Float About #53... © Copyright Thurs/Sept 28, 2006
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

First I must apologize... for the extended wait. Yes, it's really been nearly four months since issue #52 posted. For many years Bill and I routinely participated in twelve to sixteen art fairs per year. Our 2006 season was trimmed to four events. Unfortunately they all took place within an eight week period. We produce everything we offer for sale in our booth. That translates to a brief, but extremely rushed show schedule. It all came to an end with the Labor Day Arts Fest in Columbus, OH. Now Bill and I can turn our attention to other pursuits. Bill's headed straight back to the workshop to fill his wholesale orders. For me, the project with the utmost importance was getting issue #53 written and posted. It's finally finished! You have waited far too long, so let's get right to it.

Follow-up to Issue #52...
To date, the most incredible pen story of 2006... would have to be the introduction of digital imagery by Eskesen. It was the lead story in issue #52. A few digital designs appeared on the new arrivals list in the same issue. It's possible you encountered digital pens during your summer travels. There has been a lot of controversy regarding the change. For veteran floaty collectors, it was a shocking turnabout and caused quite a storm. It's been four months or more since the pens reached the collectors market. The initial shock seems to have softened.

In reality both of these pens are nicer than depicted in my scans. Scanning seems to pick up the tiniest hash marks that would otherwise escape the naked eye.
The dark areas in the orbit pen make the graphics snap, crackle and pop. You can't see it in my scan, but the Hollywood pen has a detailed street scene as the backdrop.

While some collectors were distressed and others highly agitated about the detour, not everyone is freaked out about the change-over. Florida collector, Tina DeSalvo responded with “I'm with you, thinking digital will improve over time. I collect more for themes, categories or memories so it won't slow me down any. ”

Craig Wilson of California shares... “Yes, it's too bad about the new developments at Eskesen, but I suppose you could look at it from the viewpoint that it may make our existing Photoramic collections that much more valuable. Also, maybe the new images will be less susceptible to fading in bright light, not being on film. ”

British floaty fan, Keith Bartlett, offered this opinion... “The debate about digital will rage on. Digital will win and get better so you will hardly know the difference. I look at the modern animated films by Disney and feel that something is not quite as good as it used to be. (More like I'm just getting old!) Take Chicken Little, excellent as the animation is (reflection in his spectacles etc) the hand drawn films such as Jungle Book and Pinocchio will win every time. If you don't intend to watch new films because they are digital, you will miss out. The majority of film goers and DVD collectors will support the new format. 'Best' doesn't always win. Remember Betamax versus VHS?” That's so true. And today even VHS has been superseded by DVD.

These are all points worthy of consideration. I should mention that the floater is still on film. The foreground, background and caption panels are now printed on paper. I have detected a degree of improvement with the most recent designs. Time will tell if digital imagery will someday match or even surpass the photoramic quality. Collectors continue to watch and wait.

Factory News...
I returned from California.... to find Eskesen initiated a few changes. You may remember at the beginning of the year when E dropped all of their pen subscriptions, except the Silver Package? In June they decided to eliminate the Silver package as well. I get the impression the withdrawal is indefinite.

There has been yet another surprising announcement regarding Eskesen's product line. Over the years we have witnessed many additions and even a few deletions in the variety of pen styles offered by Eskesen. They recently announced they have dropped the F14527 clicker style pen. If you are unfamiliar with pen styles, refer to the Anatomy & Definitions page.

I don't know how many of these pens you have in your collection, but I find them to be the most contrary. They are difficult to refill. For long term storage I find that it is wise to loosen the plastic top. If the parts are tightly cranked together and then clipped to a file folder, the pen may pop apart from the undo pressure. I have found many clicker parts in the bottom of my file folders. If the pen doesn't pop apart the pen tends to bow from the constant pressure. If you have your clicker pens clipped to something, check their condition periodically.

Tip n Strip or conceal/reveal imagery is often featured in the F14527 clicker pens. While the clicker style has disappeared, Eskesen's signature conceal/reveal imagery is here to stay. Beer will continue to pour from the bottle to a glass and back again. Models will carry on the tradition of dressing and undressing. This seemingly magic effect can be captured in the classic, twist n click and C-top pen styles, so no need to worry.

