Float About... #31 © Copyright Tues/Aug 21, 2001
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

Marge Simpson pen

So much news... so little time! Give me a second to pop my favorite Elvis Costello CD into the player and I will be ready to rock. It seems we have survived the hot and stickiest weeks of summer. Time to dive right into a cool pool of floaty news and splash wildly about. There is cause to rejoice.

Find relief from the heat with a sensational summer series of Simpson's pens. If you are a fan of pop culture and cartoons, this refreshing series is right up your alley. The Marge pen, pictured right, is just one of the recently released Matt Groening designs. In addition to the classic style set of six, Bart and Homer have their own tip n strip pens. All 8 designs... spectacular.

There are many reasons we do not see more licensed characters and products represented in float pens. It involves investing a staggering amount of time reviewing licensing agreements, wading through legalese and then there is the added expense and issue of royalties. If we expect to see more licensed pens, we must be prepared to pay a few extra pennies. It's always worth the difference.

For many years we depended on Bright Ideas Unlimited to bring us character pens. This California distributor provided a long line of animated celebrities to include: Gumby, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Popeye, Batman, Looney Tunes, Felix the Cat (my fave) and many more. BI continues to design and distribute a line of Betty Boop floating action pens. I am sure you are familiar with their work. In recent years, BI has concentrated almost exclusively on their Betty Boop products. The only recent exception... the Three Stooges set of five released just a few years ago.

In the mid 90's Topline Products created six Flintstone pens. From 1996-1998 I carried them on my list. At that time I had about 200 active collectors and thought I would never sell out of Flintstone pens. Oh what a difference a few years and the Internet makes. In the last few months, I have heard that pens from this same series have sold for as much and more than $56 each on eBay. Who knew?!

Floaty Industries is responsible for the Simpson's set. It's encouraging to see a major distributor venture into licensed territory. If this enterprise is successful, maybe we will see additional designs. I am offering a handful of Simpson pens as singles for $4.25 each. I recommend the set of six pens for $24. The tip n strips will sell for $4.25 each. Reserve now! This is a sneak peek of the Simpson set.

Media Sightings...
Craig Wilson asked... if we were watching The Incurable Collector hosted by John Larroquette on A&E. At the time I had yet to catch even one episode. Since then, Bill and I make it a point to meet in the living room every Sunday at noon to watch the program. I make bracelets, while Bill catches up on a hand sanding or an assembly project. We both really enjoy the show. I am so glad Craig reminded me to check it out. The show is an entertaining look at collectibles from the finest auction houses to flea markets around the world. The Incurable Collector airs at noon (EST) on the Arts and Entertainment channel. Larroquette, a confessed compulsive collector, is the perfect host. I have yet to see or hear any mention of float pens, but it is just a matter of time. Stay tuned.

Media Sightings... continued

Sandy Medof As previously mentioned... the Sunday July 15th LA Times Magazine included a full-page article entitled Literary Movement From Burbank, the Latest Wave in Floaty Pens, by R. Daniel Foster. The article focuses on Floaty Industries and owner Sandy Medof (pictured left).

Float About also received mention. Just to clarify, no... I do not have 13,000 pens in my collection. I have over 8,000 pens in inventory and 5,000+ pens in my personal collection. The Times simply combined the figures. You can visit your local library to read the copy or hit (NOTE: link defunct; removed May 2015.) They charge a nominal fee to provide the entire article.

Photo by Ryan Romero

The Chili's Bar & Grill pen... is back in stock. The hot and spicy Chili's pen was introduced in the June #30 issue of Float About. I stated “The genius for this ground breaking film remains a trade secret, but I imagine it's a float pen collector at work... or at least someone with a sincere appreciation for the art form.” I was so right!

Imagine being emotionally moved by a fine oil painting. The next thing you look for is a signature. You feel a need to know the talent behind the painting. It's a natural response, but TV commercials are void of signatures. I was so pleased when Guy Bommarito stepped forward and sent this email. “FYI, The Floaty Pen commercial you discussed in your newsletter was produced by GSD&M Advertising in Austin, Texas. Art Director and floaty pen collector: Gene Brenek. Copywriter: David Parson. Creative Director: Guy Bommarito. Producer: Kate Talbott. Production company: Olive Jar/Red Sky. Director: Flip Johnson.” The crew deserves accolades within and beyond the industry for this floaty fantasy on film.

