FLOAT ABOUT #38... © Copyright Thurs/Feb 20, 2003
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

Raise your hand... if you were one of the lucky collectors that received the 2002 Eskesen holiday card and pen? Isn't it fabulous!? It's possible your envelope arrived with a broken or missing pen? That is why I bought extras. Now everyone can own this perfect pair. Find the Eskesen 2002 combo under New Arrivals .



The 2002 card and pen compliment one another to create a clever and humorous design. On the card, a mouse is pulling a sled with an elf on board. Pens serve as the runners on the sled. The artwork in the float pen reflects the thoughts of the mouse. In the pen, the mouse catches a nap while the elf pulls the sled. The pen slips into the holes on the card. The message inside the card is Season's Greetings in five languages. The caption panel, on the back of the pen, includes Merry Christmas in several languages.

It isn't unusual for corporations to distribute promotional products, especially at holiday time. Of all the promo pens available, Eskesen ad pens are extraordinary. My experience has been that the design work is not repeated so these are pens produced in short runs. Speaking in terms of collectible , these are extra special and so very Eskesen . If you missed the 2001 card and pen, I have nine of them in stock.

In December of 2001... the Red Cross charity project closed. It was so successful, Eskesen donated a box full of History of America pen sets to keep the ball rolling. A portion of each purchase was to be donated to the Salvation Army . The program, which began in January of 2002 has ended as of February 1st. I rounded the amount up to $400 and delivered a check to the SA last week. A letter of explanation was included, but from their letter of confirmation I can see they ignored the letter and used the information directly from my check. Anyway, the charitable donation was made on behalf of Float Pen Collectors United . The figure would have been higher, but because this item has been on my list for several years, most of my collectors already had this set in their personal collections. Thank you for the gift Eskesen. Thank you collectors for your purchases.

What creeps in as early as November... retreats as late as May, and adds to our longing for spring with each and every day? No, not winter, but it coincides with said season. It's the Dead Zone . January and February are as dead as it gets! 'Tis the dry season for float pen hunter-gatherers. Many tourist attractions, souvenir shops and pen haunts are closed. Even those that remain open have a depleted pen supply. It was extremely difficult to find anything new for this issue. I fully expect the situation to change by April. The ice will thaw and float pens will blossom.

While pen collectors suffer from withdrawal throughout this annual dry spell, things at the Eskesen factory are humming. Distributors submit reorders and new artwork for their clients throughout the winter months. Some are scheduled for release as early as Easter, while others will make their debut when the amusement parks reopen in May. Hang in there.

Winter Blues Sale... in effect now through Monday, March 3rd. Sorry I couldn't find more new designs for this issue. To make it up to you... a sale! New Arrivals and Float Aways are NOT included on the Main List . Any and all items on the Main List , priced at $2.35 or more, are now on sale. 60¢ will be deducted from the price of each qualifying pen when I provide your quote. That is a savings of $6 for every 10 pens you order. The Main List begins with the Advertise category and continues through Scripto Floaty Lighters . Don't hesitate. Many designs are in scant supply. Orders must be paid for by March 13th to take advantage of the sale price.

Snoopy and his Peanuts Pals... now appearing in a set of four Eskesen floaty pens. These pens are not on my list, but I will take you directly to the source. Note: all four pens are in the twist n click style with the slanted top. The price is $3.95/pen + S/H. Order them directly from the Mall of America in Minnesota via the web. Log on to (NOTE: Sorry link defunct, removed May 2015.) Click on the ‘search merchandise’ button and use the keyword ‘pen’. The photos on their website are distant and do not show the artwork. I have scanned them for you: Amusement Park, Baseball, Camp Snoopy, Flying Ace is pictured below. No internet? Call 800/276-0079. This series is also being offered for sale at Knott's Berry Farm in California. Store locations are stamped on the bottom barrel.

Media Sightings...
Linda McCormick emailed to ask... “Diana, are you a Will and Grace viewer? I wasn't until recently when the show went into reruns in the 6:30 time slot and I got hooked. Tonight on the new show (Dec 5th) there was reference to Will's favorite pen that he had gotten at the Gay Novelty Games (I believe that is what he said) of the high diver in his Speedo that comes off! It showed Will tilting the pen but no close-up". I saw it too! The pen was obviously a tip n strip , but the camera never gets close enough to reveal any details. In the scene, Will is distressed to discover his pen was broken during a wild and unauthorized party held at his apartment. Our recollection of the dialogue is sketchy, but he says something like "now the diver won't drop his Speedos anymore!” Watch for the rerun.

