FLOAT ABOUT... © Copyright Jan 9th, 2000 Issue #23
Welcome to the 21st Century One and All... I hope this newsletter finds you well and afloat. I received many cards and letters over the holidays. Please forgive me if I did not respond to each and every one. We were distracted by unexpected interruptions at our house. Even so, I truly enjoyed hearing from you. I want to share this special holiday card from Eskesen.
The float item attached to the card is a keyring whistle. Another new and unique item from Eskesen. I doubt the whistle will diminish your devotion for float pens, but it is toot sweet.
Glitter pours over Eskie and his team of reindeer as they move from 1999 into the year 2000.
With the arrival of the holidays we enter the dead zone. 'Tis the season when souvenir vendors, museums and sites of special interest allow their float pen stock to dwindle. This does not mean that the factory is idle. To the contrary... new designs for the spring of 2000 are being generated as we speak. I know our local Ohio State eformatory is considering a second design. I sincerely hope they decide to go through with it. Even if they do not... I promise 2000 is going to be a float-friendly year.
Y2K strikes Float About... Thanksgiving eve. In an effort to prepare my four-year-old computer for the transition I downloaded software from my computer manufacturers' website. Immediately after the download I attempted to retrieve my email, but my modem refused to respond. After hours of experimental trial and error (mostly error) Bill and I were convinced I had a serious problem.
Following chats with tech support dudes and other professionals in the field it was decided my motherboard had been permanently damaged. My computer manufacturer would neither replace the board at their expense or sell me a replacement board. We began researching my options. In the meantime Bill generously offered the use of his computer so that I could continue processing orders.
For better or worse, I purchased a Hewlett Packard Pavilion on Nov 29th. So far, no serious problems. Bill and I both bought our Quantex computer systems in October of 1995. Since my attempt to protect my unit failed so miserably, Bill decided to ignore Y2K. Sure enough... January 1st rolled around and his system is working just fine. There must be a lesson in there somewhere.
Eskesen, Canada and Disney ... a match made in float heaven. Why? Eskesen has forged a deal with a Canadian company to sell Eskesen Disney pens throughout the USA. Brian has been dreaming about such a union for 20 years. The dream will soon be reality. At last, we will be able to find Disney pens outside of the theme parks and Disney stores.
I know this is great news for Disney collectors everywhere, but before you go knocking on doors.... relax. You will not find pens in widespread distribution for awhile. California and Florida are the first states targeted for marketing.
COLLECTORS NEWS... 2000 ... a giant step. It is also a memorable figure for Miranda Wittebol. Last autumn Miranda was approached by a Danish float pen collector. After 10 years of gathering pens his attention turned to Parker products. He proposed a trade of 2000 float pens for 200 Parkers. Over the next few months they exchanged pens in batches of 200 or more at a time.
With the trade now complete, Miranda's favorites include: Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, the Tokyo Disneyland and Disney pens. She is also partial to pens from exotic places she has never heard of... like Saipan/Guam. (The Atlas revealed Saipan and Guam are included in the Marianas Islands... South of Tokyo, East of the Philippines in the Philippine Sea).
Miranda estimates that less than 25% of the pens were duplicates. This acquisition boosted her collection up to 6,000+. I would think this makes Miranda a contender for a position as an owner of the Top 5 largest float pen collections in the world. In my dreams there is a 2000 float pen trade in the future of each and every collector. Can you even imagine?
In 1990 Ann Rawlins... uncovered an extraordinary Eskesen pencil at a flea market in Fort Collins, Colorado. Ann had the pencil with her when we met in Gaithersburg, MD. It is incredible. She has since mailed photos and a Xerox so you could see it too. This scan of her Xerox copy does not begin to exhibit it's glamour.
The pencil is 5 inches long. A 3-D Coke bottle floats up/down in the 2 inch clear window. The bottle is translucent and when held up to the light you can see the raised 'Coca-Cola' script. The charm has a tiny red cap, just like the vintage Coca-Cola bottles so many of us can still remember.
The barrel is metal with a magnificent machined beehive texture. The belly band and cap are gold colored. 'Made in Denmark' appears on the band. Remove the bottom barrel to expose an unused eraser that is glued to the window portion. Absolutely fabulous! Ann paid $25 for her treasure. It is her most expensive pencil ever, but as she says... 'well worth it!' She is a doll to share it with us.
Jeri Warhaftig, of New Jersey... had to admit to herself that she was hooked on float pens, after she dreamt about them three nights in a row. Don't be afraid Jeri. You are in the best of company and we are a friendly lot.
Sarah James... has a special request. Sarah is partial to float pens that depict fine art. If you have such pens for trade or you can point her in the right direction... please do.
Scouts... Randy Berner, James Reusser, Brett and Rose Bigelow provided several new contacts for this issue. Thanks folks! Even if I do not tap into each and every source immediately, the information is invaluable. Your support is appreciated.
Now I would like to introduce... Danish collector Finn Sorensen. Mr. Sorensen is a rabid collector of writing instruments. His collection just crossed the 100,000 mark, with over 4,000 float pens/pencils included. Wow.