Life has a natural tendency... to balance, but business must labor to achieve symmetry. A few of us will lament the loss of the clicker style pen, but many will revel in the creation of Balmshell lip gloss wands. Click here to see all ten designs (Sorry, link is defunct; Removed May 2015).

The lovely ladies featured left are the enterprising team behind this innovative product. “Twins, Jennifer and Fiona Lees, were born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Between them they have worked in the advertising, film, television and media industries, but their true passion has always been cosmetics.”

“Their inspiration for the look and unique packaging of Balmshell came from a float art pen they purchased in a kitschy shop in Yorkville. Expressed through the colourful illustrations and amusing storylines, Balmshell aims to celebrate the inner goddess that exists in all women.”

“Spanish born illustrator, Mar Murube is the artistic talent behind the Balmshell illustrations. Since pursuing a full time career as an illustrator in 2004, Ms. Murube’s work has appeared in various fashion magazines including, Vogue Italia, Elle, Marie Claire and In Style, as well as on products, posters and advertising campaigns, such as the latest packaging of Zara’s Textures.”

Balmshell comes in a distinctively packaged tube that contains a floating illustration unique to each shade and story line. Each illustration, conceptualized by Jenny and Fiona, was brought to life by Mar Murube, and depicts a unique personality. When the lip-gloss is done, the handle can be unscrewed and re-attached to the keychain provided with the product. Balmshell will be available in Canada exclusively at Holt Renfrew stores in September 2006. The suggested retail price is $25.00.” The sisters will open an on-line store in the near future.

It was Regina Merwin that directed me to the article that appeared in Canada's National Post. The bulk of the text I have provided was borrowed from either the article or Balmshell's website. Explore and enjoy both. The website includes photos, product info, a press release and other pertinent information.

Kim Rasmussen, at Eskesen, has confirmed the floaty wands are genuine Eskesen products made exclusively for Balmshell. This is a clever collaboration and hopefully it will prove to be a triumph for the sisters and E. Success to all!

Media Sightings...
Jan Webb was tickled to find an article about collectors and the treasures they gather in her local Sacramento Bee newspaper. The story and photo appeared in the travel section on Sun/August 13th. The following paragraph is in the words of Jill Barbera of Sacramento.

Collect Call
Travelers Love to put their Souvenirs on Display
By The Bee's Scott Lorenzo
Pens and Pennies
“When I travel, my favorite things to collect are pressed pennies (you know, those machines that take a perfectly good penny and press a picture onto the surface while smashing away). As a backup, I also collect floating pens, the brightly colored pens complete with a scene that floats by when the pen is tipped. These are in every airport gift shop -- even during the shortest layover, you will find me tipping pens. My favorite pen is one that I purchased in Hawaii and depicts a family running from a lava flow. How corny! In all, I have more than 200 pennies and perhaps 40 pens. (I have only just begun!)”

Click here to read the rest of the story (Sorry, the article has been removed.) Scoot down to the very bottom of the article to see photos of several collectors with their booty. Thank you Jan! I know our fellow collectors will enjoy it.

On August 15th Craig Wilson, of California... sent an email chocked full of floaty news. He began with an Internet media sighting. “Thought you'd appreciate this link to a video posted on YouTube.com. It's from someone in a group called Venus Hum who collects floaty pens everywhere they tour. He's a little befuddled by several of them, as you'll see”... http://www.youtube.com.

Wisconsin collector, Debbie Hoesly got a real kick out of the video. “How funny was that! And the references to his Wisconsin pens being the most confusing was hysterical. Yeah, this state is obviously still looking for its identity. What that guy needs is a Wisconsin Cheesehead pen. Unfortunately everyone recognizes that flattering mascot!!!”

Wed/Sept 20, I had the first five pages... of this issue polished and firmly in place. Then I received this Doonesbury comic strip by the talented Garry Trudeau. Craig Wilson was the first to report it. He referred to it as an almost floaty sighting. I would agree, but it has merit. Within hours, Gwen Garabedian, sent the same clipping from the LA Times. What a hoot!

