Float About... #37
© Copyright Sun/Dec 1, 2002
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors
Greetings to all!... The holiday season is upon us. Bill, Josh and I were invited to a Thanksgiving feast at the home of our dear friends Ralf and Vicki. Their son and his fiance were in town too. It's always a pleasure to partake in Vicki's fine cooking and the company was fabulous too. We had a great deal to be thankful for and celebrated our shared good fortune. I hope you were so lucky! I wanted to post this issue before things got too crazy. Am I too late?!
Still no float pens to be found at Disney Parks... but a tip from Andy Balbus lead me to this series of four. This set is an officially licensed Disney product created for retail distribution in Canada. Each pen is packaged in cellophane with a colorful display card behind the pen (pictured in the first panel). I obtained 30 sets, so if you need this foursome as a gift for that special someone (maybe even YOU)... don't hesitate. This item will NOT be restocked. The set includes: Donald chasing Mickey, Mickey and Minnie passing love notes in school, Pluto and Mickey flying a kite, and number four... Goofy climbing a tree. As usual, all new pens mentioned in this issue will be found under the New Arrivals category.
Eskesen enthusiasts prepare... to be electrified, well at least enlightened. Back in the April #34 issue of Float About the marketing team at Eskesen promised ... “Some time later this year we will have a special treat for our fans world-wide but it is a little premature to reveal any details at this point. The only thing we can say for sure is: You don't wanna miss this one!” Sorry, I have to say it. ‘Let there be light!’
This is a twist 'n' click pen, but note the domed cap has been extended to house a lighting unit. Twist the dome and the pen is aglow. My sample has a red light, but another color may be available. The light is powered by a standard watch battery.
The clear window design is complimented by the light. I am anxious to see how it effects opaque artwork. The light pen is not yet in production, but it will be soon. Eskesen's Marketing Manager, Kim Hansen-Thyberg, was one of two reps that visited the USA in November. My distributors were provided with samples. I am pleased to introduce the new product to you! Pricing has yet to be determined, but I am guessing retail to be between $6-$8. If enough collectors indicate and interest, I will order them. So what do you think?
While we are on the subject of factory news, there is something else I should mention. Kim was quick to correct my statement in issue #36 about Eskesen having recently raised their prices. He informs me the last price hike was in 2001. It seems my distributors were slow to adjust their pricing. Only a handful of designs on my list have been changed to reflect the 2001 price increase.
Collector, Stephen Kenneth of the United Kingdom... was mentioned in the last issue of Float About. Stephen was featured in a British TV collectibles show and had just returned from the taping. He has since prepared and posted a summary of the entire experience on his website. The story even includes a short film. I am impressed. Stephen did an excellent job as a representative of our community. Be sure to congratulate him on his performance.
Wednesday nights at 10... does not strike me as the logical time slot for a collectibles program. I had to resort to a post-it on my monitor to remind me to tune-in to the Ultimate Collectors. It's a new 30 minute addition to Home and Garden Television's fall schedule. Imagine my surprise when I heard the host, Kevin Flynn, announce Ruby Montana as one of tonight's featured collectors?! I managed to jam a tape in the VCR in plenty of time to catch Ruby's Cowboy Kitsch story.
Many of you know Ruby Montana, after all, she is a Seattle legend. For 17 years Ruby had a fantastic store in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. The Pinto Pony was plastered with kitsch, baby boomer toys and pop-culture novelties. She eventually opened an annex across the street that offered retro furnishings and accessories. If you never had the opportunity to browse one of her stores, you may still recognize her name.
Ruby made two custom floaty pens to promote her business. The pen I first acquired portrayed cowgirl Ruby riding her Pinto Pony with a lasso around a pink flamingo. What a hoot! The copyright date was 1986. Ruby was also a co-sponsor of the annual Spam Carving Contest held on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) weekend in Occidental Square. Her involvement sparked the creation of a special float pen to commemorate the event. Ruby rides a black and white rat while chasing an animated can of Spam!
Ron Lanyi and I traded for these pens way back in 1995. Later I carried them on my pen list. Like Ruby, both pens have since vanished. A year or so ago I mentioned that Ruby had moved to Palm Springs, California, but only La Nea Conner had kept in touch. It's true! Ruby is now ridin' the range in sunny California. She has opened the Coral Sands Inn in Old Las Palmas (Palm Springs).
Ruby refers to the resort as “my finest collectible to date!!! Built in 1952 it is filled with kitchy treasures that are for sale!!! A new concept in STORE.” The Seattle Times article explained why Ruby was so important to Seattle and why they miss her so.
In case you hadn't guessed, Ruby is a cowgirl at heart and her collection of cowboy and cowgirl memorabilia is astounding. This link will take you to HGTV's synopsis of Ruby's Cowboy Kitsch segment. (NOTE: segment has been removed from the site; Removed from FloatAbout May 2015). I would expect the segment to air again, so watch their Wednesday night line-up.
If you just want to say 'howdy' to Ruby, or make Inn reservations, click this link to her Coral Sands Inn website (where I borrowed her photo). Happy Trails to you Ruby!
