FLOAT ABOUT... © Copyright March 3rd, 2000 Issue #24

Hail Floaty Friends ... with each passing day it becomes increasingly apparent that spring is near. On February 26th Bill and I attended the first Mansfield flea market for the year 2000. The fact that our attire did not include jackets, long johns or boots was the amazing part of our adventure. Everyone was in awe when we reached a record high of 72 degrees. That is double what we normally experience in February. Since everything seems to be running ahead of schedule I decided to push publication of issue #24 forward. New float pens are the foremost feature of this issue... so let's rock 'n roll!

The King is Back... What do Elvis, the Three Stooges and Aliens have in common? They have all landed at Float About.

Elvis performs 'Jailhouse Rock' in this scene from the movie

Celebrity pens are scarce, so it is always a joy to discover one. The Elvis set of SIX is a fabulous find. The artwork in each pen depicts a famous and treasured Elvis tune. All Shook Up, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock (pictured above), Love Me Tender, and Teddy Bear are represented. Each pen stands on it's own merit. I highly recommend the complete set. I am offering the set of six for $21 (plus S/H). This price may increase after the first 50 sets are sold. Find it under New Arrivals/Celebrity.

Three Stooges fans will be delighted with the newly released set of five pens: Just say Moe!, Moe and Larry have meringue on their faces... Curly is their next target, Moe grabs Larry by his hair, Stooges Rocket, Wolfman creeps up on the Stooges. The set is superb. The pens capture Moe, Curly and Larry up to their usual poke-push-pull antics. The set will sell for $17.50... for now.

Apparently, aliens have landed in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Our fascination for visitors from distant planets seems to have peaked with our entry into the new Millennium. This latest alien pen is an exceptional example of extra-terrestrial humor. A spaceship ascends/descends over a roadway. Two alien figures stand in the foreground. Sci-fi cool. Find it under New Arrivals/Humor.

Kellogg's colorful cast ... of characters appears in two promotional designs from Cereal City. I doubt there is a family in this country that doesn't have a box of Kellogg's cereal in their kitchen cupboard. Tony the Tiger is a regular guest at the breakfast table. Cereal is often the fuel-of-choice that sustains us through our busy day. Kellogg is a name we know and trust. I am pleased to offer both of their float pens on my latest list. Find them under the New Arrivals/Advertise category.

Both pens are presented in their own resealable plastic package. Tony the Tiger and friends appear as the Factory Crew working in the first pen. A yellow bus full of Kellogg's characters rolls up/down a residential street in the second pen.

The legendary Heinz pen... , with ketchup pouring over a basket of french fries, has been retired. Did I hear a gasp? The conceal & reveal clicker style pen has become a revered classic. It reflected the quality of the company and the pride they express for their products. It was an outstanding design. Even so, Heinz has decided to 'move on'. They have initiated four new designs. This time they have taken a humorous approach.

All four pens have a clear window with the photo image of a company character afloat inside. Baby Dill, Private Pickle, Leader of the Pack, and Ketchup Character each rise/fall in their own pen. The Heinz signature logo is stamped in white on the bottom barrel. The characters' name is included under the stamped logo. Find the foursome under New Arrivals/Advertise.

Whistle while you work... In issue #23 of Float About the Eskesen floating action whistle was introduced. Eskesen customers received a whistle attached to their 1999 holiday greeting card distributed by 'E'. Many collectors asked how they might obtain a whistle for their personal collections. I was able to arrange a purchase of the holiday whistle to share with you. This is a special piece on so many levels. It is a promotional item made in limited quantities to celebrate two events.... the 1999 holiday and the crossing into 2000. It is one of the first whistles produced by 'E'. It is also a keyring! Even if you do not intend to collect float whistles, this is the ONE to own. The price is right too... $3.50 each.

Good News from Disney... for three major USA cities. New designs will soon debut at Disney Stores in Chicago, New York and Las Vegas. I wish I could give you some clues what designs to expect, but I really don't know. Savor the suspense. Don't forget to watch for Disney pens outside of their theme parks and stores too. California and Florida will be the first states involved.

London... will unveil a new design that includes their monumental Millennium Dome. Brian is thinking it is also time for London to have a skyline pen that includes the Big Wheel. Esekesen pen sets are now available at U.K. airports. As designs become available I will make every effort to include them on my list.

