Float About #58... © Copyright Mon/Nov 12, 2007
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

With the holiday season... rapidly approaching I know you are busy. Me too. If I timed this right, issue #58 would post before the big rush. Even better, issue #59 will be ready to greet you early in the New Year. The clock is ticking. I will do what I can to keep this moving.

Follow-up to Issue #57...
I purchased the last available... English sample cases from Eskesen. They are in-house and ready to ship. This was a major investment for me, but I am sure the cases will eventually sell. At least they will find their way to collectors rather than dealers. The sample cases are listed under the Advertise Category. If you are interested in owning this incredible item, click this link for full details.

Early in October, Damon Zilly checked-in to say... that I had made a slight mistake. He wasn't a teenager when he got hooked on floaty pens. “I started collecting back in 1995, while I was attending college. It began with your newsletters. Trading pens led me to Beverly Broadstone. I can't believe I'll be 36 in January. I have been so focused on getting my business established in the LA area, I am just now starting to get back into collecting floaty pens again.” As one of my earliest contacts, Damon was around when Float About was distributed via snail mail.

Damon went on to share some exciting news. “In October I will be featured on the History Channel on the Modern Marvels program. The episode will be the Worlds Sharpest. I'll be the vintage barber with the straight razor.” If you do not read Float Along you missed this announcement. Watch your local listings. I am sure the History Channel will re-run the episode.

Amazing eBay stories... follow-up. Finn Sørensen is the proud winner of both fantastic eBay auctions reported in the last newsletter. He now owns the spectacular vintage sample case and the saucy Dolly Parton conceal/reveal pen. Finn was under the impression that his identity was veiled in secrecy by eBay. When he realized they post the winner of each auction, he agreed to let me reveal his identity to the floaty community. You can refresh your memory with the coverage in issue #57, under Amazing eBay Stories.

Factory News...
Kim Rasmussen, at Eskesen... forwarded some new links that promote Eskesen products. They are packed with moving images designed to dazzle potential corporate and souvenir clients. The images are simply amazing.

When you arrive at each page you will find a variety of categories. Under each category you have language options. To fully explore the site, click the language of your choice under each and every category. You may have to scroll down a little to see the images. If a white block appears, be patient. Some of the pics were so massive it took as long as thirty seconds for the images to load. It's so worth the wait. I recognized some of the artwork from years back. Please, do not pester Eskesen about availability of the pens pictured. I can save you the trouble. The pens are definitely NOT available.

Media Sighting...
If you read Float Along... you have already seen this floaty fantasy. While surfing the web, Miranda Wittebol's boyfriend, Dik, encountered this gem. It's not in English and without sub-titles, but it doesn't matter. No words are needed. It's a short, sweet and funny film. If you use Internet Explorer you will have to scroll to the right to reveal the entire screen. The resolution is a lot better in the small format, but if you must, right click on the movie screen for a full screen option. Follow these steps to view this fantastic floaty film. (SORRY, link defunct; Removed May 2015.)

Pens Out and About...
Alicia Delahunty sent the most recent... floaty design from Cleveland's Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. I thought I would buy a quantity of them for this issue. Frankly, when it arrived I found the design to be uninspired. With all the creative talent available to the R&R Hall of Fame, the artwork just didn't strike a chord with me.

Even so, I know some of you will want this Eskesen naked twist n click for your personal collection. I visited the website. The pens are not included in their on-line catalog. There are contact links posted. I am fairly certain if you call or email, you can arrange to have a pen shipped. (Pen sold out!)

Shortly after issue #56 posted... Alicia Delahunty shared a link for a Coney Island floaty pen. The pen sells for $4. Shipping for one pen is $3. http://www.lolastaar.com. Alicia tells me she encounters this same pen on eBay from time to time. The website photos are truly inadequate. The pen has detailed and colorful graphics.

Catherine Potter attempted to order the pen, but it is sold-out. Keep the information handy. Catherine was told the pens have been reordered and should be available in three months. Thank you Alicia and Catherine!

Operagraphics has a new addition... to their float pen collection. This floaty features Brunnhilde in the Ride of the Valkyrie (or Walküre). Sorry, I will not be offering this pen for sale. Do not despair. You may purchase this beauty, as well as many other opera-themed floaty pens, directly from Regina Merwin's website.

Regina's daughter, Amelia, is the new webmaster at Operagraphics. She is in the process of giving the site a facelift. Many pages have already been nipped and tucked. If it's been awhile since you visited, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Minnesota collector, Sue Buetow shared her... new storage/display system with us in the last issue of Float About. Craig Wilson, in California, thought the same units might get his burgeoning collection under control. He purchased several units from Amazon.com for $14.72/piece, plus shipping and handling.

