Float About #50... © Copyright Thurs/Dec 15, 2005
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

Issue #50... is a major milestone for Float About. The best part is that you are all here to share it with me. I know, the timing is bad. You are likely very busy with work and the holiday rush. Even so, slow down and take a few deep breaths. Grab a cup of tea, or coffee and enjoy the newsletter. You will feel better.

News from the Eskesen Factory...
This is the official word.... regarding your Eskesen pen subscriptions. Kim Rasmussen expects the parcels to ship on or by the 20th of December. The boxes will include the 2005 version of their special Merry Christmas pen. Platinum subscription holders will have to wait until January to receive their original drawing and the pens from the drawing.

Right now the factory is gearing up for the big PSI Promotional Show in Düssedorf, Germany. It's an extremely important event. Most of Eskesen's sales staff will be working at the show. Promotional events, like the PSI, give Eskesen an opportunity to show-off their products, generate new business and rekindle old accounts. The more successful the event, the more float pens will be created. So... subscribers, please be patient. Your pens will soon be on their way.

Follow-Up to Issue #49
Grace's eBay auctions... have all ended. Thanks to many of you the project was victorious. Grace's mother, Ann, asked me to share this with you. “Just a message to thank you and all your contacts for helping Grace to raise 479£ from the pens that Brian gave her. It was nice to communicate with lots of friendly people from all over the world. Grace has done a lot of fund raising and has now reached her target and is off to Ecuador on the 7th of January. She is busy working in the local supermarket to raise enough for her spending money now. Many thanks to you once more and can you pass on our thanks to everyone?” I am honored to do so, Ann and Grace. The floaty community was happy to be of service. If you are unsure what this is all about, refer to coverage in the last issue of Float About Fleeting Floaty Pen Auctions.

Float Pen Displays...

Irene Skrybailo-Meltzer's husband, Walter... created this floaty cabinet. He presented it to Irene as an anniversary gift two years ago. It measures 52" high by 27" wide and 12" deep. Her cabinet is lovingly fashioned from cherry and maple. The drawers are 18.5" long, 9" wide and 3" deep. Each of the six drawers contain three trays. The 17" by 7" felt-lined trays are a little less than an inch high. Irene can store 38 pens in each tray, about 114 per drawer.

“The cabinet holds almost all of my pens, but not quite. I guess Walter will have to start on the next one.” Irene's husband is in the process of starting up another company. She is trying to convince him to have a custom promotion floaty pen made. Irene feels, “ It would be far superior to your average promotional give away.&rdquo. She won't get any argument from her fellow collectors. Of course, if Irene persuades Walter to go for a floaty, we all hope to have a shot at owning one.

Pens Out and About...
Fresh talent at Topline Products, Inc... has given a modern punch to some of their old standard designs. You may have noticed a contemporary graphic style emerging in the pens on my newer lists? There is a reason. Meet Jeffrey William Grames. We exchanged questions and answers via email. It's ok... you can listen in.

Q: Jeff, I would like to believe that your life long dream was to grow up, live in Seattle and become a float pen designer. However, I realize that may not be the case. What was it that brought you to Seattle?
A: After highschool I went to the University of Toledo for a short time. I realized I didn't want to sit at a desk for another 4 years, so I joined the Army. After training, my first station was Fort Lewis, outside of Tacoma. I fell in love with Washington and specifically Seattle. After my four years were up, I decided to move out here and go to The Art Institute of Seattle. After meeting my wife, who is from this area, I decided to make the move permanent.

Q: Your major or art specialty is?
A: I am a graphic designer/illustrator. In my freelance work, I do everything from business cards and c.d. art to ads and book illustrations. I guess my specialty would be band posters and c.d. art.

Q: Have you participated in gallery showings or art exhibitions?
A: Yes, with some of my more artsy-ish paintings.

Q: The artist(s) that inspire you most are?
A: Well, I am kind of a geek so it is a lot of comic book artists; Mike Mignola, Frank Cho, Frank Miller and a huge list of others. I also really like art nouveau artists like Mucha. As far as painters go, I like the usual; Picasso, Rembrandt, Dali and one of my all time favorites is Norman Rockwell. Everything he did was a masterpiece.

Q: You made it all the way to Seattle, but how did you find Topline Products, or did they find you?