The float pen book ... has not been abandoned. In a recent note, Brian assured me that work on the book continues, but at a slow pace. He travels quite a bit and it is difficult to find time to concentrate on the publication. It will take tremendous effort on his part to get it finished. We must continue to exercise patience and have confidence in Brian. As news breaks I will keep you posted.

Way Back in 1999... (issue #18), a six feet tall gray display was featured. Up until now the four sides of said display have been empty.

A variety of new fabrics, with a millennium theme, were introduced late in 1999. The one that caught my eye exhibits the skylines from six of our favorite float pen cities. Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Hollywood, New York and DC are each depicted in a night setting. The fabric is shades of gray, blue, black, and silver with an occasional red accent. It almost glistens. Unlike it's companion fabrics, this design did not include any mention of '2000' or the 'Millennium'. Just what I needed to inspire a new display.

The fabric has been cut and wrapped around scrap cardboard. The pieces were attached to the display with velcro dots. Immediately below each cityscape a silver matboard is mounted to hold float pens that represent the city featured above. 25 pens can be displayed under each city. All six cities will be represented by a total of 150 pens on just a single side of the 4-panel floor display. Now just three more sides to go!

San Francisco and Seattle are shown in the photo.

A MEDIA ALERT... direct from Beverly Broadstone. She caught a tribute to the float pen on UPN's Dilbert. Beverly related the storyline. Dilbert phoned a Computer Tech Support line to complain about his new computer. While Dilbert was explaining his problem, the rep was tilting a float pen. A close-up of the pen revealed a sailboat floating back & forth, palm trees with an ocean background. Really cool!

Even before they zoomed the pen, Beverly noticed this pen was drawn differently than the one Dilbert held in his hand and the others on his desk. Sure enough, when they pulled in close to view the rep's pen, it was our beloved floaty. This episode featured Jerry Seinfeld's voice as the Master Computer charater. Beverly confessed... 'I just realized how obsessive I am.....I mean, really..... even searching the cartoons for a float pen sighting!' Your efforts are appreciated Beverly. We are glad somebody was watching!

SCANNING TIP... direct from a novice. You will notice some of my latest scans are inconsistent and below previous standards. Sorry about that. To relieve Bill of my overwhelming scan-load, I purchased a scanner of my own. I am still learning. That is oh so obvious. I have a handy tip for you. When you scan your float pens, do you get a flash the entire length of the pen? There is a simple solution. Determine the direction that your light bar moves (horizontal or vertical). Turn your pen the opposite direction... perpendicular to the light. It will lessen the flash. I trust my scans will improve with practice.

COLLECTORS NEWS... Bridge players... will soon have a pen to call their own. Miranda has submitted and approved a Bridge pen design. It is currently in production at the factory. Miranda and friends, attend an annual folk dancing event in Holland. This inspired Miranda to design a pen to commemorate the event. Prototype has been received, she will soon place the order. I will eventually offer both pens, in limited quantities, on my pen list. Miranda will have them for trade as well. With a lot of luck, both pens should be ready in time for FA #25.

Janice Vega's sister Laura... is a high school English teacher. She noticed one of her students taking notes with a floaty pen. Laura ran over and exclaimed, 'You've got a floaty!' The student looked surprised and said, 'Huh? It's just a pen with some fox in it that moves up and down.' Janice is sure the student thought her teacher was deranged. Janice is lucky to have a sister with such fine-tuned float pen radar. The student divulged that her mother had purchased the pen at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Have you seen this pen? Two fox cubs frolic in green grass. I received one in a recent trade with Nancy Given. It's a very nice design, especially if you have a fondness for foxes. Janice has an Aunt that will visit the casino to procure a pen for her collection. It's great that Janice's family supports her passion for collecting pens. I trust you get that same measure of encouragement from your family and friends?

In December of 1997 ... the first Collectors Unite pen was released. For those of you unfamiliar with this item... the caption panel included the names of 21 collectors. The picture featured collectors from the USA and Europe. A float pen glides from one collector to another. Each participant in the project committed to the purchase of 40 float pens. 1,077 pens were manufactured.

A second design is long overdue. For the last week Miranda and I have been casually tossing ideas back and forth. If we weren't so busy and distracted, we might have amassed several ideas. I fear we are both suffering from overload. We did manage to conjure up two basic concepts.

Since the theme of the pen remains 'Float Pen Collectors Unite'... these ideas reflect the global scheme. Eskie, Eskesen's mascot (pictured), drops float pens from a hot air balloon. The basket of the balloon has the name 'Eskie' underlined by a float pen. The colorful balloon has 'Eskesen' or perhaps their logo displayed. The background panel has North America at the bottom, Europe at the top. We haven't even discussed foreground images, but they are important to give the artwork perspective and depth.

