FLOAT ABOUT... © Copyright Nov 3rd, 1999 Issue #22
Greetings Floaty Friends... it is the season of witches, ghosts and goblins.
Autumn is without a doubt our busiest season. It's amazing how much can be accomplished in the course of a single day when you don't do any housework. However, there comes a time when you can no longer ignore the consequences of such behavior. I gasp if someone suggests they will 'drop by' the house. I can't remember the last time we invited someone over. There are only a handful of people we feel comfortable allowing into our domain. They are craftspeople that share a similar existence. Right now I am mentally planning a major cleaning project that will keep me elbow deep in soapy water into the year 2000.
For now I continue to juggle craft shows and pen biz. Bill and I have logged so many miles since last we spoke. It's unfortunate that I rarely find float pens in our travels. Our annual craft show schedule tends to repeat itself. So much so that I feel we are caught up in a 400 mile loop. I'm not saying that I didn't find exciting new pens for this issue. Not at all! There are 60+ new designs for your consideration. So it's time to cut the chit chat and get this boat afloat...
The Great Coca-Cola Giveaway promotion, introduced in issue 21, was a super success. All of the Coke pens have been distributed to devoted collectors around the world. It was a pleasure to share the bounty. In the same spirit, I will send a new Millennium glitter pen to every collector that orders five or more pens from the current list. Flip this pen over and it reads '5000'. Now that is looking ahead to the future.
MEDIA SIGHTINGS ... were scant, but very worthy of note. Jeff Hunt faxed copy of the Raves column that appeared in a recent issue of Rolling Stone . Seems we have a celebrity collector among us. Popular singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge describes her collection of Airport Pens as follows: 'You turn them upside down and the little something goes back and forth, and it says the town on it. I have hundreds from all over the world. Sometimes you can find really old ones from the Fifties at flea markets and antique stores.' I have never heard them referred to as 'airport pens' before, but I guess if that is where you traditionally find your pens... it is an apt reference. I wonder how many pens Melissa has in her collection? Thanks for sharing the column Jeff.
Miranda Wittebol... update. On August 17th Miranda was interviewed by Vriendin , a popular women's magazine distributed in the Netherlands. They were very impressed with Miranda's collection and her enthusiasm. At the end of the newsletter you will find a basic translation of the article with pictures. Don't overlook the photo of Miranda's Eskesen floating-action lighter collection. It appears at the end of her article. It's possible that Miranda's float pen numbers will cross the 5,000 mark by the year 2,000. I think it's time the folks at Guiness World Book recognize Miranda and her outstanding collection.
In October... we visited a Border's bookstore. I found a title on the shelf previously missed. The paperback, published by Schiffer , is entitled The Incredible Ball Point Pen: A Comprehensive History & Price Guide . It was released in January of 1998. The authors, Henry Gostony and Stuart L. Schneider, have compiled an exhaustive review of early brands, development, manufacturers and models. The book includes over 400 pen photos, original ads, patents, detailed documentation and a price guide.
The paperback sells for $29.95. If you are a ballpoint pen collector this publication is probably a must for your reference library. I was amused to find float pens featured on page 91. However, there was little information provided. The text included the words 'Made in Denmark', but there was no mention of Eskesen .
If your pen collection is limited exclusively to float pens, I question your need to own this book. However, it is worth a look. The history is fascinating. It's possible you will find it at your local library. If not, try your better bookstores. The book is also available at www.amazon.com and it received excellent reviews from their readers.
Treasures in Your Home ... is the new collectibles program airing on PAX TV. Are you watching? I receive a lot of comments about the show so I know many of you tune-in on a regular basis. Bill and I try to schedule our coffee break at 7pm so we can catch at least part of the program. I understand the show is a big hit for the network. No surprise to me. Unlike The Antiques Road Show this show is interactive. A wide range of items are appraised each evening and many items make their way to the auction block. Sign up on TIYH's website to participate in the action www.treasuresinyourhome.com
Halloween and the Day of the Dead ... inspired my three pen choices for this issue. All of these can be found under New Arrivals .