My next step... find Gene Brenek. Could he possibly be one of MY collectors? Yes! I must know how the idea for this commercial developed. Gene provided some background. “The assignment in a nutshell was to create a 30 second spot that was animated and used our Chili's pepper.” Influenced by his 90+ floaty pen collection, Gene and partner David Parson figured it would be fun to have a family driving down the road to end up at a Chili's restaurant. “Just think of all the things along the way that could be substituted with chili peppers?!”

“Maybe the spot wouldn't end there. It would be really cool if everything up to that point was a whole world onto itself taking place in the waiter's pen.” They describe this place as floatie pen world. “We tried to mimic the colors and surfaces of the objects you would find in a floatie pen.” They consulted with Olive Jar, their animation house, to discuss what would and would not be appropriate inside floatie pen world. The idea of having a squirrel scurry up a tree was abandoned. “We all thought that sounded pretty cool until we realized that in a floatie pen things don't move north or south. Then we got really particular about the motion of objects. (We didn't want floatie pen collectors disappointed that we hadn't done our homework!) We realized that beyond the north and south issue that if the car was moving east that everything else would move that direction too.”

Keep your fingers crossed. There is a good possibility that Chili's Bar & Grill will run the commercial again. Until then, a special thanks to Guy Bommarito for directing me to Gene. My appreciation to Gene for allowing us to peek behind the curtain. If you missed the Chili's pen it is still available under the Main List/Advertise column for $4.25.

Collectors inquired, “How did the pen go from commercial to an Eskesen pen?” Many collectors called and emailed Chili's hoping to get one of THOSE pens. This prompted Chili's to contact the talented staff at Ideal Motion Promotion to have a custom pen made. This is the same company responsible for the coveted Heinz Ketchup pen. In six weeks, the deed was done and the rest is float pen history.

Hawkeye Breeders Service, Inc.... are experts in semen, semen collection, freezing, shipping, storage, sire housing and finally... conditioning. You heard me right. They are without a doubt sperm specialists. No, not for humans... for cattle. I've been browsing their brochure and I must say, if I were a bull... this place looks like Disneyland! Their facility, in Adel, Iowa (near Des Moines) is operated by a three generation family management team dedicated to the safety and comfort of the sires entrusted to them. While this is obviously a serious business, the company took a unique and fun approach to promoting their industry. They chose to make custom float pen. With the help and guidance of Ideal Motion Promotion the sperm pen was born.

Sperm Pen
Yes... those are 3 very enthusiastic sperm approaching a Holstein in the Hawkeye Breeders Service pen

I frequently receive requests for this pen. I finally contacted Hawkeye and I was able to persuade them to allow me to purchase 25 pens to share with my collectors. I wanted more, but their supply was low and they were headed to some promotional events. These will sell out immediately, but in time, I hope to be able to get more. I am confident the company will place a reorder. Incidentally, this is the second version. I can not give you specific details about the differences, but I know that the newer pen features a black and white Holstein. Hawkeye will mail order pens to individuals for $5/pen + shipping/handling fees. For now, find them under New Arrivals for $5.50, while they last.

Collectors News...
Friday, July 13th... Bill and I headed for the Chicago area to do an art fair at Oakbrook Center. Financially the show was good, but it was also fun. April Warner, a newbie to float pen collecting, stopped in on Saturday to introduce herself. Sunday morning, just as the show opened, Roberta Bledsoe and husband stopped in to say “hello”. Roberta is a veteran collector, but a new resident to the USA. It's always fun to meet collectors face-face. In the past, I have met with Linda Sienkiewicz, Kaye McDonald, Norm Kautt, and Don Rubin while we were in this area. A nice mix of pleasure and business.