Latest word on How to Deal ... from the www.us.imdb.com website. The project is now categorized as in production . Target release has been postponed. Rumor has it the new release date is April 18. If the film goes as planned, floaty pens will play a role throughout the movie. Yet another thing to look forward to this spring. I will continue to keep you posted.

Quotes from Gwen Garabedian... were included in a short article that recently appeared in the LA Daily . The piece focuses on Floaty Industries , but features a few words from collectors. Gwen touches on the challenge of displaying float pens and admits she has over 1,000 pens in her collection. Go Gwen!

Pennsylvania collector Helen Kang... is an alumni of the esteemed Wellesley College of Massachusetts. Kellesley , a quarterly magazine, is published by the Alumnae Association and presents "interesting, thought-provoking material, even though it may be controversial". I found it to be all of that and more.

Helen presented me with a copy of the publication. The front cover and inside pages introduce "Object Lessons: Confessions of Wellesley Collectors". Author Jennifer E. Garrett shares interviews with alumnae that actively accumulate anything and in some cases everything! Jennifer chose to highlight collections of African books, holy cards, pincushions, refrigerator magnets, coquilla nuts, hedgehogs, Christmas trees, antique fans AND motion-bubble pens .

Ann Manubay bought her first motion-bubble pen on a high-school trip to Graceland . She has since added about 149 pens to her "floating Elvis". Ann admits, "I don't really know why I collect them. I think I was a collector before I knew I was." The full-color pen photo left, by Louise Roche-Micciula, appeared on the inside cover. A brief account of Ann Manubay's float pen story is on page 26 followed by Richard Howard's photo below.


Another alumni, Terry Horvitz Kovel and husband Ralph publish Kovel's Antiques & Collectibles: Price List annually and have many other books to their credit. Terry contributes a great deal to the article and offers some good advice. According to Terry, the first rule of collecting is this: "If you don't love it, don't buy it".

I am sorry to say Helen Kang was not featured in the magazine. While Helen has been collecting for a lifetime, she is a novice floaty pen collector. In fact, it was the Wellesley article that reminded Helen of a Niagara Falls tourboat pen she treasured as a child. Like many of us, she made a strong nostalgic connection. To date Helen has over 50 pens. Her other passions include Japanese characters: Hello Kitty, Chococat, Tare Panda, and Buru Buru . She has a soft spot in her heart for Strawberry Shortcake too. Helen is currently home sharing her days and collections with 7 month old son Ethan. I predict her firstborn and floaty collection will grow together at a hearty and healthy pace.

Collectors News...
Collectors are a creative lot.... They find imaginative ways to pass the winter hours. When pens are hard to find I suggest getting better acquainted with the pens you already have. It's a great time to catalog. Robert Mausner asked if there is a good software program for just that purpose. I honestly do not know! I have been using Dbase, a DOS program, since 1982. I know a lot of folks use Excel, Quatro and other spreadsheet programs. Are you using a program especially designed to catalog your collectibles? Is it something you could recommend to others?

As you know, collector Andy Balbus... recently launched a new business. It's called Sellers' Market . It's a brick and mortar establishment in Danbury, CT, but you can see what it's all about on Andy's website. His webpage has a retro 50's look and feel, but this is truly a 21st Century endeavor. Point your surfboard to (NOTE: Sorry, link defunct; Removed May 2015) to see his TV commercial. Yes, the leading man in the promo is our own Andy B. Check it out!

La Nea Conner found this oddity... while shopping at a Seattle Hallmark store. Before you get overly excited, it is not an Eskesen . The label reveals the origin to be China. La Nea said there are several designs in the American Girl series. While it is an obvious attempt to copy an Eskesen twist n click , there is a major flaw. There isn't any oil in any of the pens. They are dry. The photo image is positioned on a track, but it does not slide. La Nea and I can't decide if it's a mistake and Hallmark didn't realize the error. Or perhaps it was intentional? Either way, to qualify as a float pen , the pen must have something afloat. The Chinese really missed the boat. (The bottom scan has the truer color of the actual pen.) The clip matches the chocolate barrel.