The caption panel would begin with graphics. Eskesen's logo + a float pen + these words 'Collectors United...' followed by the names of 21 collectors. Why 21? you ask. Realistically it's hard to fit any more than that in the caption panel. If there were more than 21 people interested ... a similar design with a plane or rocket ship might be in order. Bill volunteered the idea of a spaceship with floating Eskie astronauts.

Nothing is carved in stone. We are just throwing out ideas to see what bounces back. If there is enough interest we can have a sample pen made and present it in final form. Then we can begin the sign-up process.

Late Breaking News from Eskesen... 'E' has begun building a website. It is in the earliest stages of construction,but already you can see the potential. Under Product Info there is an interactive form for collectors to complete. You can sign up now. Remember, Eskesen manufactures the finest action floating products in the world, but they do not offer them for sale. Do not expect to purchase pens or other items direct from 'E'. Even so, I am confident that it will be a fabulous site to visit. And what fun! We get to watch the site blossom and flourish. http://www.Eskesen.com

SHIPPING WOES... Lost, delayed and or damaged mail is a troublesome affair that plagues us all. The question of responsibility has risen. I receive mail that is torn, crushed or otherwise mutilated. In many cases, it is not the fault of the USPS. Collectors are sometimes unaware of the handling process and send pens in inadequate packaging.

A postal clerk explained that items measuring over 1/4 inch thick are removed from the line, by hand, and separated from the pack. That is, IF they are spotted. If such a package makes it to the canceling machines, it is often damaged. I have received pens bent in half. To avoid the machines, I take my packages to the window and watch the clerk hand cancel each and every one of them.

Despite our best efforts to package goods for safe transport, mysterious things can happen along the way. Bill sent a small package to California. When it arrived it looked as though a truck had driven over it. Bill was certain the contents were well protected so he did not insure the package. You may file or register a complaint, but don't expect to be reimbursed for anything. We assume the postal service is required to deliver our goods in a timely manner and in good condition, but if they fail... they are not held accountable.

The only way you can be compensated for damaged goods or lost packages is to bite the bullet and pay for insurance. On small packages this is not a major expense. According to my Get More From Your Post Office brochure, items ranging from $0.01-$50 in value, insure for less than $1. Rate charts and special services are defined and posted at http://www.usps.com
It's one of those handy sites that I have bookmarked. The best part is they are open 24 hours! If you are confined to snail mail, many informative brochures are available upon request at your local post office.

International Trade... is even more complicated. Andy Balbus shipped a package to Denmark via air mail. He invested a good sum of money to insure the parcel. The package was delivered to Finn Sorensen while he was away from his house. He came home to find a Xeroxed facsimile of the top of his box stuck to his front door. The Xerox did not include any instructions or divulge the whereabouts of his package. It was too late to call the delivery service, so Finn impatiently waited until the following morning.

His phone call determined that his parcel had been left in his yard!? To add insult to injury... the box was exposed to frigid temperatures overnight resulting in pens with bubbles. Is Andy responsible? No way! He did everything in his power to assure safe delivery. If any one is at fault it is Finn's carrier. The location of the package should have been noted on the copy. The box should not have been left unattended and exposed. In the end, Finn was able to eliminate or at least shrink most of the bubbles, so it was not a major catastrophe, just unnecessarily stressful.

We are going to have to address where the responsibility falls when trade packages are lost, stolen or damaged and the parcel is not insured. Many of us can not afford to insure our international trade packages. The fee often outweighs the value of the pens. I ask you to consider this theoretical dilemma. Let's say that I send 30 trade pens to Miranda in Holland and she in turn sends 30 pens to me. I receive her package in about 10 days. Even though I shipped her package via Air Mail which is usually delivered in 7-10 days, 18 days have now passed and Miranda does not have her trade pens. What do you think I should do? I am anxious to hear your ideas.

Cyber Currency is a Reality... Are you familiar with PayPal? William Scarborough suggested the service. Many people were introduced to PayPal by an article that appeared in a recent Wall Street Journal. I noticed more and more eBay sellers are using it. It's impossible to tell how many buyers have signed on. There are no fees, it is a free service. I am seriously thinking about opening a PayPal account. It would enable me to accept credit card payments for amounts less than and over $50. I know this would be a big advantage for my collectors. If you are curious about their service visit http://www.paypal.com If you have an email address your are eligible. If you already have an account I would like to hear your review of the service. I am a cautious creature by nature.