Sharie Kumaishi won the free float pen... for supplying the correct answer to the movie trivia question in issue #36. The question... What is the name of the upcoming movie that includes Mandy Moore, Allison Janney and Peter Gallagher? Answer: How to Deal. Target date for release was Valentine's Day, but that could easily change. If the project goes as planned, float pens will play a role of their own in this film. I will keep you posted.
Craig Wilson was the second collector to respond with the correct title. He provided me with his secret movie resource, IMDB.com. I have since visited the site several times for specific film information. If you are a movie fan, I think you will find it useful too. Bookmark this one! Thanks for the tip Craig.
Sarah Garrett contacted A&E this past summer... regarding the future of their Incurable Collectors show. They told her they intend to continue running old episodes, but will not be filming any new shows. Bummer.
Collectors continue to send copies... of the Acura ad that made it's debut in the May 12th magazine section of the New York Times. The ad is still making the rounds. It has been reported in everything from car to fashion magazines! The original sighting appeared in the June 2002 - Issue #35 of Float About.
Congratulations to Andy Balbus... on the opening of his new business Seller's Market. He is already accepting items for resale. November 18th he welcomed the first customer to his store. He is still getting the bugs out of the operation, but expects to be in full swing by the New Year. Best wishes Andy!
Kim, at Eskesen, mentioned that Ava Rosales... had visited the factory early in September. I contacted Ava via email and she was quick to respond. Like the rest of us, she was relieved to hear that she is ‘not alone’. Ava started collecting when she was just 5 years old. I think that breaks any previous record. Her first pen, a surfer, was a gift from a close friend. Since then she ‘has traveled far and wide in search of cheesy gift shops that carry my beloved pens’. When Ava was 13 she won Best of Show for her pen collection in the Orange County Fair AND got her picture in the local paper. Ava tells me, ‘Now I am 23 with well over 700 pens and my childhood dream of going to the Eskesen factory has finally been fulfilled! My next goal is to one day design my very own floaty pen’. Welcome aboard Ava.
The Jack Keely interview... in the last issue was very well received. Your comments were appreciated, especially since most were favorable. Lucky for us, Jack continues to create new designs. His Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme pen is a new arrival to this list.
The fourth Opera design... La Boheme, also by Jack Keely, is now available directly from www.operagraphics.com. Regina tells me ‘You can even make out all the little paintings Jack did in the background. They're really exquisite’. Just in time for the holidays!
I dislike having to disappoint you... but I was unable to obtain the Harry Potter pens. As expected, Marks and Spencer's was not interested in supplying me with pens for distribution in the USA. I exchanged a few emails with a woman in marketing. First she said they couldn't ship them. Then I was told they didn't have such a pen. A couple of collectors offered to pick them up on my behalf. However... to pay retail and international shipping would have made the resale price prohibitive. I expect them to make an appearance on eBay and be sure to watch trade lists.
Fish Paste!?... Mark Levine gives new meaning to ‘coming out of the floaty closet’ in his comical floaty column (NOTE: Link removed.) Mark openly shares his fondest floaty memories laced with humor. Share the obsession!
Our journey to the Pacific Northwest... began on October 15th. We landed at SeaTac, in Seattle about 1:30 pm, but it was 3:30 before we were on our way to Canada. Our timing was absolutely ideal... no border delays. Sunshine and blue skies ushered us north, our concrete path flanked by fabulous fall colors. We were approaching Vancouver as the sun set. Our first vision of the city was not unlike a scene from a futuristic sci-fi classic. The last few rays of sunshine reflected from a seemingly silver plated metropolis. Stunning. We had definitely arrived.
The first morning we hiked across the Granville Island Bridge to explore the Island's Public Market, galleries, art/craft studios and of course, the waterfront. The view from there was spectacular. I didn't find ANY float pens in this district, but we had so much fun... it didn't matter. We fell in love with the tiny Aquabus that ferried us across False Creek to our hotel. (See our captain at the wheel?) Our rental car got us to Chinatown where we stayed until we closed the place down.
Thursday we did the outdoor thing. A quick drive through Stanley Park and then on to Grouse Mountain for the Sky Ride. WOW! The weather was perfect. The clerk at the gift shop confessed to being a novice pen collector. I explained why I was so disappointed to see Italian made pens in their shop. She got quite an education! My work there was done. Clear skies prevailed, allowing us to see for miles as our tram descended to the base of the mountain. Next stop.. the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I can't believe I walked across it, but I did it! My bravery was rewarded. The gift shop had a site specific Eskesen float pen!
We arrived at Gastown just before closing. I found several pen designs at the Steam Clock Shop on the main drag. From memory I could tell most were already in my collection, but Bill helped me go through them. The pens were buried behind some other items on a glass shelf. The clerk was extremely distressed that Bill had moved the display. She kept saying, 'you know you have to put all this back the way you found it!' She continued to fret and pace behind us while we divided the pens into groups. After receiving another warning I had to grab her by the shoulders to settle her down. I explained, 'I intend to buy several pens, but I can't buy them if I can't see them. We know how hard it is to work retail. I promise you we will put everything back the way we found it'. Her co-worker, standing by the cash register, was smiling. Despite the frazzled clerk we chose 11 pens. We didn't find any pens elsewhere in the area, but most shops were closed for the day.