After the show, Bill and I opted to spend Monday at the Brookfield Zoo instead of going into Chicago. While it was a delightful day, we were a little annoyed. Not only did we not get to see the baby wharthogs, there were no float pens to be found. I mean NO float pens of ANY kind. I walked away empty handed.

June 10th Dee Paparatto... recorded another disappointment. Dee and family had just returned from Niagara Falls. Most of the float pens she found were of Chinese origin.

Earlier this summer, Cindy Raines spotted... a Hallmark float pen featuring their popular Maxine character. The theme is stress and the pen is accompanied by a note pad. Unfortunately this writing instrument is NOT an Eskesen. This is the second faux Maxine floaty that Hallmark has released. When will they ever learn?!

On a happier note... Miranda W. reminds me that Disney Stores in Las Vegas and New York are carrying a few float pens. These are pens that will not appear on my list. If you have an opportunity to mailorder or trade for them... please do so.

Ginny Hamme and husband Ron... journeyed to Italy this summer for an art history and sightseeing adventure. Ginny reports... “The Sistine Chapel ceiling was the best for me. It's the most magnificent work of art I have ever or probably will ever see again. The power of it doesn't come across in photographs, and words don't do it justice. I just looked up and started to cry.”

In between art hopping Ginny was pen shopping. I didn't offer her much hope when she left for her trip. A number of collectors had gone before her and reported finding pens made by Italian manufacturers and only one or two Eskesens. Even so, Ginny claims, “Believe it or not, but I found some Eskesen pens over there. They weren't in abundance, and it took some looking, but they were there. I found more in Florence than in Rome. The Disney Stores in both cities had three pen sets.”

Jean-Yves Arnoult and family... of France, visited several USA cities this summer. Jean-Yves, a serious Eskesen collector, wanted to meet with as many collectors along the way as possible. Attempts to get together with Nancy Knechtel at Niagara Falls failed, but he managed to meet Andy Balbus for lunch at McDonald's on Fifth Avenue in NYC. Andy and Jean-Yves shared their very first climb to the top of the Empire State Building together, via the elevator ... of course!

Hamme & Arnoult Families

The Arnoult clan met with Ginny and Ron Hamme in Harrisburg, PA. They came together over an American favorite... ice cream at Friendly's. Mrs. Arnoult and Ron are both teachers. There was an immediate bond. The Hamme's are considering a trip to Paris in a few years. It's likely the collectors and teachers shall meet again. The Arnoult family has returned safely to France. I hope their missing luggage has caught up to them by now. Picture: Ginny & Ron with Tiffany Arnoult on the left. Across the table... Jean-Yves, wife Catherine and daughter Sophie.

Finn Sorensen of Denmark... traveled all the way to Missouri for the annual American Pencil Collectors Society convention. Finn's pen obsession goes far and beyond float pens. With over 100,000 pens and pencils in his collection he still doesn't have enough. Finn's journey took him to England, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Chicago and home. It wasn't a shortcut. Knowing Finn, I am sure he left no stone unturned in search of pens. Miranda and I have been trading pens with Finn for sometime now. If you are an experienced trader and possess the patience for international trading, reach Finn via email pencollector@jydeadsl.dk. He has a long list of interesting foreign/domestic designs for trade.

Announcing new and refreshed...float pen websites. German collector Conny Dambach and Netherlands collector Marnella Bak have opened their web doors. Conny hopes you will sign her guest book. Marnella looks forward to hearing from you too. Nancy Knechtel and Miranda Wittebol have both made major changes to their sites. Find all www links on the websites page.

Collector Doug Yeo... is the Bass Trombonist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His job affords him the opportunity to float about major cities around the globe. Doug and I have been communicating for several months. He has an incredible website. http://www.yeodoug.com Nancy Nerenberg of Float Art helped Doug realize his floaty vision. This pen was created to promote his website and business.

Doug Yeo's pen

Visit his site to uncover the history of how the pen was developed and an explanation of all the interesting instruments within. Doug is offering the pen for $3.25 + $1 s/h. If you order $40 worth of merchandise from his site you will receive a FREE pen. The pen is also available on my list for $3.75. Find it under New Arrivals/Advertise.

