Float About #45...
© Copyright Thurs/August 12, 2004
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors
Issue #45 is not fashionably late ... it's dreadfully late. I won't get into the deep dark details, but our summer craft show schedule is partly to blame. The lightning strike that zapped my computer on May 20th is the primary culprit. My new computer system is up and running. Bill and I are in between shows. I didn't want to let this tiny window of opportunity pass me by. It's a good time to tackle issue #45, so let's get on with it! It's the longest issue ever. Sorry about that.
News from the Factory...
Owners, Ole and Svend... tug Eskesen into the 21st Century and secure it's future for generations to come.
The boys have the support of their employees and distributors. Things are going very well, but understand that keeping things on track is a major challenge. In addition to the daily operations at the plant, both owners travel great distances to visit with distributors all over the world. The job is on-going and requires their undivided attention. This is why Eskesen is currently discouraging visits to the factory. They have set aside an Open House to be held May 20, 2005. The entire day will be devoted to floaty collectors and fans. Staff members look forward to the celebration and the chance to meet with collectors. It will be an event worthy of the most serious Eskesen pen collector. Would that be you?! If you can go... do so!
While contact with collectors may be limited right now, we have not been forgotten. The new collectors corner on E's website is evidence that the new owners have a high regard for floaty fans. The subscription packages I spoke of in the last issue, were introduced early in May. You can sign up for one of four different packages. Eskesen is now able to accept credit card payments through PayPal. I understand a lot of collectors have already chosen a package. The Silver Plan seems to be the most popular option to date.
Collectors that signed on early for a subscription package also received a complimentary C-top pen (picture next page) that features the new owners. Note, my scan is compressed. In reality, the men actually exchange visibility. When one owner is behind the 'E' sign, the other is visible. You can own one too!
Find it on the new arrivals list. This particular pen is extraordinary. It's the first promo pen generated by the new guys at ‘E’ and it's the debut of the C-top pen at Float About. The supply is limited, so one per collector please.
Go directly to Eskesen.com for details regarding the Open House, subscription packages and collectors corner. While you are there, play with the build-a-pen feature and sign up for their e-newsletter.
Follow-Up to Issue #44...
Your 2¢ worth... regarding Eskesen pen styles is varied. In issue #44 I asked “How do you feel about the new C-top?” Until now, few people in the States have had the opportunity to see or own the new style. British collector, Susan Eisen, was the first to respond. “I have a C-Top in my hand - it is really lovely - a new classic in the making!”
Ginny Hamme had some good points... “I prefer the classic, of course, but I like the original twist and click style almost as much, especially with the chrome clip. It has a real tasteful look and a larger design window. I don't like the styles with plastic tops at all. First of all, the clips can't be used as they are too soft. I like to change barrel colors to fit the design colors and that isn't possible with the plastic tops.” The majority of collectors agree with Ginny's assessment.
Float pens are adrift in a sea of thousands of writing instruments. New styles are developed to get the attention of the buying public. As collectors see an increase in new styles, they often express concern that E will drop the classic style pen. I do not foresee that happening. I am fairly certain the traditional style remains high on the popularity chart among vendors and collectors alike. No need to worry.
So, you bought hanging file folders to hold your pens, but now you can't find those mini binder clips to keep your pens in place? I should have mentioned that I use Acco #72010 brand clips. Because they take up less space, I prefer the tiny ¼ inch size. Find them at your local Office Supply store. If you can't find them, Staples has a slightly larger version. If all else fails, there is always the Internet.
The July-August issue of Coastal Living Magazine... is now available at your local newsstand. The article, A Barrel of Fun, by Charly Porter Kusta, appears on page 68. It's a short and sweet intro to float pens.
It has generated a lot of interest from people that have never encountered a float pen. For me, working with these newbies has been a blast. They are so naive and equally enthusiastic.
There was one misstatement. I assure you that ALL of the pens designed by Nancy Nerenberg at Float Art are manufactured by Eskesen. Outside of that, the article is right on target.
There is another magazine article in the works, scheduled for release in December. I will let you know when it is close to release date.
