow, MN-Amery, WI the MTM obtained the right to carry passengers on the Wisconsin Central RR tracks... a 39 mile stretch or rail. The Osceola Historical Society purchased and renovated their local depot. The MTM and OHS joined forces to create the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway. All aboard!

As if that weren't enough... in 1990 the MTM took to task the renewal of a Minnetonka steamboat called Minnehaha. Six years, 80 thousand volunteer hours and many thousands of donation dollars later... the Minnehaha has been restored to it's original splendor. Service began in 1996. The steamboat Minehaha provides smooth water passage between Excelsior and Wayzata.

The above are just the three subjects they chose to commemorate in float pens. There is so much more. The Minnehaha Depot, Jackson Street Roundhouse, the Excelsior Trolley and the list continues. What a great site to explore. For more information contact the Minnesota Transportation Museum, 193 E Pennsylvania Ave, St Paul, MN 55101. Or call 651/228-0263 for information regarding exhibit sites and hours. If you just can't get away to visit... all three float pens are offered under the Advertise column.

MEDIA SIGHTINGS... I was convinced that float pens were on strike in the entertainment industry. Not one USA media sighting was reported until Beverly Broadstone saved the day. She emailed to say that the June 13th Los Angeles Times Magazine had an article by Mary Melton and float pens were mentioned. The same day Beverly shipped a copy to me via snail mail... I received an issue from Gwen Garabedian. Good minds think alike. Thank you ladies for your diligence.

This particular issue of the LA Magazine, entitled Pop Culture! Get Ready for the 21st Century, would be of interest to any modern collector. Mary M's article Behold the Obi-Wan Undies, appears in the Retro Forecast section and addresses future collectibles. Mary predicts that 'Floating Pens: Souvenirs such as these pens, commemorating a place, event or corporate name, will hold their own on the low-end antique market.' I am confident she is right. While float pens do not get a lot of text, there is a small photo of five pens on the contents page that is also repeated on page 20.

If you are unable to get a copy at a newsstand, chances are your local library carries the Sunday LA Times. Plan to make copies for your files. It's an excellent look into the future of collectibles. You may or may not remember that Mary also wrote an article about float pens. It appeared in the LA Times Magazine a couple of years ago. Please send me a report when you see float pens in the movies, magazines, or on TV. Everyone would like to know about it.

On the foreign float scene... Danish Princess Alexandra and Prince Joachim are expecting a baby. Pia, an employee of Eskesen, designed a pen for the town where the couple resides. A stork floats over the Royal castle. I will see if I can get my hands on a quantity of them so that we may all share in the celebration.

Franklin D Roosevelt... floats in a pretty blue car with his Scottie dog, Fala, following close behind. His estate provides the backdrop. Find it under Politics or make a trip to the museum. The FDR Museum is located in Hyde Park, NY. Open 9-6 daily, except holidays. Call 1/800-337-8474 for visitors info.

COLLECTORS NEWS... begins with a trip to the UK. James Reusser accompanied his wife Margaret to her hometown of Birmingham, England (known fondly as 'Brum' to it's natives). James was unable to find a single pen in Brum. Margaret accomplished the task without expending any fossil fuel. Margaret was spending some time with her cousin, when her cousin opened a desk to share some genealogy material. Margaret released a shattering scream. There was a floaty pen in there! So the pen Margaret found for James in Brum was actually from Monaco. That was a round-about trip.

Like many of us, James is fortunate to have such an understanding and supportive spouse. They were traveling together on the tube (subway) when they spotted a gentlemen with the curious tip of a pen exposed. Margaret dared James to ask the man what he had, but James wouldn't go for it. They figured it was probably a tip 'n' strip. Would you have asked? We must applaud James for his determination. He was able to find 40 different pens for his collection. James was pleased to report that he found mostly Eskesen pens in England. He didn't see any Chinese pens and only a few Italians. Eskesen rules.

Chinese Pens in South Dakota!... The SD/Buffalo pen with Mount Rushmore in the background is nearly sold out. This exquisite design has been very popular. So, I placed an order for more. When I opened the package I was shocked. It took all of three seconds to determine they were 'Made in China'. The artwork was dreadful. I repacked the box shipped it right back where it came from. I made it clear that I was not interested in any pens manufactured outside of Denmark. I have to believe the vendor will see the difference in quality, but even so... if the pens sell, will he care? When you encounter Chinese or Italian pens in the marketplace I urge you to say something to the vendor. It's the only way they will know how collectors feel about these cheap imitations.

Craig Wilson thought ... that he might be on the trail of the company that made the Fishbone pen pictured in issue #19. There is an artist in Saint Louis named Robert Fishbone. It so happens that he signs his name with a fish skeleton. Robert's business is called Off the Wall Productions. You may be familiar with one of his items. He offers an inflatable version of Edvard Munch's The Scream. Because this item is made in Asia, Craig thought perhaps the pen could also be of Chinese origin. Craig contacted the folks at Fishbone, but it was a dead end. They were unfamiliar with the pen.

