FLOAT ABOUT... #29 © Copyright Tues/February 20, 2001

Did you have a dreamy Valentine's Day... or was it business as usual? Bill has managed to pull off a few romantic acts in his time, but mostly by accident. We celebrated quietly by sharing a nice lunch and we exchanged small gifts. It was just enough. I hope your V Day was exactly what you needed and wanted it to be. Now it is time to put that all behind us for another year and take the next step towards spring.

Florida Dolphins Pen

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This new offering
can be found under
New Arrivals
Florida Dolphins.
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Eskesen news... Have you visited Eskesen's website lately? If not, please do so soon. There has been a major reformation. Eskesen is receptive to remarks from their collectors, designers and fans. Do not hesitate to comment. Visit the site on a regular basis as it is truly a continuing work-in-progress.

Brian tells me “The new translucent barrel colors for the 964Ds (t&c) are really popular. That was just what we needed to achieve a more modern, trendy look.” The chrome clip helps set it apart from the black wire version. Brian agrees that the new slanted top, added to the twist n click style, seems to make the pen more complete. I do not have samples of the translucent barrel or slanted-top pens to share, but I believe they will surface as early as spring.

Once again we find ourselves in the middle of the Dead Zone. This is the time of year when float pens become an elusive commodity. Vendors have placed orders for new designs, but until our favorite souvenir haunts open for the 2001 season, we can't get our hands on them. While we impatiently wade through winter, Eskesen is quite busy. Brian reports E has enjoyed success at two major trade fairs thus far this year. The website is getting noticed and they are receiving a great number of enquiries. The joint is jumpin'! This is good news for collectors worldwide. Be patient. Spring and summer are full of promise.

A reminder about our websites... For years our woodworking business, Turn of the Century and Float About shared the same webspace. Early in January Bill and I decided to divide the sites so they would become separate entities. Because many of the search engines have yet to establish the new links, and many collectors are using old book marks... floaty folks are having trouble reaching Float About.

If you have my site book marked, be sure the link is taking you to Float About. The old link, which was www.turn2001.com, will no longer take you to FA. To be absolutely sure your book mark is up-to-date, click on the new link, www.FloatAbout.com and set a new book mark. Be sure to go back and delete your old link to assure a swift and clean tie to FA. For those of you that were lost... welcome back!

You probably noticed a few changes to the FA website? The pen list is still divided into categories, but each category has it's own html page. Now Internet Explorer users should be able to utilize the category links like everyone else. The changes should make the list easier to navigate and enable you to print only the portions you want. Yes... I want to know what you think. I hope the links at the bottom of each page will also prove helpful.
NOTE... throughout the website Link 
Symbol this star indicates an active clickable link. A site map has also been created for your convenience. I apologize for all of the "pink". I am not a pink person , but something about pink and black speaks to me. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point the color scheme changes to black/brown/golds... as they are more my speed. If at any time you discover a broken link, please notify me. If you have anything positive or negative to say about the new format... I am listening.

Andre's display

Media Sightings...
French collector, Andre Perrin'... has been prominently featured in the January 2001 issue of lavie du collectionneur. An intro appears on the cover followed by an impressive article spanning pages 4-6. Over 25 pen photos are included. Would you like a photo copy? (Just $1 with pen order) (NOTE: Offer ended.)

Andre' is a respected float pen collector. This picture clearly defines his dedication. Those are ALL float pens and they all belong to Andre'. This photo was taken at a pen collectors convention last autumn. What an incredible display and homage to float pen collecting. Congratulations Andre'!

Beverly B had a real California Adventure... at Disney's newest theme park. I will get right to the good news, they have two float pens for sale. The first, "I Bearly Survived Disney's California Adventure" includes Mickey, Minnie and Goofy paddling a raft through the Grizzly River Run ride. Mickey, Donald and Goofy ride the park's new roller coaster in a vertical format pen with this caption, "California Screamin". Both pens are in the twist n click style. Looks like Disney hasn't abandoned float pens after all. Beverly has these pens and more for trade.