Experience a Death Valley vacation... without the bones! We are all tempted by offers of dream vacations at luxury lodges in exotic locations. I wouldn't expect to find such a retreat in Death Valley, California, but I was so wrong.
I contacted the staff at Death Valley National Park in search of float pens. Shortly afterwards I received a visitors packet. While the area boasts the most extreme climate in the Western Hemisphere, that is during the summer. 'Winter is the season for exploration.' There are many ways to investigate the 3.3 million acres of mountains, sand dunes, canyons, geology, flora, and wildlife.
Lodging ranges from primitive to decadent. Choose from campgrounds, cabins, or the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort ... oh my! There are an equal number of ways to enjoy your stay. Play golf, hike, go horse back riding... the possibilities are endless. Furnace Creek is a natural desert oasis that has served many a weary traveler for over 100 years. Thirsty for a change of scenery? The float pen features a Pack mule and miner making their way across the desert.
The Borax Museum , the oldest structure in Death Valley, was built around 1883. In 1954 the building was moved to its' present site to serve as a museum. Between 1883 and 1888, the twenty mule teams hauled more than 15 million pounds of borax out of the Valley. The museum keeps the spirit and history of the Valley alive.
Contact Death Valley National Park at 760/786-2331 or visit their website www.nps.gov/deva For Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort reservation information visit www.furnacecreekresort.com or call 760/786-2345.
2,209 lives were lost... in the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889. Heavy rains compromised a faulty dam with tragic results. Lake waters, traveling at 40 miles per hour, thundered into Johnstown. The thirty-six-foot-high wave reduced the area to rubble in 10 minutes. Floating debris depicts the horror of this tragedy within their float pen.
Five days after the event, Clara Barton, accompanied by a staff of 50 doctors and nurses, arrived at the scene. This would be the first task faced by the newly formed American Red Cross. Clara organized the relief effort and remained until October to battle disease that flourished in the wake of the flood.
In 1964 the Johnstown Flood National Memorial was established to commemorate the flood and its' victims. The museum presents the compelling story of the destruction of Johnstown and its' heroic rebuilding. Exhibitions include an Academy Award-winning documentary film, a relief model of the path of the flood, video presentations, historic objects, photographs and more.
For information about the Johnstown Flood Memorial call 814/495-4643. The Johnstown Flood Museum is located at 304 Washington Street, in the downtown area. Call 814/539-1889 for hours and information. While you are in the neighborhood, stop at the Johnstown Inclined Plane. It's the steepest vehicular railroad in the world climbing a 71% grade. View the city and valley below from the observation deck. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and private banquets. Call 814/536-1816 for details.
The National Museum of Funeral History... was approached by a collector that felt strongly the Museum should have their very own float pen. The identity of the collector remains uncertain, but Nancy Nerenberg, of Float Art, helped make the idea a reality.
The NMFH serves to preserve artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. Equally important is its' role in public education and enlightenment. They emphasize the proud heritage of our country's funeral service.
This nationally and internationally acclaimed museum is home to ever-changing rare collections and exhibitions. The Famous Gallery includes artifacts and information from many political and celebrity figures. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Judy Garland and more are remembered. Memorabilia from the funeral of revered President Abraham Lincoln includes an exact replica of his stately coffin.
Automobile enthusiasts will enjoy the comprehensive collection of funeral service vehicles. It begins with a funeral sleigh and vintage horse-drawn hearses and includes a 1916 Packard funeral bus .
The Museum offers its' visitors 'an interesting and objective view into one of our most important, and often most mysterious rituals.' The Museum is located in Houston, Texas. Open weekdays 10am-4pm, weekends noon - 4pm. Adult admission is $5, group rates are available. Call 281/876-3063 or visit their website www.nmfh.org for more information.
