FLOAT ABOUT... #28 © Copyright Sun/Dec 17, 2000
Happy Holidays to All... Yes, I know! This issue has probably reached
you at the most stressful time of the year. I can only hope you will set
aside a few moments to kick back, relax and catch-up on float pen news.
Before I get all tied-up in tape and gift wrap, I want to thank you for
sending the beautiful greeting cards and emails.
They were a real boost to my holiday spirits.
Happy SouthWest jet pen under New Arrivals
Eskesen continues testing the market... with new concepts and products. Some ideas may never reach the buying public, but know that the staff at "E" is forever trying new ways to dazzle the souvenir buyer. I do not own one, but I have seen a floating-action fountain pen created by Eskesen. It refills with a standard ink cartridge. A color coordinated cap protects the pen point. A second item... a baseball float pen, sports a ball bat styled barrel. A grand slam for Eskesen? Maybe yes, maybe no, but ball clubs may be offered this option with future orders.
The company has conjured up five fresh and frosty translucent barrel colors for pens. The response has been amazing. They are already in distribution to cruise ships. The colors are very iMac-like. Knowing that serious float pen enthusiasts are die-hard traditionalists, Eskesen hopes collectors will reach beyond the classics and embrace the current trends. I received this example with my Eskesen 2000 Christmas card.
Notice the dressed-up twist n click pen featured on the Christmas card? (Click on the card to get a larger view.) The pen flaunts a futuristic mono-colored pocket clip and top. In reality, the pen is not snow-capped, but what do you think about the design? One of the biggest complaints about the current t&c style is that the top is too blunt and appears unfinished. Do you like the new version better than the original twist n click? Your opinions are appreciated. Rest assured Eskesen continues to rule when it comes to cutting-edge float design.
Requests for Disney pens come in on a regular basis... but the cupboards at USA parks and national stores seem to be bare. I don't know what to tell you. It is winter, so I wouldn't expect pens to be available at many or any amusement parks right now. That doesn't explain why they were dry all spring and summer. Collectors are almost convinced that USA Disney is out of the float pen business. Store clerks offer little hope. On the other hand, Euro Disney pushes forward. The main Disney stores in Rome, Florence, London and Paris should have new 3-pen sets by the middle of March 2001. Why not in the USA?
On a humorous note... Brian, my factory contact, related a recent floaty incident. Seems that an "E" Marketing Assistant, Pia Rosendal, has a brother living in London. At the end of a night-on-the-town brother realized he had misplaced his keys. "All the consequences flashed before his eyes." He returned to the cloakroom to ask if the keys had been found. Indeed, the keys had been turned-in by an "almost honest person". While this good Samaritan was able to walk away from the temptation of the car keys, house keys, etc... he/she just couldn't resist pocketing the the Eskesen keychain and keytag as just reward.
Sarah James, of Massachusetts, forwarded a magazine article... entitled Building on a dream. The author, Ray Routhier, reports Collecting becomes a passion for some. He speculates that "collecting can help a person create their own little corner of the world, a place that is safe or fun or familiar, and is all their own". I agree. While working in the pen room, I take comfort in being surrounded by my pens. Do you experience a similar sensation when you admire your collectibles?
Collectors with a variety of passions were interviewed, but the article opens with the story of Chris Fenno's floating-action pens. Later in the article they relate how it all started for Chris. She purchased her first pen while vacationing in West Palm Beach, Florida with her partner, Chris Madsen. At that time neither of them were collectors. "Fenno bought a trolley pen and Madsen bought a metal tray and some metal coasters with maps of Florida on them." Madsen explains, "We put the pen and the coasters up on the mantel, we stood back and said 'WOW' ". To date, Fenno has about 400 pens.
The article appeared in the November 26 issue of The Herald News. For those of you online, you may read it in it's entirety. (NOTE: Link defunct) will take you to the paper's homepage. Conduct a search for title, author, and date. It was featured in the Local/Region section. Request a black and white photo-copy with your next Float About order for 50 cents.
Beverly Broadstone and her sister... were visiting the Huntington Library and Museum when Beverly's sister overheard a conversation between a couple. The gal was asking her beaufriend, "Did you know these pens are made by one manufacturer in Denmark?" While holding a float pen she remarked, "Did you know people actually collect these pens?" Beverly admits if she had been the one to hear the banter, she would have likely stepped forward. Unfortunately, she did not! So you see... we must keep our eyes AND ears open at all times.