It remains fairly certain that the pen was made for distribution/sales on foreign soil. If it had been manufactured for sale in the USA... it would have to be marked with the country of origin to meet Federal Trade egulations. The only manufacturers mark on this pen is a fish skeleton stamped on the clip. Do you know anything about it?

Occasionally you will find a work of art depicted in a float pen. While on vacation Craig and wife Terri found just such a pen. A sculpture called Rolling Explosion, by Dennis Openheim, rests in Laumeier Sculpture Park, in Saint Louis. The sculpture could and would move, but it has been fastened to prevent injury. However, in the float pen the sculpture floats just fine.

In 1995 ... I was an inexperienced float pen collector, but very earnest about pursuing the hobby. At that point I shared my thoughts and traded pens with three other serious float pen collectors. Nancy Thomas, Nancy Nerenberg and Libby Spatz. Seemed we were the only collectors on the planet. Nancy Thomas has since set her collecting aside to concentrate on real life. The rest of us remain just as enthusiastic and dedicated to collecting as ever.

Once I started publishing the newsletter the list of collectors began to grow at a slow, but steady pace. Today there are 649 people on my mailing list. Now... only a small percentage of those individuals are die-hard collectors. In fact, I question if some of them are really interested at all, but still... it's incredible. The list grows longer with each passing day. In an earlier issue of Float About there was some speculation about how many of us would still be collecting in 10 years? Miranda Wittebol and I feel that we are both in for the long haul. How about you?

Collection for sale... by Shirley Glaettli. You may know Shirley as a float pen designer/collector. She hopes to make a journey abroad and the only means she has to finance her trip is to sell her float pen collection. She has about 1,000 pens and she is looking for one buyer to take them all. Price is based on the approximate figure of 1,000 pens @ $3 per pen.... $3,000 total, give or take a little. If you are sincerely interested in purchasing the entire collection Shirley is willing to provide a list of pens for your inspection. She is not interested in selling them as singles. Sorry, Shirley is without email at this point in time. Call her at 805/682-7334 or send snail mail to 2528 De La Vina Street #3, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.

Jerry Raymond ... from Datamation Systems has a limited number of float pens available for trade. Yes... it is the same pen that I carried some time ago on my list. Datamation Systems is a security company. The pen has a convict attempting to abscond with a computer. If you need one contact Jerry (4/19/2010 Sorry, email no longer active).

It isn't float pens... but just the same, check out the Family Circle magazine that is due for release in July, or August. Look for an article about knitting needles. It just so happens that my Bill makes wooden knitting needles. Our woodturning business, Turn of the Century, will be mentioned in the article. We are both a little apprehensive about the impact it may have.

Yes Brett Bigelow... your floaty fish keychain qualifies as the Weirdest Floaty in my collection. Brett and wife Rose are collectors of stuff. Every now and again, when I least expect it, I receive a surprise package from the Bigelows. This one was extra special. Brett tells me that little brown spot suspended in water within the cube is a tiny Japanese Koi fish. It was made in Hong Kong. Wonder who came up with that idea?

To date no word or video... from Amy Cook. After the time she invested in the TV shoot, I am hoping they aired the segment. I will keep you posted. Wonder if the pen Nancy Knechtel is expecting for her school has arrived? I will just have to ring her bell to find out. I got a note from Didier Desniou this week. In issue #19 I included a photo of his pen cabinet. His Mother was flabbergasted when he brought up my website and showed her the picture. Reminds me how much I enjoy modern technology.

Japanese pens for trade... at collector Haruo Funatsu's web site. I had the delightful opportunity to trade pens with Haruo a few weeks ago. He doesn't have an extensive trade list, but all of the pens are interesting and of quality. His list is posted for all to consider at his website. http://www.hi-ho.ne.jp/funatsu/ Tell him Diana sent you.

Bubbles... are always an issue. Lately I have had an on-going discussion with several veteran collectors. We have observed that if a pen EVER had a bubble... that bubble can easily pop up again... if the pen is exposed to the wrong conditions. While the temperatures in your house may not be extreme enough to cause a NEW bubble, it may be just cool or hot enough to cause an old bubble to resurface. This is especially true if the pens experience abrupt temperature changes.

If you receive a box or package of pens that feels cold or hot it is wise to acclimate it slowly to room temperature. I leave the package on the floor for an hour or two before I open it. You can often rid a pen of bubbles by bringing the temperature up, but take it slow and easy. If you are able to store your pens in a room that maintains temperatures that don't fluctuate more than 10-15 degrees... the bubble may never return. It is not true that all pens are destined to get bubbles. I have some very old pens that I purchased bubble-free and they have remained that way. The key is to store and display them in moderate temperatures.

If you must keep your float pens in a place where the temperature is uncontrolled, I suggest storing them in a styrofoam cooler. They are very inexpensive this time of year. The styrofoam will protect the pens from extreme temperature fluctuations.

Displays... Gwen Garabedian uses Riker Specimen Mounts to store and display her float pens. If you have ever visited an antique store/show, flea market, or swap meet... you have seen them in use. They are shallow black trays with a framed glass lid. The lid is actually pinned to the base tray for a secure hold. They come in a variety of sizes and are quite affordable.