TOUR AUSTRALIA... explore the Great Barrier Reef, chase kangaroos in the Outback, and be sure to take a cruise past Sydney's distinguished Opera House. When you catch your breath, venture out in search of the elusive Kiwi bird , or perhaps a visit to a sheep farm is more your speed. I know you will enjoy seeing the New Zealand All Blacks kick butt in an afternoon rugby game. Finish the evening off with a trip to Sydney's Star City casino.
Our pens transport us to exotic places without ever leaving the comfort of our homes. Don't misunderstand me. Owning a float pen from a specific site will never compare to the experience of a visit. However, we can't be on the road all the time. Float pens fill the void. I may never be fortunate enough to visit Australia, but I have the float pens! If I should make it to the Outback, my pens will serve as reminders of my journey. It's a win-win situation.
TOUR OF BRITAIN... continues with five new additions. Pens from Blackpool, The Broads, Cambridge, Chester and Wales are now available. I am pleased to be in a position to offer foreign pens at a nice price. All of these pens appear under New Arrivals .
COLLECTORS NEWS... Have you heard the legend of the treasure basket? This is a story I am thrilled to relay. It was Sunday, September 26th. La Nea Conner was prepared to march right past a booth full of 'ugly junk' at the local swap meet. Luckily, her husband Rusty possesses the curiosity of a cat. In the same booth that La Nea was quick to dismiss, Rusty was quick to discover a basket bursting with float pens. The pens had belonged to the dealer's girlfriend. He was asking $20 for the entire basket. Without hesitation, the deal was sealed.
Rusty and La Nea retreated to their car to examine the booty. Of the 106 pens, only three of them were not manufactured by Eskesen. Many of the pens were retired designs from the Seattle area. The grouping included foreign pens from Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, France and Holland. Moral of this tale... leave no stone unturned. Congratulations to the Conners on the find of a lifetime.
On August 22, 1999... Ginny Hamme called to announce that she 'hit 50'. It's unusual to hear this news amplified by excitement. Then Ginny explained. She hasn't yet reached 50 years of age, but she now has a float pen from each of the 50 states in the Union. This is definitely cause for celebration. Good for you Ginny... on both counts.
While I've got you here, I would like to mention that Miranda Wittebol, Ginny Hamme, La Nea Conner, Nancy Lynam-Davis, Linda Sienkiewicz, Sue Buetow, and Debbie Dzurilla are just a few of my most reliable scouts. People often ask 'How do you find so many float pens?' I have an army of helpers. I would be lost without my guides. Thank you all.
Just days after issue #21 was released... Rosemary O'Malley emailed to say that her daughter had just returned from a trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The news was very disheartening. The only float pens her daughter found were 'Made in China'. Another major tourist attraction bites the dust.
Kathryn Thomas reports... 'Our Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has an Egyptian exhibition now and, concurrently, the IMAX theater in the Science Museum has been showing The Mysteries of Egypt .' More evidence that the Egypt float pen may be linked to the IMAX movie, or perhaps the exhibition. Kathryn found another Egyptian float pen in the gift shop. A ship floats up and down the Nile. A Sphinx flanked by pyramids appears in the background. A ripple of blue water extends the length of the window, in the foreground, and is centered between palm trees. The pen is on my list for TRADE only. Catch the Egyptian exhibit thru Nov 28.
We were delighted to meet... collector Ann Rawlins of Damascus, MD. Ann and her Mother traveled out of their way to pay us a visit at the National Art Fair in Gaithersburg. Ann delivered joyful news of her engagement. We had to laugh because she had just ordered three wedding pens and I brought another with me to add to her collection. The same day she placed the pen order, her boyfriend proposed. Hmmm... once again we have to ponder the power of the pen .
Luke Cole and wife Nancy... had a custom wedding pen made to announce their union. Luke and Nancy collect pop Americana and they love the Trix (cereal) rabbit. They included the frisky bunny in their pen design as a sly reference to the rabbit, often portrayed as 'trickster' in African and African American folk tales. The pen was a big hit with all of their friends. For $5 (shipping included) you too can obtain one of their unique wedding pens. Make arrangements with firstname.lastname@example.org
Marla Hoffman... asked her 10 year old cousin to pick up pens for her on his journey to Alaska. When he returned he was excited to report he had found 6 pens. Seems he had so much fun scouting for pens he decided to keep them all and start his own collection. You see, it's not unusual for scouts to become collectors.