The May 13th Edition of the New York Times... has an article about young collectors entitled Curators From the Cradle: Marbles, Bugs and Warhols. Gwen Garabedian forwarded the link. Author, Ralph Gardner Jr. interviewed children that are just as intense about their collections as you or I. Ralph credits eBay and TV programs, such as the Antiques Roadshow, for sparking an interest in collecting for young people. The kids chosen for the article collect everything from fine paintings to marbles and bugs. Of course there was a float pen collector among them. Dominique Grelshamer is our kind of girl.
“Almost more elusive these days than bugs are the floaty pens that Dominique Grelshamer collects. Inspired by the guitars and 60's memorabilia that her father, Ronald, collects, Dominique, 15, decided to claim the souvenir pens as her own. The challenge is that she seeks pens depicting places like the fog rolling in over San Francisco or a cable car ascending a Swiss mountain rather than the typical hula girl who loses her skirt. “Some places are very difficult to find,” she said.
You can read the entire three-page article here New York Times - Collectors Article You will be required to sign-in for access, but it's free once you fill in the form. The float pen collector is mentioned on page two.
Every September, 50-60 Norwegian pen collectors... gather for a meeting. This year a handful of members pooled their resources and talents to create a custom float pen. One of the participants, Ms Tone Helen Hanken, arranged a trade with me so that I could include the pen on my list.
You won't find this one on the shelf or at a souvenir stand, but it is on the New Arrivals list.
For the upcoming 2004 Norway summit, Eskesen has donated a Platinum Subscription Package to be raffled. I will have to check with Helen to see how they are going to handle the drawing. It is information I will need come November. Eskesen has offered the same package to me to be raffled off among the Float About collectors. Yippeeeee!!! Even though I will be exempt from the drawing, I am very excited for you. Details will follow in the next issue.
While the Norwegians plan to meet... two power collectors have already met. With an estimated 10,000 floaty pens in his collection, Eskesen and the rest of the floaty world, considers Mr Zanat to be the King of Collectors. By all accounts that would make Dutch collector, Miranda Wittebol, with 8,391 pens ... the Queen.
June 21st Miranda received a phone call from Mr Zanat. He was in Holland at a hotel in her hometown. Miranda admits she doesn't speak any French, but she managed to invite Zanat and his son to her home. The language barrier all but disappeared as they poured through Miranda's collection.
Miranda tells me Mr Zanat is very kind and she was honored to finally meet him. From the photo, compliments of Mr Zanat, I would say the feeling was mutual. If you get a chance to meet with another collector, go for it. I find it is always a rewarding experience. I know Ms Wittebol and Mr Zanat would agree.
Two Collectors from the Netherlands... have been added to the Traders List. You will find email addresses for Ber te Mebel and Marinella Bak there.
Richard Wickberg mentioned Debbie Carriere... in a casual e-conversation. He thought her new website was exceptionally nice. He was right. Debbie lives in Canada and you will find many pens from her country represented in her collection. You will find Debbie's link and many others on my Website page.
Rose Glennon asks... Do you know where I can get the Chicago Manual of Style floaty pen with “B(u)y the book?” If you have one for trade or sale, please contact me. I will forward your response.
Judith Friedman seeks... a pen from New Hampshire, Mississippi and North Dakota. She doesn't have a lot to trade, but she will be traveling abroad this month and hopes to find foreign designs to barter.
Pens Out and About...
California collector Craig Wilson and wife Terri... flew to St Louis a week before Easter. The couple uncovered a few designs on their journey. The most outstanding discovery was this handsome pen.
The 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark Expedition exhibit runs now through September 6th. It is open to the public at the Missouri History Museum in St Louis. The exhibit will continue on to Philadelphia, Denver, Portland and finally Washington D.C. It's entirely possible each exhibit will have it's own pen design.
In fact, Richard Wickberg visited Astoria, OR and surrounding area. He found a different Lewis and Clark design at the Astoria Column. He has one available for trade. Richard is looking for pens from National Parks or monuments to add to his collection.