Disney Pen Prop

The California Adventure Park officially opened on February 8th, but Beverly Broadstone and her sister were able to attend a "test run". Bev's sister spotted a prop hanging from the ceiling. A giant pen, about 5 feet long, tipped to finish a letter addressed to Goofy, signed in neon by Mickey Mouse. While it does not appear to be an Eskesen copy, it is obviously a pseudo float pen. The pen is dry and there are no moving parts, but even so... wouldn't you love to add this to your collection!? Me too.

Kristen Ronberg and Lee Williams... both sent an email regarding a Zippy comic strip that featured a tip n strip float pen. Lee didn't mention her source, but Kristen was browsing the San Francisco Gate online when she uncovered the strip. The cartoonist, Bill Griffith, began his career with the underground comics movement in San Francisco. He introduced his character Zippy the Pin Head way back in 1970. Zippy was inspired by Tod Browning's 1932 flick entitled Freaks. It's possible you remember Zippy from your past. Perhaps this is your first introduction? Either way... you can find out anything and everything you ever wanted to know about Griffith and Zippy at www.zippythepinhead.com.

Gwen Garabedian found a tid-bit about Sea-Monkeys... in the December 24, 2000 Sunday New York Times. Now you can take your Sea-Monkeys to work, to school or to church on Sunday. The PenQuarium is a portable habitat for those tiny wet pets. It is a working, water-filled pen that can accommodate 2-3 adult Sea-Monkeys for 12-14 hours. It also features a light so that owners may view their monkeys after dark. Just remember to return them to their home tank at night. It may not be an Eskesen, but it is truly a unique floaty pen. I am not certain where you will find this item. A good toy store would be the place to start. I imagine there will be a group organizing the End Cruelty to Sea-Monkeys Movement.

Dynapen could be dynamite... So long ago, in issue #11 of Float About, I mentioned a company called USA Vicki. Over the last few weeks, I have learned a great deal more about the company. It was actually called Vicki's Ideas, Inc.. In the late 60's Vicki's Ideas became a distributor of Eskesen products. In this capacity they created custom designs for corporate clients which were in turn manufactured by "E".

Vicki & Eskesen Pens

Vicki's Ideas developed a variety of designs and marketed their products to toy stores, theme parks and tourist sites. It was Vicki that promoted a line of 288 different personalized name pens. By the 80's VI had become a major mid-west Eskesen distributor. And it was in the early 80's they began producing their very own version of the clicker style float pen. Now we know where the stamp 'USA Vicki' originated.

VI ventured into production to capture more clients. Many corporate clients were excited about the prospect of having a pen made, but lost interest when they heard the lead-time required for production. Vicki continued to purchase the bulk of their name pens from Eskesen, while pursuing high profile customers like 7-Up, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and so on.

When one of their founding partners passed away in the late 80's Vicki's Ideas was sold to the Magic Pen Company. Shortly afterwards MPC went out of business. The remaining partner of VI regained ownership.

Autumn 2000... enter Russell Voelz, a renegade from the auto industry. Trained as an engineer, well versed in manufacturing, Russell was primed for a new position and new way of life. That is a polite way of saying his job was phased out and he declined a great opportunity to relocate with the company. Instead he chose a brave and risky course. He decided to start his own business... Dynapen Inc.

Russell purchased the tooling, equipment, and inventory from Vicki's Ideas. Dynapen intends to reestablish the niche formerly created by VI. They plan to concentrate on name pens in the conceal/reveal clicker style rather than photo floating action images. “If all goes well with name pens, any extra capacity will be applied toward the promotional market.”

In the meantime, you may have seen some of the inventory that Russell has acquired for sale on eBay. The majority of the inventory is Eskesen name pens, in pristine condition. He has a limited supply of various vintage slogan and promotional floaty pens manufactured by both E and VI. He is in the process of replacing dry refills with working cartridges. Note some of the vintage pens have bubbles, but you will be told that in advance.