In issue #21 Kristen Marino asked... 'if two pens share identical caption panels and pictures, but one is a twist n click and the other is a classic style... do they qualify as two different pens within my collection?' Everyone that responded to the issue agrees with my assessment. The style of pen, or color of the barrel, falls under packaging . The uniqueness of the pen is established by the artwork. For the pens to count as individual additions to a collection, they must include artwork or caption panels that differ from pen to pen. The differences could be minor. Thanks for the feedback.
NEWS FLASH... Questions and rumors about Floaty Nation ... are criss-crossing the continent. It was James Reusser, from Washington state, that first contacted me regarding a new collection of pens. James found 23 Floaty Nation pens while vacationing in Boston. The same week I received an email of similar content from Nancy Given. She resides in the Boston area.
I was able to locate the source. Floaty Nation is a small American company. Float pens are a side-line for a much larger venture. The line includes 25 float pen designs. Pen themes reflect different sports, hobbies, leisure activities and even a Three Stooges celebrity pen. FN pens are beginning to surface at pen shows, office supply stores and in theme catalogs.
'Floaty Nation' 'Go with the Flow' appears in the caption panel of each and every pen. Find the entire Floaty Nation collection for sale under the New Arrivals category. Buy the entire collections at special price.
The women at Topline ... are busy working on new designs for the year 2,000 and revamping some old favorites. I am honored to carry their line of pens and look forward to bringing Topline products to you in the new Millennium. Topline introduces a nicely detailed San Francisco pen.
Remember when Marilyn Monroe... sang Happy Birthday to President John F Kennedy in 1962? It was a memorable event that stirred a lot of controversy. Perhaps that is why the dress she wore that evening just sold at auction for over 1.25 million dollars.
The Andy Warhol Museum, in Pittsburgh, commissioned a custom Marilyn float pen. The twist n click pen sells for $6.50. Which item best fits your budget? The dress... or the pen? I've been told the pens are temporarily sold out at the museum's gift shop. However, they are available via their online catalog. Order direct from their website www.warholstore.com Click on the Accessories category. Choose from aqua or pink barrels. Coincidentally, you will find a JFK pen on my new list. (Shown left)
When Bill and I visited the Andy Warhol Museum last winter I was very disappointed that they didn't sell float pens. I spoke with the gift shop manager and staff. They were enthusiastic about the idea of having a pen made for their Museum. I provided them with the names of a couple of American distributors. Apparently they listened. Nationwide there are countless shops, museums, and tourist sites that should have their own float pen. Do not hesitate to suggest the idea. You never know... you might be the one that sparks the creation of a brand new pen.
The Minnesota Transportation Museum... adds a new pen to their list. The latest Adv/St. Croix Valley Railway pen features a MNTX 559, a GP-7 engine. Charles Berthold provides some history. 'The engine was originally built in 1951 for the Rock Island Railroad. After the company's bankruptcy, it became property of the Chicago & Northwestern, who in turn sold it to a shortline spinoff, the Fox River Valley Railroad. They were purchased by the Wisconsin Central, who used the engine for several years. The engine is painted in SOO Line passenger train colors. 558 was as high as the SOO roster went, so our engine is numbered 559.' The MTM acquired the engine last year.
Note... there are only subtle differences between this pen and the earlier Adv/Osceola & St Croix/#105 locomotive pulling a Great Northern Empire Builder . The newer caption panel has added 'OSCEOLA, WI' and the phone number. The only difference in the picture panel is the substitution of the SOO Line 559 for the #105 engine.
The Adv/Metropolitan Glass Pen... depicts a glass blower working at the furnace. The glass artist is Diane Hansen, a serious float pen collector. Diane resides and works out of her studio in Puyallup, Washington.