As Craig began filling the boxes, he discovered one major problem. Unlike Sue's cases, two of the drawers in Craig's units had twelve compartments, rather than six. So, two out of four drawers were not suited for storing pens. “I have located another vendor through Amazon that sells individual drawers for $2.97 each, plus S/H. The replacements are similar to Sue's six-compartment drawers, with slots for optional dividers. Since I replaced the drawers, the Plano boxes are working fine.” If you are going to purchase similar units via mailorder, establish that ALL of the drawers have no more than six compartments.

Craig went on to say, “I found larger Plano boxes in Missouri. They're deeper and wider than the others, so they won't fit in the red storage units, but they're close enough in style to blend in. I use them to store my multi-pen sets and pens on cards. On another storage note, I'm finding the Eskesen sample case tubes very handy for organizing my assorted whistles, keychains, and spare parts. It's pocket is great for magazines and other papers related to the hobby. I'm very happy with it at this point.”

On the same trip to the Saint Louis area, Craig noticed that Eskesen had updated their point-of-sale displays.

Eskesen boxes

Craig provided several pictures, but just before publication, Regina Merwin sent an actual box. Thank you both. Over the years there have been many variations, but we have been conditioned to look for pink/blue boxes. It's time to change our ways. This new box is quite a departure from the old. From the front, the new displays, appear to be primarily black. Not so! The sides and back are plastered with graphic pen-art images. Quite colorful and definitely an eye-catching design.

The blue/pink boxes are still out there. It could be years before they totally disappear. Just remember to look for the new displays as well. Traditionally point-of-sale displays are found near cash registers, but do not restrict your search. Don't be shy. Ask a store clerk about the availability of floaty pens. It helps to carry one with you for reference. Happy hunting.

Now for the BIG news. Craig has opened a super site. It's clever, cool and lots of fun. Take a virtual tour www.FloatsVille.com and be sure to check out his trade list.

Collectors News...
The Norwegian Pen Collectors... gathered the weekend of September 8-9th. Tone Helen Hanken submitted photos and background material. Additional photos were received from attendees Finn Sørensen and John Barmen.

The group collects advertising pens to include floaty pens. 78 members attended the annual gathering. There is some good news for Tone. She was honored to be chosen as the new treasurer for the group. Congratulations!

Finn Sørensen provided the picture of the C-clip floaty pen that was made especially for the event. Yes, of course it is an Eskesen.

The digital pen features a photo of the group. Årstein Gilje is the club photographer, pictured far left. The floater is a cake. Tone translated the lettering on the real cake... the delicious one! 'Advertise Pen Friends - 10 years'.

Every member will be issued at least two pens. At the next Board meeting, in 2008, they will know if there are extras to share.

After two days of pen chat, board meetings, pen trading and exchanging information, members took time to pose for one last group photo before going their separate ways.

These friends of pens have adjourned their 2007 meeting. Now the organizers can take a breath... but not for long.
There are preparations to be made for 2008.... and far beyond!

Miranda Wittebol to the rescue... of a man down-under. Miranda received an odd email request from Australia. A man was on a quest for a tip n strip lighter to be used in a play. He wasn't even sure such an item existed, but he included a picture of a tip n strip pen. Miranda knew the show must go on! She was quick to ship a lighter to Australia.

Karma was just as quick... to reward Miranda. She was casually window shopping on eBay. Because the pen, pictured right, was listed with a poor title and category, Miranda was the only one that found it! We were all blown away by the two crowned pens, belonging to Tone Helen Hanken. They were featured in the August #57 issue of Float About. This was a great find for Miranda. You can tell by the clip and tip it's vintage Eskesen. Miranda won the pen for the minimum bid of $9 and some odd change. This pen is now a point of pride in Miranda's massive collection of 12,200 pens.

It was time for celebration... and folk dancing in the streets. For years, Miranda and Dik have enjoyed their weekly folk dancing troupe. Early in September their hometown, Amersfoort, has a three day party with markets, music, dancing and sports. This is a clip of folk dancers at the 2007 event. I have had the privilege of meeting Miranda in person, but many of you have not. Towards the tail-end of the video you will see Miranda in street clothes. She has short dark hair, glasses and she is wearing a bright striped sweater. One of her best friends, Jeannette (in a red jacket), is her dance partner. This demonstration is designed to entice new members into their group.

Bill and I were not so lucky... on our trip to the Carolinas. It was a fantastic vacation, but we couldn't find a float pen anywhere. I was certain we would get lucky at Chimney Rock, but no go. To add insult to injury, our perfect Prius has been injured. A young woman driving uninsured and with a suspended license is responsible. Yes, our insurance will cover it. Whew!