Yes! You should visit the website to see what Russell has to offer. (NOTE: Link and business now defunct.) It was Andy Balbus that first brought Dynapen to my attention. Then Nancy Given and I traded for some pens which she had bought from the site. I had a note on my monitor, “Call Russell for an interview for issue #29”, but he beat me to it. Russell emailed to introduce himself. That was followed by a two hour phone conversation. I now feel as though we are old friends. Visit the site and say “hello”.

Photo The Billy and Cocka-a-Doodle pens are Vicki products. The pocket clips are stamped “USA” + “VICKI”. The third pen is a lovely vintage conceal/reveal by Eskesen.

Collectors News...
European Collectors have united... to create their very own collectors pen. Jean-Yves Arnoult and Miranda Wittebol have been providing progress reports. The pen will soon be available for trade. If you don't get the details before, I will have an update and photo in the next issue of Float About.
Jean Yves & Mayumi

It is truly a global community... Mayumi Takahashi of Japan, has made her way to France on three separate occasions. Her most recent visit, in the fall of 2000, included an introduction to French float pen collector, Jean-Yves Arnoult. After their initial meeting at the City Hall in Paris they settled in for a float pen powwow (you can do that in France too). I am told they both enjoyed their floaty encounter, which was likely enhanced by a pen exchange. Jean-Yves said that Mayumi is extremely camera shy, so I am most grateful to have this photo. I understand Jean-Yves intends to visit the USA. Maybe we should ALL get together?

Linda McCormick knows that I... share her appreciation for Halloween art and collectibles. She forwarded a stack of photos of her personal Halloween collection. The items are neatly displayed throughout her home. This is my favorite photo. There is something delightful about all those orange, black and white items nestled into the warm wooden tray. Thanks for sharing Linda.

Beverly B has initiated... a Floaty Webring. There is a link at the very bottom of my homepage. This is a brand new endeavor and growing daily. While you are in the neighborhood, please check it out. You can also reach the webring from Beverly's webpage http://members.tripod.com/~floatypens/index.html

Renee Snyder launches her ... very own floaty pen web page. This is a brand new venture for Renee. She has been collecting for seven years, but just discovered the online world of float pen collectors. Please take a few minutes to visit Renee's site (NOTE: Site defunct; Removed May 2015).

The psychology of float collectors... is something we discuss from time to time. It is fun to explore our many likes and differences. We are not the only ones that delve into group examination. An intensive study of serial killers revealed that each and every one of them had something very disturbing in common. At one time or another during their lives, every one of them collected float pens. Just kidding! But I bet that got your attention. I was saving that for April Fool's Day, but the next issue won't post until long after the day is done.

My observation has been that float pen collectors share a sense of humor, and a genuine affection for the art of collecting. I have yet to discover anything dark, sinister or creepy in my floaty encounters. I honestly don't think we will find any Hannibals among us! In fact, we seem to be surrounded by good people. For ten years Tina Ashby, of England, has been a regular customer at a small watch and clock shop. The owner repairs, sells and collects watches. Tina refers to him fondly as "the Watchman". For Christmas Tina had holiday float pens stamped with a personal message to give to friends and family. She gave one to her Watchman. She recently stopped in to say "hello" and he presented Tina with a floaty pen that had been custom made for a local bank about three years ago. Tina was elated. "You never know where your next floaty pen will come from." I think, we each have our own personal guardian angels floating about.

My trading status... must change. I am going to have to refrain from trading for awhile. Any trades that are currently in-the-works will be completed. I will continue my trade relationship with Miranda, but it will have to stop there, at least for awhile. I haven't cataloged the last 1,500+ pens that I have taken in trade. Since I have no idea what I have and don't have, I seem to be trading for the same pens over and over. Also, I am investing everything I can spare into pens for Float About. Since November and until May I will not have a craft income so I must be conservative. For the time being my personal collection is on-hold until I get it tamed and under control.

New Pens past, present and future...
Pens from Ireland... may not arrive in time for Saint Patrick's Day. It's frustrating, I know! Every time I think my purchase is moving forward it comes to a screeching halt. I promise I have not forgotten nor have I given up on getting the Irish pens. Be patient. I am confident I will eventually seal the deal.

