Greetings floaty fans... around the world. Please forgive me if this issue seems a bit abrupt. I am squeezing the newsletter in before the new postal rates kick-in on May 14th. You are probably ready to accept the upcoming postal increases. It's not like we can do anything about it. What's a few extra pennies for continued good service? Think again. To date, postal rates have been based primarily on weight. Now the USPS is following trends set by UPS and Fed-Ex. Package rates will now be established by the size, shape and weight of a package. If I understand the new regulations correctly, my practical light-weight bubble padded envelopes will now fall into a larger envelope category because of their thickness. Envelopes that measure over a ¼ of an inch thick will demand a higher rate. Currently I can ship an order of 3 pens for 63¢. The new rate could be as high as $1.30. Not exactly the couple-of-pennies increase I expected!
Obviously I am going to have to adjust my shipping charges. I know the base Priority Mail increase is 65¢ for the first pound. I have already updated my database to reflect the new Priority rates. It's the First Class mail that has me baffled. So much so, I am afraid to even look at the international chart. Many services have been eliminated or combined with others. When I have accurate information I will update my rates. For a tiny mail order business like Float About, this is monumental. I strive to keep my shipping charges down and I will continue to do so. My heart goes out to postal clerks across the country. I predict May 14th and many days beyond are going to be a nightmare for clerks and the public.
Follow-up to Issue #55...
A sweet recap... regarding the Eskesen sample cases. The deadline to reserve a case was March 28th. They arrived about a week later. The only hitch in the project was an unexpected $7 brokerage fee. Buyers compensated the difference. Issue resolved. The week of April 9th the majority of packages were distributed to buyers. With the cases out of my hands, all I had to do was sit back chew my nails and wait for the reviews.
On the 11th Marcie Schonborn called to say her package had just been delivered and she was going to open it while we were both on the phone. It broke my heart to say 'NO!', but I had to encourage her to wait 24-48 hours to open her package. It is always a good idea to allow floaty items to SLOWLY acclimate before opening the package!? Some people just couldn't wait.
Art Bronson was the first to email his report, “ I went back to your site to check the description and pictures from the original announcement. It was all there, but I must say, the case in person, is MUCH neater than I anticipated.”
Linda McCormick was the second to check-in. “Just wanted to let you know that the sample case came in perfect condition and I'm thrilled with it. I think the assortment is wonderful. There are 32 pens, 27 other items (keychains, bottle openers, tooth brushes, magnets, etc.) Of course, my main interest is the pens and I'm very satisfied with the number for the price of the case.”
Beverly Broadstone's email followed... “ The case is very well made, sturdier than I expected. Very organized and laid out well. The pens, well... a little disappointing since they seem to be the same ones that we all got in E's subscription package. There are a few pens that I hadn't seen before, so that's cool. I was happy to see was the McDonald's toothbrush. I just lost an eBay bid on that one. The case is truly a great piece of Eskesen to have in our collection.”
Florida collector, Tina DeSalvo has this to say, “My case came yesterday. The pens in it are fantastic! I think there are only two I already had.”
Marcie S called back to let me know she is very excited about her case, but she was puzzled because she received five pens in the same Mama Mia! design. Others have since mentioned receiving duplicates in the same design.
Just before bedtime I heard from Amy Dedman. “I've SEEN these cases before, but mine has really exceeded all expectations! I was very pleased to receive a floaty bottle opener as it is one of my fave categories. Unlike Beverly B's experience, out of the 37 floaties in my kit, only 16 were duplicate designs, and some of those are a different style than pens I already have. Then there's the four duplicate-duplicate Mama Mia pens. Now I can give a couple of them away! Anyway, I consider the ratio of new pens to duplicates to be terrific... very much worth the cost. I think it's important to keep in mind that the larger one's collection, the greater the chance of receiving duplicates when participating in an offer like this!”
On Friday the 13th Cindy Raines added her thoughts. “ I can't quite decide which is my favorite! I opened the cylinders in reverse order and thought the Duracell key chain was really cool. The little Winnie the Pooh and Piglet pens were wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the items, and look forward to showing off the pens at work.” Cindy was the first to mention the inclusion of tip n strips in her case. She was surprised to find three pens of the female gender and one male. Of course there are tip n strips. They are an important item in Eskesen's product line. I will admit, I didn't even consider there would be t&s pens in the kits. So, now we know... there's a little bit of spice in every package.