Each year I meet many pen collectors. Few are as enthusiastic as Finn. In September I received a 40 page letter of introduction with comments on numerous subjects found in each issue of Float About. Enclosed were copies of magazine articles about his collection. In the process of responding to his questions and observations I have already established a firm floaty relationship.
Finn is a big Eskesen fan. He intends to visit the factory before the year comes to an end. In time I expect Finn will be added to the traders list. For now he is entrenched in several collectors clubs, organizations, and working on behalf of a friend. Finn made it a point to meet with Miranda just a month or so ago. I think we will be hearing from him on a regular basis. Welcome aboard Finn.
Judd Perlson... is another connoisseur of writing instruments. Judd buys, sells and collects all kinds of pens. Knowing that I live very near Columbus, Ohio, he suggested that I attend the pen convention in November. Coincidentally Bill and I were doing an art fair in the immediate area that same weekend. We took Judd's advice and arrived at the pen show Sunday morning.
My first observation... this is obviously a guy thing. The majority of dealers and buyers were male. Bill and I were amazed by the multitude of materials used to create fancy fountain pens, but I wasn't going to be satisfied until I uncovered something that floats. We discovered one dealer that had the Floaty Nation pens for sale. For me it was a bit like shopping in the Diamond District. It was educational, fascinating, and even relaxing.... but I was true to my heart. We scoured the entire show and I was elated to find a float pencil by the Secretary Pen Company and one fabulous Eskesen float pencil. If the opportunity arises... give it a try.
FAKES ALIVE! ... There is a twist 'n' click pen being distributed
in NYC. The pen was made to commemorate the New Year's Eve celebration. At first it appears to be an Eskesen, but it doesn't take long to spot the differences. The words 'Made in Denmark' are not molded into the top of the pen. In fact, it is free of any origin markings.
Between the opaque barrel and the window there is a tiny, thin black band. You will not find such a band on an Eskesen pen. It took Eskesen years to develop the t&c... not to mention a major investment in specialized equipment. It took China just a few months to produce an inferior version and get them on the streets. A hard reality in the new global marketplace. I contacted the factory in Denmark to see if they were familiar with the t&c copycats. They are very aware.
DISPLAYS..Edward Lai's wall cabinet is fashioned from pine shelving that Ed has painted white. It measures approximately 37" tall x 28" wide x 8" deep. There is a special cubby hole at the bottom used to store his more valuable pens.
I appreciate the clear glass across the entire front. It offers an unobscured view and provides dust protection. This is an important factor to consider when housing any collectible. The more dusting, the more likely the damage.
He purchased several of the black gridwork displays to organize his pens. Each grid work is dedicated to a category and identified with white labels. Categories include: advertise, glitter, music, nature, nudes, transportation... just to name a few. The grid displays are ideal because they allow for additions to each category without the hassle of shifting the entire collection. Categories can also be rearranged at any time with ease.
Ed has created an attractive, functional display with maximum visibility and optimum capacity. If you would like more information about Ed's cabinet just ask. He is between email accounts right now, but I will forward your questions.
One of our loyal... Turn of the Century customers asked Bill to design and make a special wooden display for his favorite fountain pens. Barry is a very patient man. At least three years passed before Bill tackled the project. The pictured display is made of cherry. He also made three in black walnut. Before they were all sold, I couldn't resist seeing what float pens would look like against the wood grain. In my opinion, while it is a beautiful display, the materials clash. On the other hand, Barry was delighted.
Point-of-Sale Displays... are usually parked at check-out counters. Too bad they aren't always filled with float pens. This display is an official float pen unit offered to retailers.
This clear plastic unit is divided into four compartments. Each pocket will hold about 20 pens. It measures roughly 8" wide x 8" high. The base is 4.25" wide, but the compartments are only 2.25" deep. The Floating Action sign is simply printed paper attached with transparent tape to the backside.
Now for the good news. I have a limited number of these displays for sale. You will find them under Related Products on the list. Each display will arrive with a printed paper Floating Action sign, but that doesn't mean you have to use it. Create your own personal sign to reflect the personality of your collection.
BUBBLE TROUBLE... it may be possible to avoid pesky air bubbles in your pens. I do everything in my power to assure pens in my custody are never exposed to abrupt temperature changes. We heat with wood. My pen room is situated at the back of the house and therefore the coldest room on first floor. An electric oil heater keeps the room at a steady temperature.
Outgoing pen packages are never placed in the mailbox for pick-up by our carrier. Bill and I make a trip to the post office 6 days a week. It is our first and most important stop of the day. Packages are hand-canceled at the window to bypass the voracious canceling machines. Packages remain indoors until transported to their next destination. From there... how they are handled is out of my control. This distresses me, but there isn't anything I can do about it.
There is something you can do at the receiving end to discourage bubbles. When a pen package arrives cold... do NOT crack it open and see how quickly you can warm the pens. Be patient. Place the package in a cool area of your house and let it stand for an hour or more. Then move the unopened package into your living space, which I assume has moderate temperatures. Wait another hour or more before you open the parcel. Last step... open the package, but do not remove the pens yet. Allow the contents to reach room temperature for yet another hour or so.