Visit the L&C website www.lewisandclarkexhibit.org/ for more exhibition info. If you are curious about Craig Wilson's Trade List you there. He no longer has L&C pens, but there are plenty of other fine designs.
Pigs on Parade floaty pens... are available from pikeplacemarket.org via mail order. (NOTE: Pens long gone! Removed May 2015.) Thank you Gwen Garabedian for providing this link. It will take you directly to the order page. The photo doesn't show a lot of detail, but I think the artwork is OK. The theme is what really justifies the purchase. The pens are souvenirs from Seattle's city-wide art exhibition that featured painted pigs. Three pigs float over a Seattle backdrop. The twist n click pens are on sale for $2.50 each, plus tax and s/h. Combine orders with friends to save shipping.
Spokane collector, Richard Wickberg, has this to add. “For collectors visiting Seattle, The Pioneer Square area and the Seattle Waterfront (from pier 54 - 70) are the best places to find pens. Both areas are accessible from the Waterfront Trolley. The Seattle Center is a distant third.” Enjoy the hunt.
Float Along... is where I post timely announcements and information in between newsletters. If you read Float Along, or you watch pen postings on eBay, you already know that BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen have float pens on the market. My contact for the set of three BMW Mini-Cooper pens is not responding to his emails. For now I am going to refrain from posting his information. If I reestablish contact, I will follow-up in Float Along.
Now for the real scorcher. Volkswagen has a Beetle pen available on-line. I am so offended by the price, I debated whether or not I should share this contact with you. VW is asking $15 for each pen plus a minimum of $6.37 for shipping. Just because there might be a VW nut among us, this is the link to obtain the pen drivegear.vw.com (NOTE: link defunct; Removed May 2015; Pens no longer available.) Click on 'Gear' to bring up a catalog of accessories.
Special request... please report your findings!
No Distributors - No Pens...
While Eskesen manufactures... our fabulous floaty pens, it's distributors that get the pens moving. The promotion industry is big business. After all, businesses large and small need products to advertise their services and wares. Whether it's hats, mugs, shot glasses, float pens or keychains... these items are all considered promotional products.
I have mentioned Topline Products and Ideal Motion Promotion, but there are many other distributors. It's time to introduce PerfectMatch, a fairly new kid-on-the-block. Bo, from PerfectMatch initiated contact with me via email back in May. Apparently, the goal at PM is to create the Perfect float pen design to Match the promotional needs of their client. They do get the job done.
Unfortunately for collectors, pens designed at PM belong to the client. Like most floaty distributors, they do not engage in retail pen sales. However, from time to time a distributor will make a pen to promote their own biz.
The PerfectMatch pen (pictured) is a beautiful example! The design is incredibly plush and rich with color. Each pen comes with a folded full-color sales brochure (cover of brochure pictured left). The pen and brochure are neatly packaged together in a fitted ziplock.
According to Bo... “ These pens are actually pretty rare, we made up about 2000 of them and sent 1500 to our clients around Valentines day. Next year it will be something different. So you are not likely to see many more of these pens in the future. (smile) The rest of the batch is being distributed at trade shows”.
Thank you Bo for allowing me to buy packages for my pen buds! (NOTE: May 2015; site no longer includes float pens.) Collectors, you can browse PerfectMatch.us to see examples of their work.
Retrobank is the... float pen distributor in Japan. They have yet to open their retail webstore, but you can visit Retrobank.co.jp any time. Mitsuhiro sends samples of custom pens my way. Lucky me! Cruelty is not my intention. This photo gallery provides a rare glimpse into designs that are not destined for the collectors market. I will NOT be carrying these pens. Mr Nagamura's assistant, Izumi, provided the captions. Thank you both.
A promo pen for a Japanese stationery company
Kyoto Gion (Maiko place) restaurant Karoku
Japanese Advertisement Company
Character of Japanese Whiskey Manufacturer, 'Suntory'
Concert tour pen for famous Japanese singer
Japanese television program called 'Zoom-In'
Topline Products is moving.... to a new location. Owner, Lupita Vargas, has been going through a lot of old sample pens. She presented me with a box full that Topline created as well as Eskesen samples. A giant ‘Thank you’ to Lupita. It's an amazing collection. The next Gallery, in issue #46, will include some of my favorites from the Topline treasure box.