Dutch collectors have once again... joined forces to create a new pen. Miranda Wittebol, from Holland, is coordinating the project. The pen is still in the design stage, but I have seen the first draft and it is a gorgeous winter scene. Miranda will have them for trade, and I hope to obtain some for Float About .

The Zorgaccent pen is the latest... release from Miranda. It's a conceal - reveal in the classic style. The Woonzorgcentrum Puntenburg (left) is where Miranda works!

Nancy Nerenberg, at Float Art... sent cats and dogs for this issue. Purrsnickety II features a tabby cat strolling through the store. A golden Labrador Retriever moves past many other canine breeds in the new Bow Wowzer store pen. Extremely limited inventory on both designs.


Our French floaty collectors... have been extremely busy. Mr Zanat has released a pen to celebrate float pen collecting in the third year of the Millennium. You will probably recognize several of the collectors featured in the artwork. My photo is hidden under the birthday cake. Thank you Mr Zanat for sending extra pens so that I may offer them to USA collectors. I wonder if the young boy on the back panel is a float pen collector and or family member? (Mr Zanat confirms the boy is a 13 year old floaty collector.)

Andre' Perrin exhibited his floaty collection ... at the 2002 collectors convention in Charleville-Mezieres. His impressive display is pictured right. Well done Andre'! Your efforts are a testament to your dedication. Before I forget, Andre' asked if I could obtain a New York fire brigade and a Harley Davidson float pen for him. Do you know of any such items? Any info would be appreciated.

While some are designing pens... others turn to arts and crafts to relieve their cabin fever. Cincinnati, Ohio collector, Michele Peragine, is turning wooden cigar boxes into decorator items and collectors boxes for the sheer fun of it. Now she is wondering what she is going to do with them all? I suggested eBay. Do you have a better idea?

Seattle collector, Sarah Watson... is recovering from hip surgery. Ouch! She will be wrestling with crutches for several more weeks, but admits while recovery is slow, it is going well. She tells me, "This is that silly flower holder that I converted for pen holding... it is a piece of Italian pottery (the style is copadimonte ; very fun kitsch stuff, I have discovered over the past year!)". You've got the right idea Sarah. Anything goes!

Phar-Mor was our favorite... source for everything from prescriptions to groceries, until our store closed it's doors on September 7, 2002. I convinced the store manager that I needed the 8' x 4' penguin sign that watched over the ice machine. Bill didn't even grumble as we loaded it into the van.

For a couple of weeks in January I spent my evening hours recreating the entrance way to make it penguin perfect . After all, the penguin had worked hard for many years and deserved a nice place to spend his retirement. Seattle collector, La Nea Conner, was inspired by my penguin project . She convinced her husband Rusty that they should tackle a major bathroom remodel. Sorry about that Rusty.

Keith Bartlett of the UK... chose to whip up a website in his spare time. The doors are open. Find his link and many others on the website page. Oh! Keith presented me with the coolest vintage pen. It's got a metal tip and note the shapely clip. The belly band is stamped 'MADE IN DENMARK', but the clip is blank. An oldie and a goodie. Thanks Keith!

Psychology of the Floaty Collector...
Collector Bob Mausner, aka Scotty, sent notice of an article in the Jan 15th issue of the New York Times . The subject, model railroading, touched on a common thread between all collectors. Scotty thought we might be able to relate to this quote from Jacob Newman, a 22 year old history buff from Elizabeth, New Jersey. Jacob offered a simple explanation for his obsession. “It's a miniature world that I have total control of.” Scotty, you were right. I am sure many of us can relate.

A tiny magical world is encapsulated in each and every float pen. When you pick up a float pen you've got the whole wide world in the palm of your hand. A slight tip one way or the other controls the action inside the pen. You become the director of your very own miniature stage. I imagine snowdome collectors experience the same kind of rush when they shake a peaceful village into a ball of white furry.

Control is often the driving force that motivates the collector. But the control factor becomes most apparent in the management of ones collection. After 7 years of working with float pen collectors I have noted many similarities between us. I have also observed two fundamental differences, both involve 'control'. There are two very distinctive types of float pen collectors. The first group, floaty fanatics , share an ambitious goal. They hope to own every float pen ever made. The souvenir pen collector follows a much stricter path. They only collect pens that they find in their travels.