Colorful fishes abound... in the Shedd Aquarium pen. New Zealand artist, Royce McClure, designed the artwork. It is appropriately entitled Clowning Around . It's plastered with saltwater Clown Fish. The artwork has also been applied to clothing and souvenir items.
Sue Buetow... of Minnesota is an I Love Lucy fan and a float pen collector. She would like to see a Lucy float pen. Wonderful idea! Have you ever seen or heard of such an pen?
DISPLAY IDEAS... continue to flow in from your fellow collectors. Jonathan Breux is truly supportive of his wife's passion for collecting float pens. They purchased a large floor model display case. Jonathan cut plexi-glass panels to replace the glass shelves that came with the unit. He drilled hundreds of holes in the plexi-glass panels to accommodate the maximum number of pens per shelf. As the collection grows, Jonathan simply adds another shelf. Clever, attractive, practical... makes for a winning combination.
Many float pen collectors display their collections in coffee mugs and character glasses. Sandra Watkins exhibits her Hawaii pens in a ceramic pineapple-shaped mug, her German pens in a beer stein that belonged to her father, and her Seattle collection in a latte mug decorated with coffee cups. Nine mugs are arranged in a row down the center of her purple dining room table. It's a great centerpiece when I have dinner guests-it's something fun for them to play with and an instant conversation starter.'
Sandra has about 200 pens that still need mugs. She is having a great deal of fun shopping at gourmet coffee shops, yard sales, thrift stores and of course scouring eBay. She suggests, 'The best place to start is in your own kitchen cupboard.'
It's possible that Sandra's loft will be filmed by Awesome Interiors , a program on the Home & Garden TV channel. Part of the feature would include her pen collection and unique storage idea. Sandra has promised to keep us posted.
PEN LIST #22 Thank you for sharing your comments regarding the New Arrivals category. Many collectors offered positive feedback. The new category was a big hit and consequently... it's a keeper!
Norm Kautt requested scans of San Francisco pens. Thanks for being so patient Norm. Ideally all of the pens offered on my list would have photos. We are working on it. Bill is my Scanman . He makes sure all of the new pens get scanned with the release of each newsletter. Please let me know if there are specific pens that you would like to see pictured. We will do our best to fulfill your wishes in time for the next issue.
Political comebacks... There are a couple of pens that have returned to the list after a long absence: Politics/Nixon/Air Force One and Politics/Nixon/Limousine. There are two outstanding new and exciting entries of the Political variety. The first, the John F Kennedy pen. The second pen commemorates Elvis's visit to the Oval Office during President Nixon's term.
Sold Out!... Several of the Tour Britain pens sold out immediately, but a handful have been restocked. Refer to the list for availability status. It could be spring before the following pens return: Nessie, Scottish Bagpipers, and the Britain/Millennium 2000.
NEW PENS... there are so many! You will find every one of them listed under the New Arrivals column. They are arranged by subcategories: Advertise, Event, Humor, Politics, Foreign, US Locations.
Advertise... I expect the Golden Retriever pen to be very popular. The Pacific Park Santa Monica Pier is beautiful and the only pen in my collection that prominently features a seahorse. Don't overlook the Port of NY & NJ or the US National Naval Ice Center pens. You won't find either of them on the street. 24 Hour Fitness is once again back in stock.
Exciting Events... include three different Millennium designs and a sweet Soap Box Derby pen.
The Humor category is loaded... with 11 new designs from Floaty Industries , and there are more on the way. They didn't reach me in time for publication, but be sure to ask about them when you place your order. Of course the 25 new pens from Floaty Nation collection will be grouped together for easy identification. Lady Bugs... one of my Floaty faves.
Foreign pens ... include the additional Tour of Britain pens, mentioned earlier. Plus, the new group of 7 Australian pens.
Only 3 new USA... location pens. They are exceptional designs. Both of the San Francisco pens are t&c's. The Death Valley pen is a classic style, but be aware... every one of the DV pens arrived with a small bubble.
