Float About #43... © Copyright Thurs/Jan 29, 2004
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

For those of you that have not been reading Float Along... this issue could be rather shocking. I assure you, all is well, but a lot has happened since November. I am not going to tease you. Let's pop the head back on the dispenser and get right to the candy.

It was Leslie Sena... that turned me on to the source for the Pez pens. When the pens first appeared on eBay collectors asked if I would be carrying the set. Before I had a chance to do any research Leslie came to my aid! Her assistance was very much appreciated. I ordered plenty. Purchases of multiple sets are allowed and welcomed.

Each pen, in the set of four, has it's own cellophane wrapper and a colorful display card behind it. I am offering the set for $16 plus s/h. The artwork and the caption panels are top-notch. This set is marked Series #1, so it stands to reason if the first set is a success, there could be a Series #2. Without a doubt, this set would be a sweet addition to any floaty pen or Pez collection. Maybe even a no-calorie, no fat, Valentine's Day present.

If the Pez folks are listening... I wouldn't want to see Felix the Cat's head on a stick, but why hasn't the head of my favorite frisky feline ever been mounted on a Pez dispenser? He's a natural. Felix collectors everywhere are bewildered.

The Homeland Security pen... is temporarily out of stock. It will not return to my list before the end of February. If you still need this Terrorist Advisory pen, please reserve now.

Remember, links that take you away from my site are ( bracketed ) in pink.

The Latest from the Eskesen Factory...
January 7th a newspaper article... circulated from collector to collector via email. The article announced that Eskesen had filed for bankruptcy in December. Word raced through the floaty community like a fire storm. However, within just a few hours, the fire was extinguished.

As of January 1, 2004 Eskesen has new owners. I am pleased to tell you that Svend Erik Kriby, 43 years old and Ole Schneider, 40 years old have rescued the company. Both men come from business backgrounds and between them they are well versed in sales, marketing and production. They will play an active role in management and pen production. Fresh capital has been injected into the company and the Eskesen name lives on. The plant will continue to produce and develop the one and only real Danish float pen at the Store Merløse location. Whew! That was a close call.

So Eskesen is in the process of a major reorganization. This is not an uncommon story for small businesses. Things like this happen all the time and like medicine, it can be a bitter pill, but it is often the best remedy. After speaking with my distributors and a few folks at the factory, I have total confidence in the ability of the new team to turn the company around. The staff is energized and exhilarated about upcoming changes. Jan 14th I received a phone call from Kim Rasmussen, my factory contact. He had more good news. E will soon rebuild their website. In fact, it could be as early as mid-February when a Collectors Corner becomes a feature on their site. In time it will be expanded to include more and more exciting floaty extras. New management is curious about us and they realize how important our support is to the company. It is truly a brand new day for Eskesen and their faithful followers.

Feel free to visit their website ( www.Eskesen.com ) to check for updates, but please refrain from contacting the factory. As you might imagine, they are extremely busy right now. We must be patient and allow them time to regroup. Rejoice in the good news... Eskesen is alive and well.

Media Sightings...
Sandy at Floaty Industries... emailed to say, “The TV show Becker contacted me some time ago and asked for a variety of pens.” Thanks for the heads-up Sandy. I started my VCR a little late, but Beverly Broadstone helped fill in the blanks. Subway Story aired the 21st of January on CBS. Dr John Becker attended a medical conference primarily to replace his missing tip n strip nurse pen. He chooses a frosty green clicker style, but we never get a good look at the artwork. With pen in hand he boards a subway train. An elderly lady borrows the pen to put directions to paper. She accidentally drops the pen to the floor. Passengers step on the floaty leaving it in pieces. If you are a Becker fan, this is an extra good one.

It's not an Eskesen... but it is a floaty pen sighting. Alicia Delahunty found a “sort of twist and click with a corkscrew/pigtail clip and a red body.” The pen is part of the Olivia Journal set, by Andrews McMeel Publishing. The journal features Olivia, the dancing pig and her friends, created by Ian Falconer. The set lists for about $15. It is currently available on Amazon for $10.47. If the set is not at your local bookstore, order online... Amazon.com. Alicia, thank you for the pointer. Note: my experience has been that float pens with corkscrew clips are manufactured in Hong Kong.

Collectors News & Updates...
Several collectors responded... to my request for assistance regarding my browser. I thank all of those that took the time to share your knowledge. I received some very sound advice. My Netscape has since been upgraded from 4.7 to 7.1.This issue was formated with the new version. Sorry if it looks a bit anemic. I have a lot to learn. If you find the Netscape format to be annoying, please let me know. I suspect most of you are using Internet Explorer?

Christian Glick, the Los Angeles collector... mentioned in the last issue, has made his long and coveted journey to the Eskesen factory. He promised to provide an account of his trip and he has done just that. I am going to stand down and let Christian tell you all about it.