The glowing reviews continued to flow. This is the last one, I promise. Due to a recent change of address, Marisa Barna's delivery was delayed by nearly a week. She waited until I returned from vacation to share her joy. “I wanted to let you know that I was very happy with the sample suitcase! As others have said, it was nicer than I even imagined. A real piece of Eskesen history. Even though I had a lot of the pens already, it didn't matter because I was so excited about the awesome brochures and sales items. Of the pens that were new to me, I was especially excited about the Animal Planet Crocodile Hunter pen, as I had wanted it forever! I also enjoyed the non-pen items too, as it was neat to see the other items that Eskesen makes besides floaty stuff. It felt like Christmas as I went through the suitcase for the first time. I am so very pleased with it, I thanked Eskesen for sharing the suitcases with us.”
I am relieved and extremely pleased. When I picked up the first box I could tell by the weight the package it was a substantial case. I asked Eskesen to send 2-3 extra units. They did. If you feel you too should have ordered a case, I have three available. The price is $62.50, plus shipping. This price includes the unexpected $7 brokerage fee. If you are ready to purchase a case, contact me immediately for a shipping quote. The closer you reside to me, the less it will cost to ship. For more details about the case, revisit Issue #55. Please order now so you do not miss out and so that I can ship before May 14th. The rate increase could be as much as $4.
There are SO many designs.... included in the Pens Out and About section for this issue, I didn't want the New Arrivals to get lost. Several outstanding pens are listed. Thanks to Susan Eisen, I am pleased to offer a photoramic Queen Elizabeth 2 pen, in the classic style. The digital US military series, that represents four branches of service, is in stock. The US Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy pens are all in the classic style.
The newly revised baseball pen, with it's baseball bat-shaped barrel, is sure to be a hit. The I Love You music pens were a special purchase. You won't believe the price. Buy as many as you like for your friends, music lovers, students and teachers. The traditional Chicago Windy City and Buckingham Fountain pens have been revised and digitized. There's more.
This extremely personal and extraordinary wedding pen is a Float About exclusive and in short supply. Gardner Monks tells me, “I had a real craving to merchandise my own wedding.” While most people have napkins printed, Gardner didn't stop there. He designed matches, rulers, paper memorabilia, pencils and more to commemorate their union. Gardner reveals the story behind the floaty pen design.
“My wife, Tasha, and I had custom floaties for our Aug 9th, 2003 wedding. Custom as in we composed our own art work using a lot of symbolic and crazy unique content.”
Left panel: “A gigantic Stick bug moves past orange trees and an arbor of Wisteria against a backdrop of the mountains of Pasadena. Why? My stepson-to-be and I raised exotic insects together, when I wasn'tít wooing his mother. They lived in Pasadena. We had a lot of wisteria at our wedding.”
Right: A big lizard in a castle doorway, an Oxfordian banner and a friendly praying mantis. These symbols represent Gardner. “I've had some pet lizards, am an Oxfordian*, and we raised mantids together.”
The floater, from right to left: “Porthos, my stepsonís dog, the fairy (my wife, Tasha), the tennis player (my stepson Eric) and a cow for good luck (hidden in this scan). Tasha likes cows. The background is a body of water with a Maakies boat**, the city of Los Angeles on the horizon, a palm tree and a shelf lined with books inside the castle. Because Tasha, Eric and Porthos would be moving to my home in LA that has many books.”
The caption panel: “A quote from Shakespeareís sonnet 150. *Oxfordians believe that Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, wrote the works of Shakespeare. Tasha and I both enjoy Shakespeare, another of our wedding themes. **Maakies is a comic strip by Tony Millionaire, a favorite of ours. I really wanted our floaty to be like an opera of our life. I hope you enjoy it. Long Live Floaty Pens!”
I believe Gardner has succeeded. I am honored to offer this pen. Each buyer will receive a little surprise too. As for the Monks... they are off to a fantastic start. May their family float together forever.
This is a holy oldie... and a divine example of Eskesen's ability. The precision in which the apparition falls so neatly into the window frame, that's special. The detailing is also amazing. This pen was a trade from Miranda.
Pens Out and About...
There were zero media sightings... for this issue. Instead I have a long list of pen sightings to cover. Buckle-up. The list is long, but it's all good news.
I received a last minute email from Pennsylvania collector, Marisa Barna. “I have a cool pen sighting to report. Debbie Carriere found an awesome online pen source, from a company called 4Frontiers that wants to colonize Mars! They have an awesome Eskesen floaty in their online store. It features a Mars settlement with a Mars rover as the floater. It is a digital, but a very nice one. The barrel and clip are in chrome which gives the pen a sleek, futuristic look. Very nice indeed!”