I continue to ... post pens on eBay. In my descriptions I include important information like the going retail price and keywords such as 'readily available' and 'in current production'. Even so, people get caught up in the frenzy of the auction and sometimes overbid. These collectors are given the difference in credit towards any pens on my list. I couldn't possibly accept $24 for a float pen that I offer every day on my list for $4! I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I did. I post to serve our fellow collectors and do everything I can to see they are treated fairly. To date my buyers have been happy campers.

Refilling a twist n click... is a tricky task. I will attempt to describe the process. First.... sit down. Wrap one hand around the window portion... the other hand grabs the bottom portion. Put your fists, with the pen, between your knees. This will hopefully prevent parts from shooting across the room and getting lost. Twist your hands in opposite directions while pulling the pen apart. Don't be afraid. It takes a tremendous tug.

The inside parts consist of three pieces: 1) a white cap 2) the refill 3) a spring. Now let's get it all back together in the proper order. The white cap seats half-way into the cavity found at the bottom of the window portion. Add the refill, next the spring, then slip the bottom barrel into place. Push the window portion and the bottom barrel together. This will require some force.

If a small gap remains between the two pieces... place the top of the pen against a hard surface (desk or table) and push the bottom barrel until the two pieces snap together. When the parts are properly in place there is barely room for a fingernail to fit in the seam that separates the bottom barrel from the window.

Discontinued... pens include the Advertise/Heinz Ketchup over fries, Animals/Sea Serpents, Sports/Baseball, and NY/Rochester/Flower cart designs. These four designs have been retired. It happens.. and without warning.

Just over 30 new designs... were introduced to this list. Several have been mentioned or pictured earlier in this issue. The Advertise category alone has the two Kellogg's pens and Heinz foursome.

Don't overlook these newcomers... Three new designs in the Animals category: North American Wildlife/Moose , Butterflies float in a clear window, Shimmering splendid Seahorses afloat in an underwater scene.

We hit the Celebrity mother load... with the six new Elvis and the Three Stooges sets.

The Events category... has two new entries. The Eskesen float whistle is a must. Secondly, this pen is not new, but it is new to my list. A basket of Happy Birthday balloons float in a vertical format. The caption panel reads 'HAVE A GREAT YEAR'.

Humor category... features the sci-fi Las Vegas Alien Landing pen. Available under the New Arrivals/Humor category.

Foreign additions... include a slightly different version of Britain's Houses of Parliament. I also have a handful of Buckingham Palace pens. An Amsterdam series of three pens shares the same background, but each has a different floater. Amsterdam: Boy & Girl on bikes, Calliope on street, Ferry cruises port. If your collection lacks traditional Holland pens see the Family Touring the Tulip fields and the Children in a Wooden Shoe pens. I think the Texel pen is extraordinary. It is a conceal/reveal clicker style with the Texel crest permanently in place. A frisky seal appears/disappears with the tip of the pen.

You are no doubt familiar with the Delft blue patterns that appear on ceramics imported from Holland?
If you appreciate the patterns and artwork...

... you'll treasure this Delft Sailing Ship pen.

In the near future... I will receive four new designs from the foreign distributor that produced the I Love Cats pen. They offer similar designs that relate to other animals. I Love... Cows, Dogs, Dolphins and Horses are on order. The purchase will also include a colorful Poison Dart Frog and a new Insect pen. I will scan and post them the minute they arrive.

Our craft fair show schedule... will begin mid-May. Bill and I are toying with the idea of a one week vacation sometime around mid-late April, but I refuse to get my hopes up. By some miracle, if it should really happen, I will post the dates on my website. In lieu of a vacation, we can always open the shop doors. Fresh air always makes for a better work day.

Tax time... will be tough to get through this year. We have a date with the accountant on the 21st. I hope the taxman treats you very kindly. Assuming I survive, issue #25 of Float About should be posted by early May. In betwixt we must all enjoy spring. It is once again time to resume our hunt. Whether you are vacationing, traveling on business or surfing the web from the comfort of your home... keep those eyes wide open. It's important to look everywhere for float pens, even in the least likely places. Winter is passing. It is time to stop floundering and float!
Forever Yours...

Ready to read Issue #25
Time to go shopping ... Pens for Sale
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