A: Topline posted the job on craigslist.com and I responded. There are a lot of niche fields in art; packaging, logo's, etc... but I hadn't really thought of souvenirs before. So, it really piqued my interest. After meeting everyone here, I knew it would be challenging, but fun. So, for the first couple of weeks I was really lost but now I am getting the hang of it.

Q: Were you acquainted with float pens before this job?
A: Yes, I was. Well, in buying them, not designing them. It was definitely fun in those first designs to figure out how to fit all I wanted to into that itty-bitty space. It was a lot of trial and error on graphics, fonts and sizes of both.

Q: Jeff, I assume your position revolves around product design? Is there one product you enjoy working on more so than the others? I won't be offended if it isn't float pens!
A: I actually really like the floaty pens. It is more of an immediate thing. When we design our mugs and such, it can take months to get a sculpted sample back. Also, sometimes the sculptors vision of my design and the final product differ. I really enjoy doing our custom pens. It is great to tie in aspects of our clients merchandise or flavor into the pens. After a client sees the artwork, it is great to hear that they are excited about the pens and can't wait to get them.

Q: Are you a collector? If not, you are forgiven. If you are a collector, what is it you feel compelled to gather and squirrel away?
A: I collect way too many things. As my grandfather used to say, “ One man's trash is another man's treasure.” What makes it worse is that I married a collector too. Our apartment gets smaller and smaller every week. We collect toys, bobble heads, belt buckles, magnets, salt-n-pepper shakers, books and a huge mess of other eclectic nonsense. When we move, we always say we are going to throw stuff out and stop buying so much, then we see more stuff that we have to have( usually my wife has to have it, I just have to pay for it)!

Jeff has been a very prolific designer in the short time he has been with Topline Products. You will have many opportunities to own his work. All of these designs by Jeff are currently available on the new arrivals list: DC/Bald Eagle at Capitol, DC/Lincoln Memorial/Scroll, MD/Three crabs, NJ/Sailboats, NYC/Red Apple, NYC/FDNY/Red Fire Truck, NYC/NYPD/Police Car, NY/NYC/Big Yellow Taxi, OK/Cow Tipping, North Am Wildlife/Moose, CA/LA/Beverly Hills/White Limo, DC/Jefferson Memorial, MN/Loons, MN/Moose, NY/King Kong on Empire State, NY/Statue of Liberty, OH/Cleveland/Skyline, TX/Armadillos and VA/Three Crabs. Whew! Those are just the pens that I know about. I predict many new and exciting designs to follow. Jeff, welcome aboard. Eskesen collectors wish you a successful career and a fantastic future in the world of souvenirs.

In mid-October Craig and Terri Wilson... visited family in St. Louis. Craig returned with good news. “ The St. Louis Zoo's penguin/puffin exhibit was definitely worth the trip. I liked it better than what I saw in Alaska! Didn't have much luck looking in the likeliest shops there, but I got a pleasant surprise all the same. I found a new Lewis & Clark pen in nearby St. Charles, a former capitol of Missouri.”

The portraits are switched so Lewis is now on the left. The caption panel refers to the site - Historic St. Charles, MO. In the right foreground, a native now watches the boat from shore.

A few days passed when I heard from Oregon collector... Oma Walsh. She discovered the Oregon Historical Society had yet another version. Obviously the caption panel differs. Andrew, at the museum, provided the caption text. “Lewis & Clark Expedition” next line... “1803 Corps of Discovery 1806”. Andrew mentioned, “Another difference between this float pen and the one from St. Charles is that it does not feature an American Indian in the bottom right corner of the foreground.”

You may order this pen directly from the OHS. According to Kay Knack, at the giftshop, the pens sell for $5 each. There is a $3 shipping charge for the first pen, but only $.50 for each additional pen that you order. Reach Kay or Andrew at the store via email. (Sorry, pens are long gone!)

Remember the ancient coin pen/keyrings... that Ray Wilk had in-the-works? “Well, it took a while, but I finally have my Ancient Coin floaty pens and keychains in stock and online.” And what a beauty it is! Order this one directly from Ray... (Sorry, long gone!)

Collectors News...
Have you met Amy Bertsch... from Alexandria, VA? Amy found her first pen in July of 1990 on the ground in the parking lot at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. It was from New Vrindaban in Moundsville, West Virginia.

“It features Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, the Hare Krishna temple. Now I've got about 500 pens and the Palace of Gold is still one of my favorites.”

“Another fave is from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and shows a beagle running from a research lab to freedom. (Amy tried to scan both in case you're not familiar with them. I had to shrink the images.)”