Family members make the best... float pen scouts. Tari Elskamp tells me, “Two of my sisters recently went on vacation. One headed off to California, the other went east. Both remembered to bring me float pens! How sweet!” Congratulations are in order. Tari and boyfriend Rob are to be married September 15th in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Harris Lindenfeld received a postcard... from his daughter and son-in-law from their honeymoon in Denmark. The message reads, “25! and counting...” I think they hit the floaty motherload. After all, they are in Eskesen country!

Royal Wedding
Speaking of weddings... this one is a royal affair. Dutch Prince Willem-Alexander is to marry Maxima of Argentina making her a Dutch Princess. A pen has been created to commemorate their upcoming nuptials. Koninklijk Huwelijk means Royal Wedding. I honestly didn't think I would be able to offer this pen for sale, but Miranda secured 25 of them for me. In Holland this wedding is likened to the uniting of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. If you doubt my word, an Internet search for ‘maxima + alex’ will lead you to numerous websites devoted to the subject. Find the pen under the New Arrivals/Celebrities category. A real beauty.

Oh! Best wishes to all of the newlyweds.

Every clan, cult, and collectors group... cultivates it's own unique jargon. Float pen collecting, no exception. We have labeled the different styles of Eskesen float pens: classic, twist n clicks, clicker, slanted top, round top, etc. conceal/reveal, tip n strip have been adopted to define the type of motion. Eskesen registered the comprehensive term ‘® photoramic’ to describe the kind of image that appears in most of their pens.

Craig Wilson suggests, “It almost seems like someone should coin a name for the kind of pen designs where the floater disappears behind a foreground object and emerges transformed on the other side, maybe a Transformation. It seems to be a common idea, occurring in the new Humane Society pen, as well as the 24 Hour Fitness pen, the X-ray pen, and the Los Angeles Pez-a-thon pens to name but a few. Would it be a subcategory of the Conceal/Reveal variety of graphic?” Definitely a direct reference to the image. What do you think?

Displays and Storage...
Terry Lemonds writes... “I have had some of my floaty pens mounted on cardboard, in a horizontal position, hanging on my wall for about three years. I noticed a pretty severe warping in some of them. I assume it is from the stress between the clip and the cardboard. Have any of your floaty collectors had this problem?” I wanted to respond to Terry in Float About for the benefit of all.

Yes, I have had a similar experience and I know Ron Lanyi has too. It doesn't have anything to do with the horizontal or vertical positioning, but rather, as Terry suspected, the stress between pen and clip. Plastic is very malable under constant stress. The clip was so tight it pulled the top of the pen towards the cardboard. Pens warp when they are tightly fastened or forced into unyielding displays or storage units. I have some sound advice regarding the display of classic style pens.

When you clip your pen to a surface, make sure the pen is in a straight position, not at an angle. Do not jam your pens together. There is a tip that holds the pocket clip in place. I will refer to it as the clip tip. The tendency is to tighten the tip clip before attaching the pen to a display surface. Better to loosen the tip by at least a quarter turn. Backing off will lessen the tension. When clipping the pen to a piece of cardboard, insert the clip inside a corrugated flute. Do not extend the clip over the total thickness of the cardboard. Examine the surface of the display material. Make sure it isn't bowed or bent.

I have most of my pens stored and clipped to hanging file folders. I have not detected any bowed or warped pens on the folders. I make it a point not to use the Pendaflex brand as it is thicker than most. A less expensive name brand seems to work best. I do not see any sign of warping in pens that are displayed in the gridwork displays either. Probably because the pens are not confined, but loosely displayed. Rule of thumb... don't force them into or onto anything!

Pens past, present and future...
Did you miss the Humane Society... of Missouri pen? Collector Laura Kennedy has a handful of them for trade. (NOTE: email no longer exists; removed May 2015.)

The Zodiac set... of 12 pens from the Netherlands is available. I only have four sets. I am offering them for $36/set. No singles! If you are interested, this is a jpg of the entire Zodiac set of 12. Note the date is in a Euro format. It is doubtful I will be able to obtain more.