If this process sounds like it will try your patience... imagine how long it takes to acclimate a large box of pens. I resist the temptation to open the box and leave them overnight. I have had great success with this method. We know that extreme temperatures are detrimental, but is it the radical cold or heat... or how quickly the pens reached those extremely high or low temperature? I wouldn't bet my life on it, but I would say that abrupt changes are more apt to cause bubbles than extreme temperatures reached at a slow and steady pace. Acclimate slowly and you may keep those bubbles away.
SHIPPING NOTES... Think rubber bands instead of tape when shipping trade pens. I believe most of us salvage and save the packing materials we receive for reuse. Cellophane tape applied to bubble wrap is almost impossible to remove without the use of razor blades or scissors. The packing material is often destroyed in the process. Rubber bands are less expensive than tape and they can be removed without damaging the wrapping material. It's a win-win combination.
PSYCHOLOGY... Why do we collect? is not an unanswered query. Explanations are plentiful, opinions varied. As a collector and psychologist, Dr. Amy Altenhaus, offers an educated slant on the subject. Amy reviewed the psychological literature and recalls the ideas of several theorists. A review article by Olmstead (1991) reports that 'most children collect things with girls collecting more than boys.' By adolescence there was a marked decline in collecting, especially for women. 'Among adults, serious collecting is done primarily by men.' Amy suggests the possibility that 'middle aged men collect because they have the time and/or money to do so.'
Some early Freudian theorists linked collecting to unresolved feelings or conflicts. 'One theorist related collecting to a substitute for sexual desire for another person.' An analyst sites collecting as a device for gaining control. Another mentions our 'aggressive drives' to hunt for items 'is akin to the hunt of prey'.
The results of a survey involving 97 people determined three basic reasons for collecting. 1) ward off depression 2) to gain control of something 3) for the collector to maintain a positive sense of themselves.
Dr. Amy advises... 'To understand what collecting means to you, you need to look at it in the context of what else is going on in your life and most especially, does collecting interfere with what you need to do, or is collecting kept in perspective to the activities and obligations that you have.'
Amy collects, restores and treasures vintage jewelry. For years she has also collected float pens, but her family calls them shaky pens. Amy's article appeared in a copy of the Vintage Fashion & Costume Jewelry Newsletter. If you would like to read the entire article contact Amy via email at Dralten@aol.com
PENS PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE... With the release of issue #22, 76 new designs were added to the pen list. Don't expect to see a flood like that in the near future. It was somewhat of a fluke and a significant financial investment. My goal is to introduce 25-30 new designs with each newsletter. Sorry I fell a little short this time. I will make it up to you in issue #24.
Before I forget to tell you... the popular Mr Bones skeleton pen has made a surprise return. I didn't expect to see this pen before spring. Find him under the Humor category.
I am expecting a series of five different Three Stooges pens. Consider the scan a sneak preview. And if that isn't enough celebrity... as many as six new Elvis pens too. Both series are expected to arrive in February. Issue #24 isn't due for release until mid-March. If you are interested in either set watch my website or contact me via email, phone or fax around mid-February for an update.
PEN LIST #23... Twenty new scans have been added to the Main List. Most of them are scattered under Locations/US from NYC through South Carolina. There is also a photo of the Euro UPS boxed set for the first time.
Advertise newcomers... Altoids , Archie McPhee's (pictured), Capri School where 'Attitude is Everything!', Students wave from the Coliseum in the 'We Love Latin' pen, and the Rudolph & Sletten pen features a construction worker waiting for a crane hook to lower. Most of these pens were designed by Float Art and are in very limited quantities.
Britain Tour... adds two pens from Bath. The first features a ferry, the second, a double decker bus rolling past Heritage City.
California Dreaming? ... Four new and exciting designs from the San Francisco area. A bear strolls past a grove of redwoods in the Redwood Highway pen. A sailboat squeezes between SF & the Golden Gate Bridge in the float pen pictured at the top of my webpage. A row of colorful sailboats pass SF by night in the third pen. A happy red heart floats over colorful illustrations of SF monuments in the fourth pen.
Events include... Lucy & Nat's Anniversary pen, Libby & Ed's wedding pen called Hooked in Minnesota. Doves rise in front of the Basilica of St Mary's Millennium pen (pictured right). It's a 2000 party in the new twist n click Millennium pen.
Brand new Seattle Designs... cover all the popular sites. Glitter pours over a Seattle by night scene. A green and white ferry makes it under a sky lit by fireworks. A leaping Orca moves past a silhouette of the city and Mount Rainier. The first Space Needle is a vertical with floating pink umbrella. The second Space Needle design is more traditional.
A happy red heart floats over illustrations of famous Seattle monuments. (Yes... that is a steaming hot cup of coffee on the left side)
See you later! Issue #24 should be released mid-March. I look forward to serving your float pen needs in the 21st Century. Until we meet again, do your best to ... Stay Afloat! Diana
I'm ready to go pen shopping... Pens for Sale
Back up to Issue #22 please
Read on! Issue #24
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