Tip n Strips... I don't dare jinx it, but I am awaiting word about some non-traditional tip n strips. They are expected in March. I may just have to release them early to make up for the weak number of offerings in this issue.

The Float Aways Category... has at least 8 designs that are slated for discontinuance. There are less than 10 of each design available. Last chance!

This one is a triple-hitter... CyberWorld is a new animated film distributed by IMAX ®. It is the story of Phig, the film's computer-generated hostess, and her plight to rid her cyberworld of nasty viruses that like to eat circuitry. The viruses take shape as three colorful and bumbling bugs who are always hungry.

Imax-Intel Cyberworld Pen
In the window of the pen, Phig (in the foreground) fires a laser beam at Buzzed, one of the pesky bugs, as he flies for cover inside some circuitry at the far end of the window. His eyes pear through the green maze of wiring on the circuit board.

Through the magic of IMAX ® 3D technology, the amazing realm of the animated story becomes real, as the characters of CyberWorld leap off the screen into the audience. Experience the thrill at an Imax® near you. This pen represents two major corporations... Imax® and Intel. It also promotes a specific movie, making it a triple-hitter. Find it under New Arrivals.

New Arrivals/Advertise... Besides the Imax® pen above, there are but two new additions: Pawpourri Pena working Bermese Mountain Dog appears in the "Pawpourri" pen.

Three older designs... get a new look. I only wish I could have gotten this one to you in time for Ground Hog Day! A Ground Hog is removed from his den to predict the length of winter. The snowman in the snowdome pen has a fresh face and snowflakes have been added to the window. I think you will really enjoy the rework (pictured below). A Tyrannosaurus Rex hunts in prehistoric setting.

Snowdome/Snowman Pen

The Transportation category... has but one new entry. It is a clear window sailboat pen, and it's a beauty!

Locations/US... begins with a new Florida/Dolphin design. Texas/San Antonio features a river raft and Dallas Trolley Bus.

Kitty Watch...
For those following our kitty news... both Keogh and Minki appear to be in good health. They will visit the vet in early March for their final FIV tests. We received word two days ago that yet another cat has passed away with FIV in our neighorhood. I believe his name was Figaro, a gray male, just four doors away. He died within days of diagnosis. He was a regular visitor on our property last summer, so I continue to hold my breath.

Issue #30 of Float About... is due for release around April 15th. With any luck Bill and I will be on vacation. In which case, FA will post as soon as possible upon my return. I will be sure to keep you informed regarding our plans. I have jury duty at the end of March. I do not anticipate any interruption of service, but if I should experience a glitch, I will post an update on my website.

Before you know it winter will be over and we will be on-the-hunt once again. Whether you are planning a spring vacation, cruise, or simply exploring your immediate neighborhood, be sure to keep your float pen radar tuned. Eskesen pens may not be everywhere, but remember .... you could find one anywhere!

Happy Trails & Trades to You...
Until we meet again,

The Bulletin below was issued as a follow-up to issue #29.
May 2015 the Bulletin #2 was tagged to the bottom of issue #29, as a matter of convenience.

Float About Bulletin #2
Sun/March 11, 2001...

There is so much going on... it required a bulletin! Let's begin with the hottest media sighting in the recent history of float pens. Yes, I am talking about the Chili's Bar & Grill fabulous floaty TV commerical. Linda Sienkiewicz was first to bring it to my attention, Beverly Broadstone filled in the details. Kristen Ronberg provided a great deal of contact information. Then Linda S forwarded a video tape of the commercial so that I could see it too. The commercial is absolutely incredible. It unfolds within a float pen! In the grand finale, the camera pulls away from the floaty scene to reveal the pen is in the hand of a waiter taking a food order from a family seated at the restaurant. If you have a Chili's in your area, watch for the commercial. I promise you will get a real kick out of it.