Amy likes advertising and business pens, well executed museum pens, and pens with classic images that are just over the top, like Botticelli's Venus with Venus rising and sinking. She also enjoys pens that feature historical figures and places where the floater is a giant image of someone's head. She was so inspired by her pens, Amy decided to create one of her own.

“ The police pen was my idea and design. I've collected floaty pens for years and always wanted to have one made. I work for the Alexandria Police Department. Each May, thousands of police officers from across the country come to the Washington, D.C. area for National Police Week. Annually there are hundreds of families of fallen officers who stay here in Alexandria. An organization called COPS (Concerns Of Police Survivors) offers grief and support services for the parents, spouses and children of officers who have died in the line of duty. So early this year, with my tax refund, I decided to have the Alexandria police pens made to be given out to the children of fallen officers. We gave out about 150 to the kids and several more to adults who like police collectibles.”

This photo is a small version of the mock-up that Amy submitted to Topline Products. “The background features four well-known Alexandria landmarks (left to right): the Beatley Library (designed by architect Michael Graves), the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (known as the Masonic Temple), Alexandria City Hall (built in the 1800s) and the Torpedo Factory. ”

Amy did a fabulous job. While she had hoped the images in the pen would look more like her photos, she is pleased with the final product. My scan is inferior to the actual artwork.

Amy did not design the Torpedo Factory pen, but she is responsible for finding them and sending them our way. She provided some insight to the design.

“ What is so cool about the Torpedo Factory is that they really made torpedoes there. It was known as the US Naval Torpedo Station. ”
“ Construction began right after the first World War ended. Located on the waterfront, along the Potomac river, it employed a lot of workers and continued to make torpedoes until the end of World War II. Then it became a storage facility for the federal government. In the late 60s, some local artists got the idea to rehabilitate the building and use it for studios. In historic preservation this is known as adaptive reuse. Today it is an art center with studios, classes and exhibits. A torpedo is displayed at the factory and is the floater in their pen. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy a bit of local history.” Thanks to Amy, both pens are available on the New Arrivals category.(12/24/05 Torpedo pen sold out).

Amy has caught the designing bug. She is already dreaming of her next endeavor.

“The other pen I would love to do is of my college, West Virginia University. It has a very historic downtown campus with ivy-covered buildings and a modern second campus with a coliseum and hospital. They are connected by a monorail system known as the PRT (Personal Rapid Transit), which would be the perfect floater. ” Amy, may your floaty pen dream come true... and soon.

This is just too cool... to keep to myself. I received this card from Wisconsin collector, Debbie Hoesly. I crunched the outside, inside and back into one graphic. Debbie added a note to the message, “I saw this card and I thought of you immediately!” I thought you might get a kick out of it too.

The message reads...

for keeping me afloat

The card is a Max & Lucy design, distributed by InterArt. Although probably not intended for floaty pen collectors,
it's so apropos. Browse the card aisle at your favorite store, or visit the artist's website for more info.


Sue Buetow hails from the... Land of 10,000 Lakes. Not so long ago, Sue and I compared our Minnesota floaty collections. There is one pen that we both hold dear. We all know the story of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox named Babe. For many years the Paul Bunyan Center sold Paul and Babe floaty pens to the tourist trade. As collectors we recognize pens from places that no longer exist are extra special.

“The Paul Bunyan Center in Brainerd is no longer there. This was a treasured amusement park that operated in Brainerd for decades. I took my kids there many times when they were young. Brainerd, Minnesota used to be a fun place to visit. There were several deer parks, something called Storybook Land with statues of storybook characters and so much more. Everything has been closed up, torn down, and made into condos. It is now a yuppie golfing community. It's sad to witness such drastic changes. ”

“Some of the items from Paul Bunyan Center have been moved else where, but what is depicted inside the pen is history. Maybe sometime when you run out of things to write about in Float About you could include some pen sources that are now defunct? As if you will ever run out of things to write about (ha-ha). Just a thought. ”

It's an excellent thought. Sue and I are fortunate to have the Paul Bunyan and Babe pen. These oldies have become the precious gems within our personal collections. You must also have pens from places forever lost? Please share your stories.