The pens sell for $7.99 each and the shipping was $6.88 UPS Ground. “ I don't believe they ship internationally, so non-US collectors might want to collaborate with US collectors and split shipping and handling. I ordered the pens for Debbie, Beverly B., and me. Debbie asked me to forward the info since I ordered the pens, but please give her the credit for the find when you write this up in the newsletter!” A big ‘Thanks” to Marisa and Debbie for their contribution. (Items no longer available; Removed link May 2015.)
Craig Wilson is one of my most... prolific pen scouts. When he isn't traveling, Craig is scouring the web for floaty pens. In April, Craig and wife Terri, ventured from their home in California to Boston and continued on to NYC. “The Boston trip was a blast. When Terri first shared her wish to travel to Boston to run THE Marathon, I was less than enthusiastic. She finished in 4 hours, 22 minutes and 45 seconds, coming in 16,264th out of 20,646. Not a record by some standards, but hey, she still beat more than 4000 people! I was awed and amazed.” (Craig, I am sure everyone reading this will be equally impressed. Way to go Terri!)
Craig began his hunt... “I was a little conservative when buying pens to trade. The Old North Church pen (available online) was for sale in both digital and photoramic versions. I hadn't paid much heed to the difference up to now, but it really shows up in this pen. The detail is so much nicer in the photoramic.”
“Unfortunately, I didn't pay such close attention at the USS Constitution Museum, as they had both as well, and I mostly came away with digitals. But they also had a pen I hadn't heard about, featuring the nearby Bunker Hill monument. That was a pleasant surprise, and added another vertical design (my preference) to my collection. ”
“In Concord, we had a picnic lunch at Thoreau's old haunt, Walden Pond, before hiking back into town to see more sights, including the Alcotts' Orchard House. Luckily, they had four or five pens left, and I bought them all, so it may be a while before they're available online again, unless they found more in storage.”
“I've collected several of the Museum of Fine Arts pens over the years, so I was expecting big things from them. At their mall outlet store, I found a couple of their older designs, which I've already traded.
Their museum gift shop was a bit of a letdown. This digital, from a former exhibit, Americans in Paris, 1860-1900, was the only design available. I did buy a few to trade.”
Terri and Craig pushed on to New York City. “Riding the Amtrak Accela into NYC for the day was a kick. We saw the revival of Sondheim's musical Company, which was fantastic, and hit a couple of museums in the Central West End.”
“The NY Historical Society didn't disappoint, and I bought both of the pens pictured right. Skating in Central Park and Bear Dance are both available in their online store for $3.95 each.” Order direct (Pens long gone!; Link removed May 2015)
Digitals were the order of the day. Old stand-bys that have been digitized were all that was to be had in the Times Square shops. I didn't buy many of them.
“We also visited the Museum of Natural History. I bought several pens, all digitals, no extras to trade. There were some reissues of their dinosaur-themed pens (with reworked caption panels) and a couple I hadn't seen. Like the two pens pictured below. One has unicorns and the other features dragons. What either have to do with natural history is anybody's guess! ”
“One of the things Terri and I wanted to do in New York was to ride to the roof of Rockefeller Center, or the Top of the Rock, as they call it. We'd seen the city from the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center on our last visit, obviously some years ago. As luck would have it, we had the time. So, we rode the delightfully cheesy elevator with video projections visible through the transparent ceiling. From the observation deck, we headed up to the 70th floor, the absolute top. It was worth the trip, with a panoramic view of the city. Since 1943, large glass panels have been added, giving you a more secure feeling without restricting the view.”
“Their custom site-specific float pen was the crowning touch. It's a digital, available only in the C-top style. At $6.25 a pop, it is a little pricier than most. I'm sorry to say I didn't buy any to trade. The floater is from a historic photo, featuring a group of workmen sliding across a construction bean. I have to assume the gift shop would ship them for a fee.” Top of the Rock Gift Shop, 30 Rockefeller Plaza Concourse, New York, NY, 10112, Phone #212-332-6580.
Thank you for the scans and information Craig! For more details, you can reach Craig via email at email@example.com or visit his trading post http://home.comcast.net/~floatnik/.
In March, Tone Helen Hanken... of Norway and Biggy Kuhn of Germany netted this online catch. They were both very impressed with this set and thought you might be too. Four artists have each captured a commissioned art work into a floaty pen. The four pens combine to become the first offerings in the This is not a pen series, which aspires to be a gallery in your pocket.