Last Minute Arrivals... I'm expecting several humorous pens from Floaty Industries! Bill will scan them ASAP when they arrive. Last Minute Additions can be found at the end of the New Arrivals category. (UPDATE: pens arrived 11/08. Scans have been added.)
I'll Be Seeing You in the 21st Century...
I don't see any point in trying to get issue #23 up and running between Dec 20 and Jan 1st. We will all be too distracted by the holidays. I will target January 2nd, 2000 as the next release date and hope my aim is true.
And now, I must tell you that I will not be available Fri/Nov 19th thru Mon/Nov 22nd. Weather permitting we will be at an art fair in Grand Rapids, MI. I don't pay my housekeepers enough to ask them to handle secretarial duties, but they will organize my mail, by date, as it arrives. All orders are handled on a first-come first-served basis so go ahead and place your order.
I wish you good health, float pen wealth and a painless Y2K transition. Float gently on your journey into the 21st Century. Diana
just want a pen
Those who think a pen collection is boring, shall be disappointed.
That is after a visit with 29 year old Miranda Wittebol of Amersfoort.
Her sincere enthusiasm stems from the sheer fun derived from her so called floaty pens .
Water/oil or float pens, that's what these pens are usually called. Plastic pens with for example, an airplane or ship that moves up and down when you tilt the pen upside down. And then you only have a boring example. Because Miranda - 'I have the biggest collection from the Netherlands and maybe even from Europe' - has 3,700 almost mint pen samples with the coolest moving objects. How about a Betty Boop who's bathing suit comes off when you turn her upside down? Or one of Miranda's favorites: a salamander that remains stationary, but the sand moves through the pen. (White Sands, New Mexico)
SPARK Miranda was 12 years old when she wanted to bring home a souvenir from her visit to the German Phantasialand. That souvenir was a 'moving' pen. That was the start of her collection. As a teenager she also had an interest in collecting ABBA stuff, but that has passed. The pens stayed and the passion for movie soundtracks was added. That last collecting mania even brought her to the first meeting with her boyfriend Dik. 'I was visiting a collectors fair and I saw someone snooping between the soundtrack records, worried about the competition I asked him what kind of music he was looking for, and then we started talking. When I met with him again at a record fair, the spark hit me'. And now they collect soundtracks together.
Still, almost the entire house stands in token of her pens. The mantel shows a mini-exposition of about 30 special samples. 'Most people just want a pen that writes' says Miranda, 'but for me those moving pictures are fascinating'.
The pen from Amersfoort (where Miranda was born) is also an important piece. Miranda helped to create the pen. At that time, Amersfoort did not yet have a pen of their own. Because a custom order from the Eskesen factory equired a minimum of 1,000 pens, Miranda could not handle the project alone. She persuaded the VVV, the Flehite Museum, and another shop to share the order. The result: the typical boat from the Amersfoortse Waterlijn floats before the Koppelpoort.
MONICA LEWINSKY Nowadays you can buy the silliest pens. How about a pen where Monica Lewinsky crawls on her knees to Clinton for a cost of $20? Much too expensive thinks Miranda. 'The pens sell for $3.75 each. Some floaty pens are bad quality, the picture fades fast, the pens don't write well and often leak. These are Chinese pens... I don't buy those'. Her own collection grows rapidly. Friends who go on vacation bring pens home with them. Since Miranda discovered the Internet, she has not only doubled her collection, but she has also made a lot of new friends. She shows an album filled with pictures from fellow collectors and their collections.
Among those you find the most fanatic collector in the USA, Diana Andra, who also became a good friend to Miranda. Soon Miranda leaves for a trip to America. Is it now time to visit all those other collectors from far away? She laughs, 'I would like to, but this is going to be a real vacation'.
Would you like to know more about floaty pens? Check the internet: www.FloatAbout.com
Miranda's floating action lighter collection
also made by Eskesen.
I'm ready to go pen shopping! Take me to the list of Pens for Sale
On to Issue #23 please * Return to Home Page