Way back in early November... Cindy Raines, of Missouri, reported a floaty pen/note pad combo available at Hallmark stores, catalogs and even on their website. In the catalog it appeared to be an Eskesen pen, but when Cindy had a chance to examine an in-store model she was quick to note the difference. It was "poorly made, cheapy plastic pen with lots of air bubbles". The pen features Maxine and her dog Floyd on a sled "which is supposed to float down a tree-covered hill, accompanied by falling snow. However, once the fake snow drifts into the floaty tracks, Maxine and Floyd 'hang up' halfway up or down the hill". Cindy sent an email to Hallmark suggesting they consider an Eskesen pen the next time.
Lee Williams sent a most curious ... magazine ad for Pert shampoo. Are you familiar with the precocious Pert guy? In the TV ads he convinces women to have their hair washed in public to demonstrate the quality of Pert shampoo. Lee wants to know where she can obtain her very own Pert guy tip n strip pen. I contacted Micale Maddox, at Ideal Motion Promotion for the scoop. Since Micale is unaware of such an item, we both came to the conclusion the ad pen is likely a computer generated image.
Speaking of Ideal Motion Promotion... Kudos to Micale Maddox. The vice president at Teenage Research Unlimited, Michael Wood, is a regular contributor to Fast Company Magazine. In the December 2000 issue, Wood chose www.FloatPens.com (as of 2013, this link leads directly to Eskesen), Micale's web site, as one of his favorite haunts. Read all about it at (Note: Sorry Link Defunct) www.FastCompany.com or grab a copy at the newsstand. Congratulations Micale!
Nancy Knechtel has graciously arranged... for me to receive 20 pens from the Niagara County Community College where she teaches. Nancy is responsible for the conception and creation of this pen. What a pretty pen it is! Find it under the New Arrivals column... or propose a trade at NKnechtel@aol.com
The anticipated collectors pen is a reality. Eskie drops float pens from a hot air balloon to awaiting globes below. Two pens were created. They both share the same artwork, but represent two different groups of collectors. Note the pen graphic on each caption panel is a different color. I differentiate between the two by calling one the "red Tina" pen, the other "lavender Jean-Yves". Be sure to specify your preference.
Place an order for $25 or more worth of merchandise from my list, by December 30th, and receive one free collectors pen. They will also be offered for $3.25 on the list. Less than 900 of each pen has been manufactured. They will not be reissued. Many of the collectors involved have pens to share too. Whether you intend to barter or buy... it would be a nice addition to any stocking.
Norm Kautt responded to the... psychology of collecting addressed in the last issue. As a boy he remembers being fascinated by anything inside of something. "Like a penny inside of a small plastic bottle, or coins inside a Lucite cube, or even goldfish in a bowl." He concludes, "I have searched my conscious and sub-conscious and can't even come close to an answer. Don't ask me, why this fascination, and if you ever find out and it isn't good, don't tell me." Good or bad Norm... you've got a lot of company in that boat...enough to fill a ship!
Norm is more than a float pen enthusiast... he is also a fan of the Nash-Metropolitan automobile. Coincidentally, some months ago Nancy Nerenberg helped the Pacific Northwest Metropolitan Owners Club create a charming custom design. Now for the exciting part. Norm found the website for the club where they offer their float pens for sale. The price is so right... 3/$10. Perhaps you share Norm's appreciation for this classic vehicle, or you simply recognize that this is a great pen design, visit (Note: Link Defunct) to order your trio now.
She did it! 6,000 float pens... in her collection. Miranda crossed the big 6,000 mark this very week. That is terrific Ms Wittebol. It couldn't happen to a nicer collector. Miranda takes collecting very seriously, but never forgets to have fun along the way. I treasure my trade relationship with Miranda and having contributed to the size of her collection makes me feel good too. Does she have enough pens now? Heck no! Not nearly enough.
Reminder... A handful of Zodiac sets are still available through Miranda. She is charging $35/set of 12, or $3 per individual pen. Buyer will also be responsible for international shipping charges. You can contact Miranda via email firstname.lastname@example.org This is an item that I do not foresee offering on my list.
David McGahey... traveled to Santa Margherita, a terrific little Italian town overlooking the Mediterranean. David reports, "It's just a half-hour train ride north of the Cinque Terra towns." He was elated to find pens at a cafe in the depot. "I bought five for myself and friends. During the next two days as I wondered around town, but I didn't find any more pens. Could it be that only the train station had pens? It's a special town and these pens are hard to find. Maybe I should buy more? As I left town I returned to the station store. They still had six pens. I better get them. Then I was struck by collector guilt. If I take them all the next collector will get none. I bought five and boarded the train with a clear conscience. But who got that last pen that I left in Santa Margherita? I'd like to know." Personally, I think most of us would have done the same thing. David, don't beat yourself up. The pens you bought are now in the hands of serious collectors. No crime... no need to do time.