Tone actually forwarded several scans and background material to me. Thank you Tone. I truly appreciate your efforts. I worked on the scans and had them ready to post when I stopped to explore the source's website. At that point I realized a link to their site would be the most productive tool. www.thisisnotapen.org. For a better understanding of what this series is all about, be sure to follow the links provided to the introduction and then edition pages. The production date would indicate they are photoramics. Tone and Biggy warned both warned me that the set was rather expensive.
In the meantime, Craig Wilson found the pens and added a few remarks, “I guess the question really is, how much are you prepared to spend on a float pen? The website doesn't quote prices, but just out of curiosity I sent an inquiry. I hope you're sitting down. For each limited edition pen, in a display box, they want 15 GBP (around $29) plus postage and packing. There is optional insured priority mailing too. Holy cow. Really gonna have to think about this one.”
Coincidentally, Susan Eisen, in London has since had a meeting with one of the artists. There is a slight chance I may be able to negotiate a quantity buy at a better price. Are you interested? Even if they won't fit into everyone's budget, it's great to see new and inspired designs. Something to talk about and even consider.
I wasn't kidding... when I said the pens out and about list would be LONG. It's proof positive that floaty pens can be found in the USA. Just a few more to go! Last fall Nancy Nerenberg sent this set of three pens to me. She picked them up while traveling in Europe. In March, Miranda discovered an online source for the pens. There are actually two sets. One designed for girls and a set for boys (pictured). Each set comes in a paper box with a protective plastic sleeve. I will not be carrying these pens, but you can order them directly from the source. They offer 50 different products, all sporting fun and quirky graphic designs. (Pens gone; Link removed May 2015)
Lee Williams vacationed... in Key West, Florida. “I was really happy to find Key West is a great source for floaties. My favorite is the Hemingway House with a cat floating past the house. Other tourist sites had pens as well. Key West is one of the few places I have had any floaty luck recently.”
Between work, gardening, folk dancing... and maintaining her massive float pen collection, I don't know where Miranda finds time to relax. Dik caught her taking five with her bunny, Flappy. Just before posting this issue, I contacted Miranda to get her current count. She now has whopping 11,000+ float pens. Way to go Miranda! You deserve some break time.
Craig Wilson contributed so much to this issue... when he asked me to include this plea, I was happy to be of service. Craig is looking for this design in a float pen or key chain. “If you know of one to be had, I'd very much like one. My family had their last reunion at this location a few years back.” If you have any information, contact Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may know that Bill, Josh and I... recently vacationed in Oregon. We found ‘Ski Utah’ and ‘Salt Lake City’ pens during our stop at the Salt Lake City Airport. It was a good sign. We arrived in Portland the afternoon of the 19th. We couldn't wait to sample Portland's transportation system. MAX, the light rail train, delivered us just four blocks from the Mark Spencer Hotel. We spent our evening exploring our immediate neighborhood via trolley and foot-power.
The Made in Oregon store at 921 SW Morrison (503/241-3630), had a digital version of the 'Beautiful Oregon' pen and a photoramic featuring the MAX (pictured).
We chose our hotel based on it's proximity to Powell's Bookstore. It was an excellent choice and Powell's soon became our favorite hang-out. They had many store souvenirs, but sadly, no float pens.
Friday Bill rented a car for the weekend. Our first destination was Multnomah Falls, the number one tourist attraction in the area. It was amazing. I saved the gift shop for last. They had a few older pens and the digital floaty pictured left. The flowing water and the bridge are the floater. Believe me, contrary to the artwork, the bridge does not actually rise and fall. What a hoot... I purchased several for the New Arrivals list.
Our day trip continued on to the Bonneville Damn followed by a cruise over the Bridge of the Gods which ushered us into Washington State. It was getting dark when we blew through Vancouver, WA and turned back to Portland. The older designs I found through the day are already on my pen list.
It was Friday night before I managed to get the laptop operational. I promptly deleted all the emails in my inbox. Not intentionally, just a case of moving too fast and striking one wrong key. Please check your sent box. If you emailed a message to me between Wed/April 18 and the evening of Fri/April 20, please resend. It was lost.
Saturday was devoted to the Saturday Market. After 37 years of doing art fairs in the Midwest and East, we were anxious to see how it's done in Oregon. Undaunted by persistent drizzle, we prowled the entire show. Arts and crafts on one side of the street, imports and new items on the other. We had a blast! The late afternoon rain finally succeeded in chasing us indoors. We enjoyed a hearty Irish stew at Kell's Irish Pub, just a few blocks from the market. No pens!