In the last issue of Float About... Sue B asked if anyone could shed some light on the background of the Letotur and Hello Sunshine pens included in her subscription package. She had already referred to Google and other search engines to no avail. When no one responded to her inquiry, I contacted the factory. According to Kim Rasmussen, an Eskesen client from Holland commissioned the Hello Sunshine design. As for the www.Letotur.com pen, “It was a sample made in 2001 for Turkey. As far as I can see, it was never produced. Probably only one or two pens exist.” I believe Karen Swanson received the other one.

Louisiana resident, James Kuhn was shaken by Hurricane Katrina, but luckily he did not experience any severe damage to his home or property. Jim is a veteran floaty collector. He checked in with me a few weeks ago. His email has been shortened, but you will get the picture. “I’ve worked in New Orleans since high school and it truly sickens me to see the destruction. Miles and miles, you just can’t imagine it. Life will never be the same here, but we are good people and we will recover. I still have people I worked with ten years ago looking for pens when they travel. Each pen holds a good memory. It was fun to check out the new designs and temporarily took my mind off life here in South Louisiana. Please continue to pray for those in need here.” Jim, you can count on it. Glad to hear you are ok.

Hold on! We have a couple of last minute entries. from Marisa Barna of Pennsylvania. She's supposed to be cramming for her finals, but she took a pen break. “I counted my pens tonight (12/14), and I reached the 1000 mark. 1008 to be exact. I am so excited!” Marisa began collecting when she was 11. She is now 23 years young and still going strong. Marisa admits, “ It's kinda crazy because I think the last 500 pens, maybe even more, were added in the last two years.” Marisa has become an active trader and eBay shopper. She wanted to send a thank you to all of the collectors who have traded with her. Marisa is having a lot of fun and folks, that is what float pen collecting is all about.

Dutch collector, Miranda Wittebol... currently holds the title for the largest Eskesen floaty pen collection on the planet. At least I believe she does. Her latest count, as of Mon/Dec the 14th, is 9835 and climbing! I am convinced she will reach 10,000 by Valentine's Day. Can you beat that?!

Media Sightings...
Miranda reports a media sighting... that is long overdue. Maybe you remember reading about an upcoming Danish movie called Fakiren from Bilbao in a 2004 issue of Float About? The movie opened in October of 2004 and has finally been released on DVD. A float pen plays a major part in the film's plot.

Miranda wanted to make everyone aware that a movie promo floaty pen with Fakir as the floater is available. “ A fellow collector has a package deal for sale. It contains a Danish Donald Duck, a football game and a Fakiren fra Bilbao movie floaty pen! The package was offered for sale in Denmark. If you are interested, you can purchase this package now for 4.50 Euro (plus shipping), while supplies last.” Good catch Miranda! Note... it has come to my attention that this is a non-Eskesen pen. Pens have since sold out.

Craig Wilson found a still pic... from the movie. He found it on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) website. It's an amazing source for any/all movie related trivia.

Odds 'n' Ends...
Categories on the Main list... have been combined. When there are less than a handful of designs available in a specific group, I am going to start combining categories. In this issue Art now shares space with Celebrity. Soon, Religion and Politics will also merge. Now that's a scary thought! If at any time these categories should flourish, they can always be separated again. For now, it should tidy things up. You will have less hoops to jump through when you browse the list.

You may notice the Glitter category has been eliminated. There was just one lonely design remaining in stock. Pittsburgh glitter has joined the ranks of Locations/US. The conceal - reveal Vintage Name pen supply has been depleted. Late October, a German collector purchased nearly all of the name pens. I will not be able to replenish the stock. Only a few names pens remain in inventory.

The webpage that lists... links to other floaty sites has been refreshed. All dead links have been removed. If your site was deleted in error, please let me know. It can easily be fixed.

Postal Rates are due to increase... very early in the New Year. I haven't had a chance to evaluate the new rates. If I need to adjust my shipping charges, I will post the new rates on the terms page. Notice would also appear in Float Along. Of course when you place an order, the updated rates would be reflected in your invoice. Don't worry. You know my shipping charges are kept at a minimum.

Early in November... eleven groups of duplicate pens posted on my website. Only remnants remain. If you are a fan of older pens and discontinued designs, that would be a good place to start. My goal was to post another 300 duplicates with the release of issue #50. For many reasons, that was impossible. January 9th is my new target date. It will be a nice way to kick off 2006 and something to brighten the otherwise dreary days of winter.

As I receive new designs they will be scanned and posted on the bottom of the new arrivals page right away. This addition is called Sneak Preview, but it's more than that. It will feature pens that will be introduced in issue #51, but you may purchase them immediately or wait until issue #51 is released. No more waiting for months to see what's new!