“Tuesday, Nov 18 at 10am Marjan met me in the reception area. I feel I must mention that she's one of the most gracious persons I met while I was in Denmark. After a bit of introductory chit chat, she introduced me to my tour guide, her wonderfully vivacious co-worker, Kamilla.”

“We started with a quick overview of the administrative offices, then the real tour began in the Art Department. Art for the background, caption panel, floater and when needed the foreground panel, are individual drawings presented on one sheet of paper. In the past, these were all hand-drawn. Since the late 90's everything is generated on MACs with Photoshop. The artwork is often created completely in-house by resident artists. Otherwise it is received in hardcopy or electronically. Revisions bounce back and forth between client and Eskesen until the artwork is perfected. One of the artists was working on a new version of the Mini-Cooper pen for Ideal Motion Promotion while I was there. (There are actually two new Mini-Cooper pens in production. One will have a DC backdrop, the other... San Francisco.)”

“Now on to the factory floor. To the eye of a visiting American, there was a noticeable lack of safety equipment - no goggles, gloves, protective clothing, nothing! The employees are mostly in jeans and Eskesen logo tee-shirts (really cool... wish I could have gotten one of those!). Outside of customary safety precautions, the shop seems very relaxed. Makes one wonder how over-legislated we are in the USA due to our somewhat litigious nature. The business of creating float pens is so unique Kamilla said that Eskesen has to make most of their production equipment. They have a large maintenance shop to repair and fine-tune their custom machinery.”

“We went on to see the film splitting process. Images are printed on film. When the film reaches the splitter it is cut into three individual rolls. The rolls are fed into a machine that inserts the film into the pens. Sometimes this is done by hand. There is a multi-stepped process to printing the film too. It reminded me of silk screening. Next we briefly explored the production of Eskesen's acrylic key chains and magnets. Finally, we walked past a ‘private’ room where the pens are sealed. E's success has been attributed to their perfection of the sealing process. It continues to be a well guarded secret.”

“We approached the final staging area. There is a large warehouse filled with boxes of pen parts - everything required to make a floaty pen.”

“Local residents come in, grab the parts, take them home, and bring them back assembled. Marjan later told me hiring the community to do the piecework helps E stay competitive. Kamilla demonstrated how the clips go into the twist n click pens by using a vise-like machine. Then she allowed me to assemble my own custom made float pen. I was flying high! This act of kindness defined the entire tone of my visit.”

“Now we come to the zenith (literally and figuratively) of the visit... The Attic! Kamilla took me upstairs to the room where all of the old artwork is stored. I thought I was in heaven! File cabinets filled with artwork that has appeared in pens throughout E's history. It was an almost ecstatic experience to see and handle the original art that went into pens I have in my collection. Truly incredible!”

“We retreated back to the sales offices for coffee and Vienna bread. I was presented with some pens. Their kindness and generosity was almost overwhelming. I floated out of the building with a major feeling of euphoria. It was an amazing visit.” Thank you for sharing your Eskesen adventure Christian.

Christian has over 600 float pens in his personal collection. He has an innovative way to display them too. He chose an expandable clothes drying rack from Ikea.

It's a robust version of the retractable lines sometimes found in hotel rooms. The lines are woven nylon cord, about the thickness of twine. Instead of hanging the retraction coil and pull bar on opposite walls, Christian mounted them parallel to one other on one wall. Pen length and line spacing allow him to utilize 3 of the 6 lines. He is currently stretched to 84 inches, but the unit will expand to 123 inches. Christian estimates this very cost effective display ($20) will accommodate nearly 1000 pens.

I am still kicking myself for missing Eskesen's 50th Anniversary celebration in 1996. Karen Swanson and Judy Friedman intend to make the trip this year. Patricia White was all ready to pack her bags for the April Open House this spring. Then I mentioned that Miranda and I have been talking about attending the 2006 celebration, when E will turn 60. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

Iowa collector Linda McCormick retired... as planned in November. I never doubted she would find interesting ways to fill her days. I was right. The night of Jan 19th I received an email from Linda. She was pretty excited. “I am sooooooooo happy. I worked our caucus site tonight for Senator Kerry and we had expected about 17 firm backers and came up with 50 Kerry supporters out of the 98 caucus goers in our precinct. Over the past couple of weeks I worked about four hours each day in the Kerry office and have never met so many wonderful people. He had supporters from Washington DC that took vacation time to come out and campaign for him. They certainly dismissed any ideas of what I had thought to be a Washington bureaucrat. They worked right beside us addressing envelopes, making phone calls, and going door to door. Today I was working in Kerry's office and Senator Ted Kennedy came in to thank us. One of the Washington supporters insisted that I have my picture taken with the Senator. I'm still smiling!” Congratulations to both Linda and Senator Kerry!