Sunday Josh's cold got the better of him so he stayed under the covers all day. Bill was determined to see the Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville.
I may not be crazy about airplanes, but even I could recognize the quality of the facility and the exhibits. The gift shop offered a digital Spruce Goose floaty. Sorry, I did not purchase them for the newsletter. The clerk said they do ship. The pens were $3.99 each. Call 503/434-4180.
Our next stop was the small but impressive Oregon Coast Aquarium. No pens to be found, but I smashed several pennies. On our way back to Portland, we traveled the coast line, stopping at several scenic view points. By the time we reached the hotel, Josh was looking and feeling much better. We had hundreds of photos to share. Monday morning we took a ride on the the OHSU tram. The same tram that was captured in a FloatArt design a few months back. The tram was super cool!
Monday afternoon my guys toured Chinatown and Oldtown while I met with collector Oma Walsh at the World Cup coffee shop, inside Powell's Bookstore. This was our first face-face. As expected, Oma was delightful. She really knows the inside scoop about Portland. Her husband, Larry, is a teacher. After work, he joined us.
I brought a few floaty pens for Oma. She presented each of us with an official Red Cross first aid kit. She has worked at the RC for several years. Oma also sent me home with a beautiful clock created by a local artist. These gifts will serve as pleasant reminders of our trip and an extra special lady. I truly enjoyed our meeting. The next time we will have to allow more time to visit.
Tuesday we strolled in and out of the shops in Nob Hill. Too late that evening, we crossed the river and entered the Hawthorne area. I didn't find any float pens in either neighborhood. The Oregon Zoo and the Japanese Gardens consumed Wednesday. I was sure we would find pens at the zoo, but not so. We were so taken with the funky flavor of Hawthorne, we spent the better part of Thursday there. Our evening hours were spent packing for our departure on Friday. At the last minute, I found a digital pen at the Hudson News store, inside the airport. It was a generic sailboat design with ‘Oregon’ stamped on the barrel.
Portland did not disappoint. The terrain was plush and rich green. Their transportation system is awesome. The city is clean and it's residents environmentally aware. We found the natives to be extremely gracious and helpful. As visitors, we were all very impressed. This city certainly rates a return visit. Without hesitation, Josh, Bill and I would highly recommend Portland as a vacation destination. You will find float pens.
Pen Past and Future....
In between newsletters... I managed to post a few pens on eBay, but I do not currently have any auctions in progress. Releasing this issue will stir a lot of activity. When things calm down I will post again. So where are the duplicates? No, I didn't run out of them. To get ahead of the postal increase I had to rush this issue. There just wasn't time to get any duplicates scanned.
This time there will not be any reason to delay shipping order to wait for pens to come in. All of the pens listed in New Arrivals are here and ready to go. The three designs that arrived late for the last issue are still available. They are listed at the bottom of the new arrivals list. I am confident new designs will surface in time for the next issue.
On the homefront....
The geothermal installation... remains unfinished. Way back in February the holes were drilled. Before we left for Portland we scheduled the crew to come in this week to finish-up. We'll see. Assuming the system gets installed, we will have affordable air conditioning this summer. At least that's the plan.
Issue #57 would post... around July 10th, but that is so unlikely. Bill and I applied for five different art events. We were accepted to all of them. I will not be available Sat/May 19-Mon/May 21. The Wyoming Art Fair, held in a suburb just north of Cincinnati, OH will be our first event. A trip to that part of Ohio isn't complete without a stop at Jungle Jim's. JJ is a giant international grocery market that has been featured on the Food Network. We will spend hours there. If time allows, Bill and I like to stop at the big antique mall in Springfield too. I will be back in the office on the 22nd. The month of June will be dedicated to production.
I will continue to scan duplicates as I can. I bet you are going to be very busy too? We are all about to enter the graduation-wedding-reunion-vacation season. As long as it's warm, that's fine with me. Besides, spring and summer are the absolute best season to hunt for floaty pens. I look forward to your reports and updates.
Between Bill and I, we took over a thousand vacation photos. I browsed through them very quickly and chose a few pix to share. This is a glimpse of the zoo, gardens, architecture and some of our favorite spots. And on that note... it's time for me to cut the chatter and send email notifications to everyone. Thank you for listening.
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11 am - midnight EST)
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