They are usually sold with a soft white sheet of batting under the glass. You can also purchase cushioned pads strategically cut to hold jewelry, or plastic trays divided into compartments. The plastic trays are often flocked and available in several colors.

Gwen uses Stratoboard cut-to-fit the cases. This is a plastic corrugated panel available in clear or colored sheets. It is sold at better art supply stores. Gwen purchased her boards at Pearl Paints. She clips the pens to the Sboard to hold them in place.

She found this 150 year old red Chinese Dowry Chest made of Camphor wood. It measures 29" long x 18" wide x 16" high. It will hold between 32-35 of the 12" x 16" Riker trays. Now Gwen has room for 2,445 or more pens. I will do my best to help her fill up that little red chest.


COLLECTING ... If men are from Mars and women are from Venus it stands to reason that kids are from Pluto. Their needs and wants are very different than the adult of the species. Exactly when are kids supposed to leave their Plutonian tendencies behind to join the adult world? It depends on the individual. I know many adults that haven't made the transition... I might even be one of them.

While childhood is full of wonderful surprises there were a few disappointments along the way. As children we loved and adored our parents, but they were also the overwhelming obstacle that stood between us and our desires. The word 'No' was a dreaded but expected response to many of our youthful requests.

I never did get that Pinto pony I wanted. My parents presented me with a spring-action rocking horse instead. It was almost better than the real thing. It didn't eat or make a mess so it was permitted to live in my bedroom! In the middle of the night I often crawled out of bed to rock 'n' ride for miles. There was a lot of happiness wrapped up in that pony. It's no wonder we treasure those nostalgic reminders of our past. Can you even remember when life was that simple?

As we approached adolescence our wishes became more complicated. At age 13 I was certain I would grow up just in time to marry my favorite Beatle... John Lennon. Despite all of the heartache, most of us reached adulthood. So now what? Are you living vicariously through your children by buying them all the toys that you were denied? Or perhaps you are stocking your own toy box?

Float pen artist, Christian Andres, recently admitted that he has joined the growing ranks of Pezheads. La Nea Conner revealed a soft spot for Curious George. As you know, Beverly Broadstone and I collect Felix the Cat. Who was it that told me they collect rubber duckies? Whether it's board games, candy dispensers, lunch boxes, flickers or float pens... these are all artifacts of our past. What is it that still tickles your childish fancy?

NEW and DISCONTINUED ITEMS...

A toothbrush!... for the first time I am offering a floating action toothbrush on my list. Find it under US/Locations, NY/Niagara/Tour boat for just $3.50

Related Products... refills will soon be available for the twist n clicks and clicker styles in addition to the classics. I expect them to arrive any day now. If you are interested just ask. If you have tried but failed to refill a twist n click, the instructions are simple. Grab the bottom barrel, give it a twist AND pull at the same time.

Scripto Lighters... in five new designs feature these states: Maryland, N Carolina, Ohio/Cincinnati, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Did you realize that these are refillable too?

Advertise... mentioned earlier: 3 Miatas, Dinc! for people with computers, and the awesome threesome from the Minnesota Transportation Museum and the magnificent Steamboat Minehaha.

Animals... The new 'Cats' pen is from Holland. This popular pen has won the hearts of many a tourist. The caption panel reads 'I Love Cats' with a special Dutch touch. The word 'MIAUU' appears in the caption background... or as we say in America 'Meow'. The second new pen in the Animal category is a cat of a much larger variety... the Bengal Tiger.

Humor... new designs from Floaty include: Ants picnic, which was designed by a young girl. Vampira and Wolfman (shown) in classic Jack Keely style. And last, but not least... an old favorite that is new to my list... the Taxman.

Politics... one very special new entry, the Franklin D. Roosevelt pen... it's exceptionally nice.

Foreign/Locations... Egypt! So exciting. Float down the Nile in an Egyptian Galley.

Glitter pens ... include a skyline of 'New (red apple) York', a hot pink OH/Cincinnati pen, and an OH/Cleveland Rocks with musical notes.

Sports... a Paintball pen for those of us that would rather not be targeted.

US/Locations... Nebraska/Pigs and Virginia/Crabs

Discontinued pens... Topline has dropped their Christopher Columbus Discovers America design. Collectors are still asking for the NY/Buffalo/Snowman pen. Sorry, it too is discontinued.

The next Float About... should be released in August. I say 'should' because Bill and I have already begun our craft show season. With two shows behind us I can see this is going to be a tough year. We did take Best of Show in Crafts at the last event. That was cause for celebration. I promise to do my best to balance my craft work and float pen biz.

I am especially excited about issue #21. All of my life, the number 21 has been good to me. My Father and I were both born on the 21st. My Mother was born in 1921. I rarely have a bad day on the 21st of any month. Imagine how elated I am at the prospect of welcoming the 21st Century!? It makes me quiver with excitement.

Happy trails to you ... as we enter prime float pen season, I sincerely hope you are taking time to go a hunting. Tourists are on the move and shops are flooded with our favorite souvenirs. Go for it! Van Morrison latest release reminds us ... 'Precious Time is slipping away'. Hurry... and best of luck. Diana

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