Please welcome Aran Johnson... to the fold. Aran just discovered Float About and asked if I would add a link to his site on my websites page. I am happy to do so. Aran and his wife live in the San Francisco Bay area. I think you will enjoy their collections as much as I do.

Thanks to many of her fellow collectors... Miranda Wittebol's float pen collection reached 8,000 just days before the New Year. Way to go Miranda! So when is enough really enough? Miranda said sometime ago that reaching 10,000 pens was her goal. Of course in those days a collection of that magnitude would be nearly impossible to achieve. She is well on her way. Knowing Miranda, she will not only succeed, but eventually exceed her target.

Musician and collector Doug Yeo's... third float pen design was released on December 4th. This custom pen was made to promote Doug's latest CD, Le Monde Du Serpent. If you fancy the classical, the album is a real treat. The pen reflects the beauty of the music and includes graphics from the cover art.

Doug Yeo

On Doug's website, he explains the creative process behind the design.

He also includes the artwork as presented by Eskesen for his final approval. You can purchase this exceptional pen directly from Douglas for just $3.25 + $1 s/h. Spend $40 or more from Doug's site and get a FREE pen. I also have a handful of them available under New Arrivals in this issue. As usual... great job Douglas. ( http://www.yeodoug.com )

Nancy Nerenberg of Float Art... had some inside info regarding the float pen sighting in the Jewel video. “The Jewel folks got their float pens for their shoot from me! I rushed them down via Fed-Ex.” As for the Marino family's new baby Amelia... “In August of 1998 I got the order from the Marinos to make their imprinted wedding pens!” Just a little bit of floaty pen history.

Bill and I started a major... kitchen/dining room/hallway remodel late in October. Josh and I worked on the floor through the Thanksgiving weekend. It was December 5th before the last tile was in position. Things have come to a standstill since then, but plenty of work remains to be done. I intended to tackle the living room by Christmas. What was I thinking?! Bill cringes every time he catches me watching yet another home improvement show. I am not the only one with a stalled project. Debbie Hoesly is still waiting for the wallpaper she ordered two months ago. What have you been doing?

New Floaty Pens...
The Hunt for French floaty pens... has ended. I asked E to put me in touch with the folks at D&M to see if I could purchase the exclusive and elusive French pens mentioned in FA #42. D&M responded, and in good time, but I overlooked their email. I have since decided that despite a sweet offer, I can't afford to make a major pen investment right now. Many collectors have already tracked the pens down and either purchased them via mailorder or traded with fellow collectors. I do know Andy Balbus has or at least had some for sale. Contact abalbus@earthlink.net

Carmen is now available... Order here ( www.operagraphics.com ) While you are at OperaGraphics, see the entire collection of opera floaty pens.

It has been a long time since I last heard from ... collector Catarina Barcelona. Catarina has been distracted, but in the very best way. Meet Enzo Giovanni Barcelona . He was born February 24, 2003. Catarina sent her favorite picture of her holding Enzo when he was just 6 days old and a more recent shot. What a smile! Catarina had pen news to share as well. Her mother had found a 42nd Street ‘The Musical’ pen while vacationing in San Francisco. The pen has four women floating across the stage.

Gina Carlson uncovered a source for the 42nd Street pen at... (NOTE: Sorry, link defunct; Removed May 2015.) The pens are expensive, $8 each. She ordered two and with shipping paid a whopping $20.95. Thanks for the lead Gina. Oh, while we are here... like many collectors, Gina is looking for pens from Mississippi and Delaware to complete her collection of state pens. Can you help? She does have duplicates for trade.

Christina Pleva recently attended a conference ... in New Orleans and found 12 Eskesen float pens. "I bought an extra pen from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Over the past couple of years, I have purchased duplicates that I thought might be more difficult to find, but I have yet to get into the trading scene." She is always on the lookout for pens that feature penguins or have a scuba diving theme.

It was a challenge to find nine new designs... for this issue. I have enough Pez pen sets to go around, but the other designs are in short supply. Agents of Change, Mindview, Model A's, Rudolph & Sletten are all Float Art designs. The Sweetheart pen is an oldie but goody from Floaty Ind that has never appeared on my list before.

Even though sports are of little concern at our house... everyone knows about the football crazed Wisconsin Cheeseheads.

This pen features a cheesehead kite afloat over the football field. All in all, a short, but well rounded list. Find them all under New Arrivals.

The Float Away... category has changed. Previously pens that appeared on this page were available in quantities of 1-3 pens per design. Now if a pen is on the Float Away page... it is the LAST one of it's kind in inventory. These items will not be restocked.