The rumors are true. Chili's Bar & Grill has a float pen in-the-works. I am in touch with the distributor and I am trying to make arrangements to get pens for everyone. The pens will not be ready for another month or so. Just in time for issue #30 of Float About. At that time I will also elaborate on the details of the commercial. I hope the notification will allow you time to capture the commercial on tape for your very own archives.

Pen SALE...
Before we leave for vacation...
I am having a PEN SALE! Get .50 cents off each and every pen that you purchase from the Float Aways and any Main List Category. That is $5 saved for every 10 pens you buy! The only category exempt from this offer is New Arrivals. For the purpose of the sale, the Float Aways list includes all of the pens that have ever appeared been listed as Float Aways. The sale begins Sun/March 11 and ends midnight Fri/March 23, 2001. To qualify, payment must be received by Fri/March 30th. The 'pen list' button at the bottom of this page will take you directly to the category pen list.

Kitty Watch... Tues/March 6th we took Keogh and Minki... to the vet for their final FIV tests. We were told it would take an hour or more to get the results. After six months of waiting and worrying that last hour was sheer torture. The news was well worth the wait. Both kitties tested negative. Major sigh of relief. I slept better Tuesday night than I have in months. It was the kind words of encouragement from my fellow collectors that fueled my hope for the last six months. I thank you all.

Diana's West Coast Float About...
Scheduled Stops: San Diego, San Francisco & Seattle...
It was 1997 the last time Bill and I took a real vacation. The last three years we have discussed a spring getaway, but when push came to shove... we didn't budge. I am reluctant to leave home, because when I do, I am cut-off from all of my fellow collectors. I must confess, I have been feeling like I am chained to my computer. As difficult as this is for me, it is time to cut the cord.... for just a little while. We both desperately need time to relax and refresh.

April 5th Bill and I will embark on a fantastic float about. Our journey begins with San Diego, then on to San Francisco and last, but not least... Seattle. We intend to return very late on the 20th. On our last vacation, in addition to personal luggage, Bill and I each carried a file box full of float pens. That doesn't sound too complicated until you trace our steps through 7 different airports, on/off 12 airplanes, in/out of 3 hotels plus hopping from taxis, shuttles, busses and even cable cars along the way. The constant worry about ever-changing temperatures, losing a box in transit and of course theft, were absolutely exhausting! Guess what? This time the pens are staying home.

We have arranged for housesitters to move in the night before we leave. They will keep the home fires burning. Really! We heat with wood. Their #1 responsibility will be taking care of the cats. We have made it clear they will NOT be answering our business calls, faxes, emails etc. Float About and Turn of the Century will be dormant for the duration of our trip. We do not own a laptop, but hopefully we will be able gain Internet access in each city so that we may stay in touch with everyone. We will be checking our voice mail at least every other day. We will be staying in touch.

Orders that arrive in our absence will be arranged and handled in the order they were received. If all goes as planned, we will be back in our offices the morning of April 21. Please allow a couple of days for us to catch-up. Soon after we return I want to release issue #30 of Float About and introduce the pens I find in my travels. I will be coming home with samples of the new translucent barrels and slanted top twist n clicks. There will be plenty to share. Remember, if you wish to take advantage of the sale, orders must be placed by the 23rd and payment received by March 30th.

Just in case we are going to be in your neighborhood... request our itenirary. I am going to resist the temptation to schedule formal meeting times, because in the past, that has never worked. We have a lot of ground to cover and our plans will revolve around weather, seeing family and attending some business appointments. If I can arrange to meet with you... I will. The itinerary includes phone numbers where we can be reached in each city.

With a little luck from the Irish... I could have Ireland pens in-house for issue #30. I mailed a check this very day. There is some good and some bad news. The distributor was not able to find any Riverdance pens, but I was able to purchase float pens with a clear window and an Irish flag afloat inside. The bottom barrel is stamped 'Ireland'. A second design has been included in the order, details sketchy.

And with that... I bid you adios. I am counting the days until my vacation.
Can't wait to pack my bags.
As Always... Afloat!

That's all for now.

Go forward to read Issue #30
Back up to read Issue #28

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FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11 am - midnight)

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