There isn't anything black or white about procedure in either category. A gigantic gray area looms between both extremes. Members of both groups add qualifiers and clauses to their terms. For example, souvenir pen collectors are likely to allow pens from friends or family members into their collection. They do face some tough choices along the way. There are many categories of pens that are not usually found on-the-shelf. Pens that fall into the advertisement, humor, political and religious categories have mass appeal but are not routinely found at airports or tourist traps. What happens when this breed of collector travels off-season or wanders way beyond the beaten path? They may return home without ANY pens! Once in a while a souvenir pen collector will stray so far as to mailorder missed pens. However, there seems to be a degree of guilt associated with the purchase. Go figure!?

The happy-go-lucky floaty fanatic doesn't require a sentimental attachment, they simply want pens and the more pens the greater the sense of accomplishment. There are a very small group of completist that float to the top of this list that want EVERY floaty pen available. Even so, the most dedicated zealots tend to abide by some degree of restriction. Some might skip an entire category, like glitter pens. Others are only interested in pens in mint condition. While I consider myself to be a floaty fanatic , I collect Eskesen pens exclusively and given a choice I still prefer the opaque classics. However, if a new design is only available in the twist n click slanted top style... I welcome it into the fold. To each his or her own.

The control factor also comes into play in our chosen methods of cataloging, display and yes even storage. Are your pens safely tucked away under lock and key or displayed in a pencil cup on your desk at work? It would be interesting to hear what Freud might deduce from your response. There isn't any right or wrong way to gather, display or store any collectible. If you are having fun and you take pleasure in your collections... you are OK, I am OK, heck... we are all OK!

Pens Past, Present and Future...
I was unsure how the general population... would respond to Eskesen's new glow pens introduced in issue #37. As soon as E is satisfied with the product they will be readied for market. Yes, I will surely order them for Float About .

Elizabeth Blondefield... found the Disney set of 4, from issue #37, at the Best Western Park Place Inn Hotel directly across the street from Disneyland . If that is out of your reach, two collectors canceled their orders, so I still have two sets available.

While closet cleaning... I stumbled over a stash of plastic boxes that I used to fill with pen parts and sell to collectors as Toy Boxes . The box has an assortment of 22 classic style pen barrels, matching tips, metal clips, bands, and refills. Four of the frosted translucent barrels will be included in the new mix. Find the Toy Box under the Related Products category.

I have decided to try... a new format for Float About . As many of you know, I try to publish bi-monthly. May through November FA deadlines frequently conflict with our art/craft show schedule. So often by the time I report news it seems stale and outdated. Instead of trying to maintain a publishing schedule, I am going to post data as it arrives, or at least on a more timely basis. A page on my website would be dedicated to floaty news. You can drop by any old time for the latest word. So what about new pen designs? Still debating that issue. What if every time I accumulate a dozen or so new designs I post an updated new arrivals list and send everyone an email notification? This is something I could do in my spare time instead of dropping everything for two weeks to produce a six page newsletter. Anxious to hear what you think about the idea. I am also counting on your understanding and encouragement.

Kidney displays will return... to the list as soon as Ohio thaws. Our workshop is attached to the house, but not heated. When the weather breaks I intend to make 20 kidney shaped displays. If your name is on the reserve list you will be notified when they are ready to ship.

Excursion to OAXACA Mexico!? I still can't believe we are doing this. Bill has been casually collecting animal woodcarvings from the Oaxaca region for nearly 15 years. He recently kicked his collecting into high gear and I jokingly said, “Why don't we just go to Oaxaca?”. If we are lucky, our close friends, Steve and Roswitha will join us. Our journey will begin soon after Easter. The businesses and production schedule keep all us from taking a long vacation. Our house sitters agree, 7-8 days will be long enough. I do not expect to find any float pens, but that doesn't mean I won't try.

When the Buzzards return to Hinckley... on March 15 we will know spring is officially here.
Until we meet again be warm, safe and stay afloat!
Diana


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Back up and read Issue #37 from Dec 2, 2002
Continue on to Issue #39

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FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
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Copyright © February 2003 Float About... Diana Andra