Odds & Ends...
Trade Etiquette... is important in maintaining good trade relations. Trades are always arranged in advance. Once the deal is sealed, no changes are to be made without the express agreement of both parties. For whatever reason, if a trade pen must be substituted, it is imperative the recipient approves the exchange, before the pens are shipped. The best trades are the ones that stick to the original agreement.
Pen pricing is tricky... especially for newcomers. The magazine article brought a number of newbies to my door. The first question is often ”What are these pens worth?“ Veteran collectors have heard this all before. Just because a pen sells for $40 on eBay today, does not mean it's worth $40 today, tomorrow or even a decade from now. I know because more than once a design has sold on eBay for big bucks one day. Within days the same pen, offered by another buyer, sells for less than a few bucks. A buyer once bid $70 for a pen I had posted on ebay. My listing clearly stated the pen was ‘not rare’, ‘currently in production’ and ‘retail value $3-$3.50’.
So how does this happen? Inexperienced and even experienced buyers can get caught up in the heat of the auction. There are also bidders that seem to have unlimited money to burn. Sometimes a buyer makes a personal or nostalgic connection with a pen. These buyers can drive the price of a pen sky high. All reasons why the highest-price-paid does not reflect the real worth of a pen.
Float pens are delightfully affordable. Designs that are currently in production usually sell for $2.50-$6, just about everywhere. Pens that are no longer in production are another matter. To determine a fair price for an older pen, a lot of factors come into play. Is it an Eskesen? Condition is important too. No bubbles please. Big bubbles indicate a leak. I am not always discouraged by faded artwork. That sepia-look can be charming. However, if portions of the artwork have actually disappeared... I walk away. Does the floater move? Is the barrel bowed? Is the window scratched? Does the pen have it's original parts?
How old is it? If it has a bullet shaped cap and fancy clip I can be fairly certain it's an oldie. I have seen old pen parts on new pens and vise versa. I was able to determine the pencils above were made by 'E' in the late 50's. Even though the oil had yellowed, the pencils and floaters were in great condition. They met most of my criteria. The fact that Esso was one of Eskesen's first clients added to the appeal. I bought 12 of them from a European seller for $25 each plus shipping. I have yet to sell one for more than I invested.
Sometimes even if a pen isn't dated, the topic will give it away. Pens for a concert tour, political event or store opening, can often be dated with a little bit of research. Here is a clue. If the pocket clip is flat and marked ‘E MADE IN DENMARK’ the pen was likely manufactured since 1989.
The subject of the pen is a major issue. We are all likely to pay more for a pen with a theme near and dear to our hearts. Some categories are harder to find than others. An old generic animal pen is not as desirable to me as a vintage pen from say Cedar Point, an Ohio amusement park. Over the years I have found some amazing vintage pens at flea markets, antique malls, even garage sales for under $3. What I can afford to spend is restricted by my income. A pen has to be extraordinary and in excellent condition for me to fork over $25. I've yet to find a pen that was worth more than that to me. Now, if I could find the Beatles pen from the 1960's in mint condition, I would have to bend my limits.
Occasionally I see a pen listed in a price guide. What they base their pricing on is a mystery to me. It's extremely arbitrary. So what is a pen worth to you? What you are able and/or willing to pay for it. If you intend to sell it... it's only worth what someone else is able/willing to pay for it. It's a lot like the stock market. Prices fluctuate based on supply and demand. Shop for the best price. Don't spend more than you can afford. Most importantly, remember they are just pens and collecting is supposed to be fun!
Note to international traders/shippers... The US Postal Service has issued a new Customs form for international packages. Grab a handful on your next trip to the PO. The older forms are no longer accepted at most USPS locations.
Early in August, Finn Sørensen... had a business meeting at Eskesen. For the first time, he met new owner, Ole Schneider (left), face - face. Finn (right) reports it was a “highly enjoyable” meeting. They touched on many interesting subjects. The idea of having collectors reveal their favorite pen was discussed. Not only which pen is favored, but why.