Fabrice Frere was the creative force... behind the sexy lingerie spread featured in the March issue of City magazine. If not for Micale Maddox, we could have missed this one. She brought the ad to my attention. You can refer to the original coverage in Issue #51 of Float About.

In June I received an email from Fabrice.
“ Hi :-)Just stumbled on your lovely site. I wanted to thank you for featuring our magazine editorial on your website. And to clarify your conviction, you're right: The photo shoot to create this editorial took 2 days. The first day we shot our lingerie models on a white backdrop, and the second day we shot the penitentiary environments. The girls were later super-imposed on the pens by photographer Kenji Toma. Cheers! FAB”

I thanked Fabrice for confirming how they managed to capture the models in the pens. The contrast of fashion over a penetentiary backdrop was a brazen and effective choice. The use of tip n strips was absolutely brilliant. You just never know where floaty pens will make their next appearance. Please continue to report your sightings.

Collectors News...

Miranda Wittebol has a brand new... pen to her credit. In addition to working full-time, collecting all the time, Miranda also dabbles in pen design. Her latest pen, in honor of Rembrandt, was created in the C-Top style in two colors, peach and chocolate. It is a digital design and as you can see... it is quite striking. The pen is currently available for trade from Miranda. You can contact her at mwittebol1970@kpnmail.nl

Miranda's collection continues to grow. Earlier this year she crossed the 10,000 mark. She didn't look back. She didn't slow down. Miranda always looks to the future. If you follow pen action on eBay or if you are an active trader, you probably know Andy Balbus. Over the last few years Andy has purchased a number of floaty collections to feed his personal pen craving. His duplicates often appear on eBay. In a recent email Andy told me he spent many summer hours cataloging his collection. His current count of Eskesen floaty pens now exceeds 10,000. With 10,500+ pens and counting, Miranda's status as Float Pen Queen remains solid. Congratulations to Andy. He is now the undisputed Float Pen King. Long live our floaty royalty!

Norwegian collector, Tone Helen Hanken... is visiting Japan this month. It's primarily a business trip, but if at all possible she will make time to shop for floaty pens. Tone recently updated her trade list. If you are interested, her site is listed on my websites page. The names of collectors are boldfaced and arranged in alphabetical order for easy reference.

Oma Walsh, of Oregon ... has been an avid float pen collector for several years. After reading about the American Pencil Collectors Society in Float About Oma and her husband Larry decided to join the organization. The Walsh's were both impressed and a little blown away by the intensity and dedication of the membership. To commemorate their initiation into the group many members have had custom pencils made. Oma and Larry thought it was a grand idea. They chose this inscription for their custom pencil...

(Street address)

When the pencils arrived, Oma and Larry had to laugh. “It was supposed to read 'Veni, Vidi, Scripsi' which means 'I came, I saw, I wrote'. Instead all 500 pens read 'Veni,Vidi, Espripsi' which means 'I came, I saw, and ? - apparently the word escripsi does not exist in Latin.” The majority of the pencils have since been donated. Oma offered these words of wisdom regarding custom orders, “Check and recheck your work even when using a reliable source.” The corrected pencils have been received. It makes for a happy ending and the beginning of a new collection for Oma and Larry.

Finn Sørensen is also an APCS member... and ardent float pen collector. Realtor, Audrey Young-Tarter, of California is fairly new to our community, but an extremely enthusiastic collector and trader. It may not seem likely that Finn and Audrey would have an occasion to meet, but they did... in Bangkok!

This is Audrey's account... “It was great meeting Finn - he is really a very sweet, up -front guy. We have traded pens twice around since I started trading 2005 September. My husband, Raphael, and I treated Finn to Dim Sum Chinese dinner we found in Bangkok (a specialty in San Francisco - Beverly Broadstone likes it). He and I chatted like we had known each other for 100 years. I think that must be how it is when there are so many floaty pens about and you wish to trade with other.”

Finn's recollection is detailed and colorful. He has dedicated a page of his website to their Thailand Summit. While you are there explore Finn's site to see his trade list and travel photos.