However... I wonder if it's confusing? Honestly, that is not my intent. If many of the pens on the new arrivals list look familiar, it's because they were included in the very first sneak preview. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not you have already purchased a pen design from me... just ask. I can check your most recent orders to make sure you are not buying the same design twice.

The Highlander, a quaint shop in Braemar... Scotland beckoned Biggy (Bridgette) Kuhn's husband. Hubby was attending the Scottish Highland Games. As the spouse of a floaty devotee, he made time to search the shops of Edinborough and the surrounding area hoping to find pens for his bride.

Well, he finally found something at The Highlander. When he presented the pen to Biggy, she thought it might be a joke. It is truly an odd specimen.

Biggy mentioned it to Beverly Broadstone. Beverly contacted me. She thought I might be able to identify the manufacturer. I must admit, I am stumped.


It is far too crude to be an Eskesen. Note the rough edge on the thick metal clip. The coloring book grade of artwork is similar to the work we often see in Chinese and Italian pens, but the stamp on the clip is an unknown mark. Is this concrete evidence of yet another budding floaty manufacturer? I hope not.

Biggy assumes the perpetrator of this latest faux floaty is somewhere in Scotland. Her logic has merit. Italian pens have muddied the floaty fields of Europe. Italian and Chinese counterfeits have crept into the major tourist traps in the USA. The flood of cheap imitation floaty pens is making it increasingly difficult to find our quality Danish made pens.

Why would vendors invest in anything but Eskesen originals? It's a simple matter of economics. Sadly, cheaper overrides quality. Personally, I do not purchase fakes.For me, quality beats quantity every day of the week. Have you encountered these pens in your travels? If so, may I ask where? Any idea what the stamp on the clip stands for? So far, this pen is a mystery. I am so glad Biggy and Beverly brought it to our attention.

At age 53 I find I still... learn something new every day. Sometimes it's knowledge worth sharing. Earlier this week I realized that there are some misunderstandings about refills. If you are under the impression that there is one refill that fits all of the different styles of Eskesen float pens, you are misguided. Each style has a refill to match it's unique personality.

Refills sell for .25 - .50 each. Many of the older pens require a metal refill. Even though Eskesen no longer makes them, I have a decent supply on hand. I tend to carry black rather than blue ink. Black seems to produce a smoother stroke. However, if you need blue, just give me some advance notice and I should be able to get them for you. Refills, spare parts and displays are listed under the Related Products category.

The kidney shaped display... is once again sold out. Can't say I am very anxious to get into the shop to make more. It's cold down there! Sometime in the next month or so I will get to them. Right now scanning duplicates is a more pressing priority.

On the Homefront...
If you follow the news in Float Along... you know why issue #50 is so late. For those that haven't checked in since issue #49 posted, a lot has happened.

I rarely mention my brother Gary. He works on an oil rig off the coast of California. The last time we got together was in July of '02 when he drove all the way across the country to wish me a Happy 50th B-day. We rely on the telephone to stay in touch with one another. About once a month, traditionally on a Sunday night, I get a phone call from my little brother. Little only because he is two years and six months younger than me.

On November 10th Gary was killed in a motorcycle accident in Perris, CA. My parents passed away years ago and Gary was my only sibling. Bill and I flew to California for a week to make arrangements and secure his property. His closest friends arranged a memorial service. Many people came to pay their respects and say goodbye. For me it was both touching and healing. We brought Gary's ashes home to Ohio. He would have celebrated his 51st B-day on December 8th.

We were home just a few days before it was time to go to Pittsburgh to pick up our son Josh. Having him home for ten days over Thanksgiving was a real comfort for me. As Gary's sole survivor, I had a lot on my plate. The newsletter was the least of my worries. Things are getting better with each passing day.

Weather permitting, Josh will be with us the 23rd through the 30th. It shouldn't hinder my work schedule. He will be making glass beads and turning wooden tops while he is home. I look forward to filling your pen orders. Right now staying busy is exactly what I need.

Wow... the holidays are truly upon us. I wish you the best the season has to offer. May you be warm, happy and surrounded by those you love.
Forever afloat...

That's all for now, but check Float Along frequently for news!
Go forward to Issue #51 from posted Mon/March 13, 2006
Back up and read the Issue #49 from Sun/Sept 13, 2005
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FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11 am - midnight EST)
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