I would like to take that a step further. If you had to purge your entire collection with the exception of one and only one pen... which pen would you save, and why?
Months ago, Beverly Broadstone... acquired a new lateral metal file cabinet to store her pens. It's a huge, sturdy piece of furniture that will no doubt server her well for years to come. Cabinets like this are far too expensive to buy new. Auctions, thrift and used furniture stores are affordable alternative sources. Office supply stores sometimes offer used office equipment. For Beverly, this was a timely find. Her display cabinet (right) was on the verge of overload.
Pens Past, Present and Future...
As of this issue... the Float Aways category has been renamed Singles. Only one pen is available per design so it just seems more appropriate. These designs have either been discontinued by my distributor or I have decided not to restock them. Either way... it's your last chance!
$1 Days... were introduced in the last issue. It was a big success. So, for now this new feature will continue. Pens included are just a buck while supplies last or the sale ends. Check it out! $1 Days sale begins NOW and ends midnight on August 21, 2004, when the pens revert back to their normal prices.
The $1 Days list features a nice mix of pens. The LA/New Orleans/Jazz band pen is an oldie. The design has since been updated. Since this design is no longer available it would be a good time to pick one up.
Nancy Nerenberg at Float Art designs... is responsible for 10 of the pens on the new arrivals list. All of her designs are in short supply, some as few as 8. Do not hesitate to get your orders in. I feel lucky to have any to offer. I know there are going to be a lot of disappointed collectors.
Back by popular demand... Animals/Butterflies (clear), Humor/Junk Food and WI/Cheeseheads have returned to the Main List (under their category headings).
Longaberger is a prominent... name in Ohio. I am unsure how much impact it has outside of the Midwest? Longaberger Baskets are made in Dresden, Ohio and they have a mighty following. I know their baskets are treasured, collected and traded everywhere (including ebay), but I suspect more so here than any where else.
The new list includes two pens that are site-specific to the Longaberger factory. This was a retail purchase that had to be shipped, so they are a little pricey, but special. The first commemorates a 2003 event. The second features the Homestead and gazebo. Save $1 when you buy both. The first 15 buyers will also receive a postcard of the famous giant Longaberger basket.
On the home front... things have been askew. I just don't know how else to describe it. Bill and I both lost our footing in the spring and have yet to regain control. May 20-21 we lost a lot of trees and my computer to violent storms. The 22nd we headed for Wyoming, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati to do an art fair.
We were amazed to see their Cicada population had emerged in full force. We didn't expect to be greeted by thousands of giant flying bugs! These creepy crawlers are the size of your thumb. Their numbers so great, you can't avoid them. A lot of our lady customers chose to stay home.
Not only did collector Michele Peragine brave the bugs, she came bearing gifts. Michele covers cigar boxes with clippings from magazines, newspapers and the like. See more pics in Issue #38. She brought three boxes for me, each piece a work-of-art. They are perfect for storing float pens. Unfamiliar with Cicada? This link will surely freak you out! Intro to Cicada.
On a more positive note, Bill and I are fine. We are working hard to prepare for our last major craft event on Labor Day weekend. We look forward to a trip to the west coast to celebrate my brother's 50th b-day this fall.
Minki, our eldest cat, is responding well to her subcutaneous fluid treatments. Her health and quality of life have improved ten-fold. Thanks for asking.
2004 has been a good pen year. I was thrilled to get the sample pens from Topline and Retrobank. Lots of exciting pen designs have been offered in Float About this year too. Life is odd, but life is good. I hope it's just plain good for you.
Time to review... the pen list. As always, orders are handled on a first come - first served basis. The first couple of days after I post Float About, things are pretty crazy. Remember, I work alone. Patience appreciated. OH! If you should happen upon links that do not work, please let me know. And with that, I would like to close with some incredible shots of an Ohio sunset, taken from our back porch on August 11, 2004. Enjoy what remains of your summer.
Forever afloat... Diana
a star indicates an active 'clickable' link throughout this website
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11am-midnight EST)
Copyright © August 2004 Float About... Diana Andra