Pennsylvania collector, Marisa Barna... had this happy-got-lucky story to share. “Recently my family and I went to a nearby Scottish Festival for the day. We're not Scottish, but it's a fun event with lots of bagpipes and men wearing kilts. Tents and tables were set-up to represent all the different Scottish clans. Each table had a book you could sign to receive more information. Well, I was just walking along glancing at the different tables when I spotted a floaty pen by one of the sign-in books! I immediately swooped in and grabbed the pen to look at it. Much to my excitement, it was a custom made floaty pen for a 1999 company picnic held at a nearby amusement park called Kennywood! It reads, ‘ADtranz Kennywood Picnic 1999.’ The company manufactures monorails. The floater is a monorail car that floats with the Steel Phantom roller coaster with the words ‘Kennywood’ in the background! I was soooooooooo excited! I immediately asked the lady if she had another pen, but she didn't. Then she asked ‘Why?’ I exuberantly told her that I collect these pens and this pen is amazingly awesome! Her and her husband just couldn't get over how excited I was getting over a pen, so they just gave it to me. They said they would just go home and throw it back in a drawer anyway, so if it would make me this happy, I could just have it. Definitely the highlight of my day!”

Terrific score Marisa. What an unlikely place to snag an elusive float pen. Pencil cups filled with an assortment of writing instruments can be found on every desk, also near point-of-sale areas and close-by every receptionist. Pay attention. You will find float pens in the strangest places.

Pens Out and About...
Bill and I were in... San Diego again in June. Sometime ago, Beverly Broadstone mentioned the Maritime Museum had a custom floaty. We were pleased to find it was still in stock. I was told it is also available online. I did not see it on their website, so I attempted to get mailorder information. The gift shop did not respond to my emails. Feel free to pester them online www.sdmaritime.org or call 619/234-9153. (NOTE: May 2015; the store may/may not keep this design in stock.)

On Father's Day we prowled through the Museum of Man in Balboa Park. The Body Ornamentation exhibit was too cool. Sadly, their gift shop was void of pens. Floaty prospects were looking pretty dismal until Bill broke away to spend a few hours at the USS Midway Museum. He crawled all over an aircraft carrier while I shopped at Horton Plaza. When we met for dinner, he presented me with a custom floaty from the Midway. While my shopping excursion was entertaining, it didn't yield one floaty pen.

This summer, Craig Wilson and wife Terri... had a fabulous island vacation. “We had a great time in Hawaii this summer. I need to find a license plate frame that reads: ‘I'd Rather Be Snorkeling!’ Only found a few pens that I hadn't seen elsewhere.”

Some weeks ago Craig provided a link to a site that sells Kliban items.
You can purchase this pen at...
(Sorry, I disabled the link 6/3/07. Items have sold out.)

And again from CW.... “Here's another pen available online. It's not new, by any means. I picked one up five years ago when we were in South Dakota. And frankly, I've seen better graphics, but someone may want to order one, anyway. It's from the Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, South Dakota. ” Order direct online for $2.95 per pen, plus s/h. (Pen sold out long ago; Link removed May 2015.)

A big thank you to Craig for sharing his sources. He provided a bounty of floaty information for this issue. Look for Craig Wilson on the websites. He maintains a long and interesting list of float pens for trade. Regina Merwin, at Operagraphics... recently took her mother to San Diego to celebrate mom's 70th B-Day. They floated in to the Mingei Museum for the fabulous Carnival! exhibit, lunched at Prado, a fine restaurant situated in the heart of Balboa Park. They want a return visit with more time for exploration.

Alas, Regina is back to work, but very excited about her most recent designs. The pen pictured left has yellow blossoms imprinted on the foreground window. Glitter sparkles as it trickles through the artwork. Bling! The caption panel reads, ‘PUCCINI’ followed by ‘MADAMA BUTTERFLY’ flanked by butterflies. The second design, a twist n click, represents Don Giovanni.

Both designs are in stock. You will find several opera floaty pens and many opera related items for sale on Regina's site, which is always posted on my websites page.