They're BACK... these pens have been out of stock for awhile, but they are back by popular demand. All three pens appear under the Main List within their specified categories. Dresden Ohio, Basket Capital of the World. A basket floats over street scene (Advertise). Neil Armstrong lands on the moon (Events). The beautiful Chicago/Water Tower pen features a flying kite. (Locations/IL).

Float Aways... should always be your first stop. This time, most of the pens in this category have fewer than five pens available.
These are designs that will not be restocked.

Grace Cathedral SF

New Arrivals/Advertise... As seen in this issue... Doug Yeo's website promo. The stained glass window floats up/down in the Grace Cathedral Church (pictured right). The Hawkeye Breeders Service pen shown earlier.

Van Goghs Sunflowers

Three new entries from Nancy Nerenberg of Float Art: The JUGS Company specializes in a wide variety of sports ball throwing machines. The Museum of Wonder Wall pen is somewhat of a mystery. Years ago, Andy Warhol's controversial painting Wonder Wall caused quite a stir. I am unsure what this pen represents, but the background panel certainly has a 'Warhol' look. The third Float Art pen is the cutest. The Sir Arthur's promotion pen is more than just 'Jolly Good Stuff', it's jolly good fun! All three pens are in very short supply.

Asian Elephant pen
Animals... The Elephas Maximus - Endangered Asian Elephant.

Cartoons... Matt Groening's dysfunctional animated TV family, The Simpson's, comes to life in this series of six floating action pens. Two more Simpson pens are now available. The Bart and Homer tip n strip clicker style pens.

Celebrities... include the wedding of Willem-Alexander and Maxima pen, featured earlier in this issue. The elegant Sunflowers pen (left) was inspired by Van Gogh's famous painting. Someday I will have an art category, for now it will just have to reside under celebrity.

Events... Lee Williams asked if I had any new wedding pens for this issue. I told her, “sorry, no.” The very next day I received an email from Float Art offering me the Adrienne & Mike California wine country wedding. They should be in by Wednesday. Only 10 available.

Viking pen

History... the first entry suitable for this category in a long time. How many Viking pens do you have in your collection? The caption reads ‘Vikings’ ‘Nordic People who settled in larger areas of Eastern and Western Europe from 800 - 1100’.

Humor... is always a popular category. The first three pens were designed by Jack Keely: Cocktail Party (below), the Gator Gal and Hawaiian Hula Girl (right). The fourth, designed by Maud Simmons, is simply sumptuous Sushi!

Transportation... These are Lighthouse pens, but the floaters are sailboats. This is why I placed them under Transportation. The artwork is the same in both pen, only the pen styles differ. The first Lighthouse pen has the new rounded top, like the Royal wedding pen. The second pen has the slanted top and translucent barrel. Both pens come in assorted colors.

US/Locations... category has two enchanting designs. A white Squirrel gnaws on a nut in sunny Idyllwild, California. Last, but certainly NOT least... two proud Boston residents are featured in this Massachusetts Boston Terrier pen.

Issue #32... is scheduled for release in October, hopefully by the 21st. In the last issue I said that from 'time-time' I would be posting Choice pens on eBay. It's not your imagination. The time has yet to come. Our craft show schedule is lighter than years past, but we have been doing about two shows per month. With three shows to go I do not foresee posting on eBay before late September or early October. I can add your email address to an eBay notification list if you wish.

Temperatures have cooled... so Bill and I are enjoying our evening coffee on the porch again. The hummingbirds and goldfinch provide the entertainment. Recently we have had some spectacular sunsets. I managed to document a few with the digital camera. What a fantastic tool. There were supposed to be 30 new pens for this issue. It was close. Even though I was a little short, I trust there is something there for everyone.

Has summer been good to you? Did you find any pens? Do any traveling? Any media sightings to report? Yes, or no... there is still time.
Pen hunting season runs through autumn. Enjoy the quest!
Until next time... you know where to find me.
Always afloat... Diana

That's all for now.
Go forward to read Issue #32
Back up to read Issue #30

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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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