I subscribe to the Collecting Channel's... Insider Weekly. I wish I had more time to give it a thorough read. This item caught my eye and I thought it might also be of interest to you. The U.S. Postal Service is selling lost and old packages on eBay. Three USPS centers nationwide are testing the program. Items include family treasures, business supplies, books, and a so much more. They are using five user-id names relevant to the items for sale. Conduct a search for these seller names: usps-mrc-books, usps-mrc-movies, usps-mrc-music, usps-mrc-collectibles or usps-mrc-everythingelse. (Note: Link defunct. Removed May 2015).
This Wedding Display... was inspired by Lee Williams. She has acquired several wedding pens and was looking for some display ideas. She mentioned using a champaign glass, but thought it seemed ordinary. I had to agree until I spotted this oversized and bubbly plastic version. It was a summer closeout item and came in a variety of colors. Clear seemed apropos.
Clear glass marbles help steady the pens. The bride and groom are propped up with opaque white rods. I purchased little white doves to stick on either the base or rim, but I misplaced them. A trio of silk roses are wrapped around the stem. A paper-lace doily underneath it all. If the pens get too crowded it will be easy to upgrade to a larger container. The props will still apply. There is plenty of room for improvement, but perhaps it will incite further creativity.
Toothbrush/Pen Displays a Plenty... if you have visited a bath shop in the last 18 months you know there is an entire line of clear plastic float containers available. You will find soap dishes, soft soap dispensers, toothbrush holders, drinking tumblers, even trash receptacles. Unlike float pens, these items do not have moving film images, they have objects that bob up and down in an oily liquid. The liquid comes in a variety of atomic colors.
The summer selection of swans, turtles, rubber duckies etc... are on sale now. They are making room for the bobbing Santas, penguins and other seasonal themes. Please forgive me for the scan. I didn't have a lot of time to devote to this project. I purchased this floating swan toothbrush holder for $2.99. The lid has four holes in it, which makes it perfect for a small collection of toothbrushes. I popped the top off and dropped a handful of pens in the tumbler. I thought the swans were a good choice for my Boston collection.
Our brief November excursion to the Smoky Mountains... is now a distant memory. The first day of our journey was devoted to the long drive. The weather was fine, so we really didn't mind. No pens found enroute. We arrived Friday night in time to walk the strip in Gatlinburg and stroll in/out of the souvenir shops. The only float pens that I uncovered were the giants of Italian origin. I spoke with a store owner and he said that he made the mistake of buying a case of Chinese float pens. They were stored in a warehouse. Before they reached his store for the spring season, all of the oil had seeped out. He vowed to never order float pens again. I assured him he had purchased the pens from the wrong source. In the future, he should be sure to buy pens manufactured in Denmark.
Saturday we shopped until we dropped. Unlike our last trip to Gatlinburg, there was a lot of activity and most of the stores were open. Forest fires raged in the mountains, a phenomenon we had never witnessed before. Scheduling forced us to leave town on Sunday. On the way out we stopped at Dollywood's Gift Shop. They had three pen designs. Two were in short supply and fair condition. The third, a blue butterfly, appears to be new. I would have purchased more, but they were asking $5 per pen. I bought a handful of pens and we hit the road. Monday we visited three galleries in Berea, KY that carry our wood products. By midnight we were home.
PENS... past present and future...
Float Aways... have been updated. Be sure to head there first. Pens in this category are in short supply. Less than 10 pens per design. When they are gone, they will not return to my list.
Several new advertise and event pens ... from Nancy Nerenberg's Float Art. The first, Blue Balls, is a comical pen that refers to a childhood condition. For more information visit www.FloatArt.com, Nancy's webpage. She has a link to an article, written by her brother, regarding the subject.
Nancy is also responsible for these new advertisement additions: Ivory Consulting with Supertrump to the rescue, Mt Baker Real Estate, Top of the Charts, and Webvan. Nancy also had three event pens for this edition of FA: Key Largo or Bust!, Dreams come true for Chris and Dan, Grace and Merrick get married (check out their little dogs.)