Pens Past, Present and Future....
Photoramic pen production... may be a thing of the past, but many photoramics are still in play. Between eBay, retailers, trade lists and online sources, many photo pens exchange hands everyday. Doug Yeo and wife Patricia traveled extensively this summer. This is one of their digital finds.

The majority of the pens on my list... have always been between $3.25-$6. Most of the pens on my Main List are photoramics, which I can not replace. The starting pen price is going to increase from $3.25 to $3.75. Old prices will be in effect for one full week after issue #53 has posted.

Our son, Josh, ventured into the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He surprised me with pens from the Bog People exhibit. I know Marisa Barna had this on her trade list some months ago. Thanks to Josh, I have a limited number for sale.

The pen above is a photoramic. The New Arrivals list will open with fifteen new designs. Many are digital revisions that will replace their photoramic predecessors. The majority of new pens sport digital imagery. You will not have to guess which ones. Digital designs are noted within the listing. On your invoice they are always designated with a (d) after the description. The MO/Bluebirds is pretty silly. The birds get lost behind the Arch. I bet that one will get a revision.

Bill Maunder of Butte, MT... encouraged me to order pens from the Roy Rogers Museum. The museum moved from Victorville, CA to Branson, MO.

They had a new custom pen made to celebrate their new location. I had to pay retail so the price is a little higher than most. Order as many as you like. I bought 27.

This year I also purchased two pen collections. One includes a large number of political pens. The other a nice mix of cartoons, ads, humor and locations. By the end of the week, things will settle down and I will begin scanning duplicates. I intend to scan 10-20 pens per day. Each time I reach 100, I will post the scans. Watch Float Along for updates.

I am currently looking into 4-6 different designs from three different museums. The contacts there are slow to respond to my questions, but I will be persistent. I want to see examples of the pens before I commit to an order. If I am successful, I will divulge the designs in Float Along.

In my opinion... this is a fantastic float design. The upright posts are printed in the foreground. The wall of the shelter is on the background panel. The ship slips neatly in between. Classy and effective. When space allows, I would like to highlight a special design in each issue. That is, if YOU think it's a good idea?

On the Homefront...
Our June trip to California ... to settle my brother's affairs went very well. In July I finally sold Gary's motorcycle. For me, that was a tremendous relief. His property is now on-the-market. With fingers crossed, I so hope it sells before the New Year begins. Bill and I both enjoyed a successful art show season. It was exhausting, but at least our efforts were rewarded. With show biz behind us, now I can concentrate on pens and posting junque on eBay. These tasks have been neglected for far too long.

At this time I do not have anything listed on eBay. It will probably be a week or two before I do. If you are interested my eBay user name is floatabout.

It has been suggested that I post the newsletter earlier in the day or even in the evening. There is a reason I post so close to midnight. There are about 900 names on my email list. To deter spammers, my server limits the number of emails I can send/receive in one day to a total of 500. So that everyone receives their notification within an hour or so, I send as many notifications as I can just before midnight and the rest immediately after the clock strikes 12. The newsletter was prepared to print using Internet Explorer.

I will be out of town for 2-3 days the week of October 26th to visit friends and family in Lima, OH. Issue #54 is scheduled to post on Nov 28th. Don't worry. I will hold off until the first week of December. As usual, time sensitive news will post in Float Along in between issues. Be sure to check there once a week or so to keep up-to-date and see the latest duplicates. Don't forget. Prices increase in one week.

If there is anything I forgot... I am so sorry. Please remind me. I can always include whatever it may be in Float Along or the next issue of the newsletter. I hope you are well and headed for an amazing autumn. The photos above were taken this afternoon from our back porch. The soy beans are just about ready for harvest and the trees have a hint of fall color. We can't even pretend it's summer anymore.

Last November we were adopted by a little black cat with a lot of attitude. Bill swears she fell off a witch's broom. Since she is our very own Halloween cat... I will let Itsy Bitsy deliver my best wishes.

That's all for now, but check Float Along frequently for news!

Go forward to read Issue #54 from Dec 11, 2006
Back up and read the Issue #52 from May 29, 2006
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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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