Friday we awoke to fog and drizzle. On our way out of town we spent several hours touring Richmond, known as New Hong Kong. Between a giant grocery and many mini-malls, we managed to expend the rest of our Canadian coin and paper. Thanks to Leslie Sena, Beverly Broadstone, Ron Lanyi, and Dolly Kaplan. They each contributed information, tips and suggestions that made our B.C. trip a breeze. I felt like they were with us all the way.
Now it was time to head south to Seattle. Coincidentally collector Gwen Garabedian, of Santa Monica, was going to be in town the same weekend. Her daughter Claire is a musician and had a scheduled performance at the Seattle Art Museum early on Sunday afternoon. We made arrangements to meet at the Seattles Best Coffee in Post Alley while Claire was at rehearsal. I asked La Nea, Rusty and Lori Conner to join us as well. We were all sorry Lori couldn't make it. Pictured left to right: La Nea, Rusty, (Claire's roommate) Tanya, Chaz (Gwen's husband) and Gwen.
Bill opted to investigate the Fremont and Ballard flea markets while I attended the Seattle Pen Summit. Our group had a little show n' tell, a lot of pen chat, and time to get better acquainted. A few pens were exchanged and before we knew it... time to say goodbye. When the Garabedian clan departed for Claire's performance, Rusty, La Nea and I visited the Simply Seattle souvenir store. We headed straight to the cash register, knowing that is where their float pens are displayed. La Nea and I quickly confirmed that we already had all of the designs, but we discovered one floaty freak.
It seems normal enough, but there are actually three floating ferries. Two of them are visible in this shot, the third is hiding. This misfit is destined to become a member of Miranda Wittebol's blooper collection.
Bill met us at Uwajimaya's, a Japanese grocery, gift and book store that also serves lunch, dinner and yummy desserts. La Nea and I shopped for Hello Kitty and then joined the boys for a nice lunch. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Our Seattle time seemed a little rushed, but we accomplished a day of bead shopping, Sunday with my fellow pen collectors, Monday with the ladies at Topline and we still managed to relax a little in between. We returned to Ohio on October 23. Given a choice, I wouldn't mind doing it all over again!
Seattle collector, Leslie Sena... has opened a web trading page (NOTE: page defunct; removed May 2015) with some interesting pens from the Washington State area. Send your trade list and see what happens.
Christina Pleva found four... new Eskesen designs while on summer vacation in the Cayman Islands. Closer to home she discovered a twist 'n click made to promote the seahorse exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. While attending a conference in Quebec City she picked up four pens plus a letter opener... all made in Denmark. She did note more Chinese pens have surfaced. Still, it's good to hear that Eskesen maintains a pen presence. On a happy note... Christina is planning her wedding. She is looking for an inexpensive, but creative way to display her custom wedding pens on her big day. Got any ideas?
New Arrivals List... just in time for the holidays
TV Toys Galore pen... from Miranda Wittebol arrived while I was on vacation. It was worth the wait. New designs from Nancy Nerenberg include: Georgia Innocence Project, Rock band Lilac Ambush, Paddiwhack and the return of Pawpourri. Two pens received minor revisions. Racing the Flag has a new caption panel and slight changes to the artwork. The latest Space Needle pen sports a new silver caption panel. As float pen collectors we sometimes overlook Eskesen's other floaty items. For the sheer novelty of it, this list includes an Eskesen San Francisco letter opener. Everyone should have at least one opener in their float collection. This item comes in a black tube.
Giant float pens have landed... at Float About. By special request I have added the grande 20th Century floaty pen, but you should know, these are NOT Eskesen pens. These pens were manufactured in Italy. They are nearly a foot long. I have never seen a giant pen that didn't have a giant bubble. However, if you stand the pen upright, the bubble disappears in a cavity obscured by the cap. They are novel and nice display piece. Pens come in a black gift tube. Only 12 available. Over a dozen new designs have been added to the Locations USA category. Enjoy the tour!
One more craft show... on December 8th, then Bill and I can call it quits for 2002. It's hard to believe we adopted Kobey, our first male cat, last December. We adore Kobey, but our older felines, Keogh and Minki share their disdain for him. They have made it clear... we didn't ask for a brother, don't want a brother, put him back where you found him! Sorry girls... he is here to stay.
The next issue of Float About is scheduled to post early to mid-February. Should be brutally cold in Ohio by then. That reminds me. Whether you are placing a pen order or trading with another collector, be sure to direct your pens to a location where they will not be left exposed to inclement weather. Float pens are temperature sensitive. A post office box is ideal, but a work address or any place the pens will be taken inside right away will do. I am already debating the appropriate pen design for each person on my gift list. It's a task I thoroughly enjoy... kind of like matchmaking. I await your orders. Together we can make it a floaty holiday for all. Be merry!
Back up and read Issue #36 from October 4, 2002
Go forward to read Issue #38 from February 20, 2003
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374