The remaining assortment of ad pens include: the Southwest Airlines pen pictured on page one. It sells for $3.25. Welcome to the cyber age with two new entries... CyberNauts and CyberWorld. Both feature busy CyberNaut characters working at computers. Train fans will enjoy Roadside America and Roaring Camp. San Diego Zoo pens: Hippos swimming plus Polar bears in an Arctic habitat.
You don't have to have children... or grandchildren to appreciate the exhibits at Columbus, Ohio's COSI, (Center of Science and Industry). It's a place where science transcends learning... it's a hands-on experience. COSI exists to stimulate and inspire the minds of our youth. Whether it's a class field trip, or family outing, extend an invitation to visit COSI to a child and it's met with a smile. So much fun, and every visitor is sure to learn something new along the way.
Amy Johnson Crow, emailed to tell me that she discovered COSI had four pens
designed for their current exhibits. She was right! Bill and I stopped in
to speak to the folks at the gift shop.
This pen represents the progress that many of us have witnessed over the past Century. If you are old enough to remember S&H stamps... you will get a big kick out of this pen. It's a historic depiction of our modern world. Items featured include the family station wagon, the development of soft drinks, fast food restaurants, it even commemorates our first trip to the moon. A nostalgic trip down memory lane.
I honestly believe you would enjoy any one of the pens from this group. The Adventure into the Unknown Valley has an Indiana Jones feel. Poseidon's Realm' instills dreams of sunken treasure. Wired is oh so techie. In my mind, COSI seems to say 'Welcome to the world as we know it and embrace what it is destined to become.' I think more than anything, children walk away from COSI with a better knowledge of how things work and great expectations for the future.
COSI is located at 333 West Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215-2738. Hours daily are 9-5. Just for fun... explore their website www.cosi.org (NOTE: the pens are no longer available)
Space Center Houston... another great place to spark your imagination. I have a series of five pens from the Center. $15/set or individually for $3.25. Astronaut, Shuttle Landing Launch, Astronaut leaves manned mobility unit, and Saturn V (pictured).
What will the next issue offer ... in the way of float pens? I have not forgotten about Ireland pens. The distributor is extremely busy and slow to respond to inquiries. There is at least one clear window design with an Irish flag afloat. The second might be a "Riverdance" pen. Purchase is in-the-works. When they arrive I will post them on my website. Issue #29 of Float About should be sweet treat. I will target Valentine's Day, February 14th as the release date.
USPS announced their rate hikes... effective January 7, 2001. Perhaps the most extreme increase applies to Priority Mail. The $3.20 rate that previously covered up to 2# packages has been divided. Now the first pound is $3.50; up to 2# for $3.95. Still less expensive and more expedient than UPS. UPS Ground service is comparable price-wise, but it moves at a snails pace. Insurance rates climbed as well. The fee for packages valued at $50 or less jumped from $.85 to $1.10... OUCH.
My current shipping rates will apply until the new rates are inacted. For now, I will be filling orders and trying to get packages out in time for the festivities. Our holiday plans are up in the air because travel is so weather dependent. With a lot of luck, Joshua will be here for Christmas weekend. We intend to make our way to Pittsburgh on Tuesday the 26th to spend a few days at his place.
About Keogh and Minki... For the time being, they appear to be fine. Thank you so much for asking. My heart is still bruised from having to put Nash down, but the pain eases with each passing day. Apparently FIV has taken it's toll within our ranks. I received many stories about beloved cats that were stricken and finally taken by this dreadful disease. Your words of encouragement were so needed. Thank you! My cats will be tested again in March. If they test negative, there is an excellent chance they are not infected. I continue to hope for the best.
When I signed-off on issue #27... I reminded everyone to "Do your part to keep the world afloat... exercise your right to VOTE!" I was naive to assume all of your votes would actually be counted. In the aftermath of Election 2000 can any of us be sure? Like many Americans, I believed our voting system was accurate, secured and tamper-proof. For all of our modern technology, seems our voting process is in need of a major upgrade. How embarrasing! For the sake of Democracy... let's make sure we get it right the next time. OK... soap box closed.
And with that... I wish all of you the Happiest of Holidays and a
grand New Year.
Welcome to the 21st Century and the beginning of a new Millennium.
What a great time to be afloat on this planet! So nice we will enjoy it together.
Freezing, but bubble free...
PS... I can't believe I forgot to mention that Lian Farrer still has 196 float pens for sale. She is closing out her personal collection. "No reasonable offer refused". Contact Lian (NOTE: Lian's pens sold out weeks later).