Retrobank Tip n Strip Coffee Pen Retrobank of Japan...
Mitsuhiro Nagamura, of Japan... started collecting float pens when he was just 5 years old. He fondly remembers a time when he enjoyed collecting, hiking and backpacking, but these days he is rather busy making float pens. Mitsuhiro represents Retrobank, Eskesen's distributor in Japan. Like many distributors, the company concentrates on custom pen orders for clients. Whether the client provides the finished artwork, or Retrobank pulls it together, the final product belongs to the client. This means Retrobank doesn't have inventory to sell.

I have pictured some of my favorite designs from their collection. In the past eight years the company produced 300+ designs. It's possible you have seen a few of their pens on trade lists posted by collectors. Once in awhile you can find a Retrobank design offered on eBay. Most of the pens are geared for corporate clients, but others, like AstroBoy are distributed via retail.

The last flight of the Concord took place in October of 2003. Retrobank was commissioned to create a limited edition Concord float pen for the big farewell party. If you have one of these consider yourself lucky. Only 3000 pens were made.

Ketchup & Mustard pens

Like pen designers and distributors in America, this Japanese firm tackles everything from promo, humor, events, parties, celebrity and novelties. The three ad pens pictured are excellent examples of the conceal/reveal image at it's best. Condiments appear to flow over a sandwich or java pours into a cup. A tip of the pen magically returns the liquid to it's container. This same mechanism facilitates the dressing and undressing of the models in the tip n strip pens.

Gundam Floaty

Retrobank created a series of 8 or more pens that depict the characters of a sci-fi saga called Gundam.

Safe Sex Floaty
There are several pens that fall into the pop culture category. Personally, the most humorous would be the Safe Sex pen. If I dare to describe it, your spam filter will block this newsletter. The picture will have to tell the story. What a hoot! The pen is picture perfect. My scan was a little askew.

Mitsuhiro contacted Miranda and I in the fall of 2003. He said he would be sending us both samples of Retrobank pens. By the time the holidays came and went, we forgot all about it... and figured he did too. Then on a typically cold and dreary January day, my package arrived. Thank you, Mitsuhiro for your most precious gift. Within a few days, Miranda had a package too. We were both stunned by his generosity. Believe me, Miranda and I realize just how spoiled we are.

I have enjoyed scanning and posting my favorite samples, but this is just a small taste of what Retrobank has to offer. For a bigger bite, you must visit the ( Retrobank.co.jp ) website. Of course, ( Alta Vista's Babel Fish )will provide a free translation of the page, but it is a really rough conversion. Do you know a better way to view this page?

I did notice there is a Shop category under construction on the Retrobank. Perhaps the company intends to offer pens for sale in the future?! That would be grand. On behalf of Miranda and myself... Thanks again Mitsuhiro. Your pens are simply delightful.

Winding Down...
On a musical note... Beverly Broadstone is still beaming. Her teenage son, Robbie, made his rock 'n' roll debut at a coffee house in Los Angeles on Jan 19th. The concert was a success and if the band sells 50 tickets, they will soon play at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood. Beverly vows that if and when the band becomes famous, she will have float pens made.

The Annual Main List Sale will begin ... NOW. Orders received by midnight (EST) on January 31st, will qualify for the sale. 75¢ will be deducted from the price of every item currently on the Main List. The Main List consists of all pen categories from Advertise - USA Locations and includes Scripto Lighters. The only categories excluded from the sale are New Arrivals, Float Aways and Related Products. Prepare your wish lists and I will get back to you with a quote ASAP. Now in the next breath, I must ask for your patience. I have agreed to do a local Toy Show with a close friend on Sunday, Feb 1st. I will need this Saturday to prepare. Please do not worry if you do not receive an immediate response to your request. As usual, incoming mail will be answered on a first come - first served basis, as quickly as possible.

Some of you have noticed my eBay listings... It's mostly inventory that appears or has appeared on my weblist. If you are interested in a pen or collection I have on eBay, check with me before you bid. Whenever possible, the same deal I offer on eBay is available to my Float About customers directly from my website. If you receive an email notice when I post an issue of the newsletter, you are officially a Float About customer.

February 5th I am scheduled ... for gall bladder surgery. This is something I should have done decades ago. I am uncertain how quickly I will bounce back. While I do not anticipate any trouble, I think I may need a few days to recoup. Otherwise Bill and I are sticking close to home until mid-March when we will sneak away for a week to attend a family wedding.

With any luck, the next issue... of the newsletter should post around the end of March. Our first craft event of the year will be in the Toledo, Ohio area on March 27. That might cause a slight delay. I am sorry. I did not intend for this issue to go on forever. At the same time, I didn't see any point in waiting two more months to deliver the news. Issue #44 will be shorter... I promise! Until then, I wish you a quick and mild winter.
Your humble servant... Diana

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Back up and read Issue #42 from Nov 14, 2003
Go forward to read Issue #44 from Jan 29, 2004

Check Float Along for continual updates in between newsletters.

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FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11am - midnight EST)
Copyright © January 2004 Float About... Diana Andra