By comparison, Craig Wilson's... summer travels were far more productive. “I spent a nice week in Missouri. Found some old standbys in the St. Louis area.” (1) A digital version of an older Frank and Jesse James design now in a twist n click style (2) A silhouetted skateboarder (Tony Hawks) floats in a digital C-top, showing off the newest rollercoaster ride at Six Flags St. Louis (formerly S.F. over Mid-America) (3) Bowling Hall of Fame & Museum has an updated caption panel (4) MO/St Louis/Museum of Transportation/Train. Thank you for the encouraging news Craig.

Float About celebrated it's 12th... anniversary in October. You couldn't be more surprised than I am. I never dreamed we would get this far. My collectors are to be credited for that and I thank you all. Your support and encouragement is really what keeps me going. Float on!

Something Special...
An old Esso pencil was featured... in this column last time around. It was a recent eBay win by Biggy Kuhn of Germany. These two pencils are both in my personal collection. Note they are similar and yet different from the one Biggy Kuhn owns?

The item on the left, with the lone oil can, is the earliest version. The Esso character was introduced later. The bullet shaped caps are a solid indicator that these are vintage pieces. You can't see the shapely clips, but they are typical of early Eskesen. Truly extraordinary.

Pens Past, Present and Future...
The Sabertooth Tiger and Mammoth pen... from The Page Museum is gone, but you can still take a virtual tour www.tarpits.org.

There are three... comeback pens on the new list. The Benchmark Group of Architects and Engineers commemorated their 25th Anniversary with a custom floaty pen. Nancy Nerenberg at FloatArt was the designer. In 2003, I had a handful of the Benchmark twist n click pens on my list. Thanks to Benchmark, this design has returned. In addition, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the clear Lobster pen from '03 are also back.

Finding fresh floaty pen designs... for the next issue will be a challenge. From design to production, everything seems to run in slow motion over the holidays. As always, I will do what I can, but leads often come from eyes and ears on the street. Please report your findings.

Amazing eBay Stories....
If you are looking for floaty action... eBay will not disappoint. There are many players, but Finn-pen and Quilland often exit with the prize. Many collectors have expressed their frustration. Like high priced real estate, for the majority of buyers, float pens are getting out of reach. Why? Primarily because photoramics are endangered species. Since they are no longer in production, collectors have gained a whole new appreciation for the old versus the new.

It's a simple matter of supply and demand. The photoramics I offer on my list and on eBay can not be replaced. To sell them under value is truly counter-productive. Especially when it takes every penny I make just to meet my monthly expenses. Even common photoramic designs are routinely selling for $12-$15 each. My list is built on photoramic pens for $3.75 - $6.50. My pricing is based on my initial investment and the rarity of the design. I still have many duplicates to offer, but I do not know how to price them fairly. If you have any ideas I am very open to your suggestions.

Over the last month I have received emails from several collectors that are concerned about my eBay listings. I appreciate your concern and feedback. Yes, I am very aware a few collectors are attempting to manipulate the bidding from behind-the-scenes. I also know there are sellers approaching my bidders and offering the same designs at reduced prices. I already have a list of names. At this point I am unsure what to do about it. I do have the option of blocking bids from any buyer. What would you do? If you have a bid on one of my items and another collector contacts you, please let me know.

Kathyrn M, a long-time customer, offered her 2¢ worth on the subject. “Since I have been dealing with Float About, you have ALWAYS had the best selection and fair prices from your website, and I always look forward to seeing what you have on sale. As far as what you sell on eBay, once you post, it's out of your control what happens. The demand and pricing is validated by the buyers, not so much the seller. That being said, if you know of some buyers causing ‘problems’ then maybe you should decide whether to block them out or not, but I wouldn't stop selling on eBay. Again, that is both the good & bad of eBay. (My husband calls it EvilBay) As a buyer, it's challenging, competitive, rewarding and disappointing all at the same time!! Maybe I am just too open and easy going and accept the idea that even as a serious collector, I can't always buy everything all the time. Though it really bugs me how high prices are, I still bid, just not as often, I can't afford to.” If you have thoughts on the subject... talk to me! In the meantime, I must continue to be diligent about posting 10 pens each week.

On the Homefront....
Minki, the most elderly... in our feline pride, has fallen. Wed/Sept 19th, we ran out of options to prolong the quality of her life. The hardest part was making the right decision, and of course the follow-through. Now that it is over, I am relieved. Her suffering is over. Minki crossed the 20 year mark last January. With all of her medical issues, Bill and I knew she was running out of time. Having Kobesan, Sylvester and Itsy Bitsy around eases my sorrow. Our Minki will be missed, but never, ever forgotten.

We wrapped up our art show season... Labor Day weekend. For Bill and I it was a successful summer. I participated in my first art/craft show back in 1968. Bill began his career as a professional woodturner in 1971. Neither of us chose this path. It called to us and we followed. From year to year we never know what a new show season will bring. 2007 was a winner. It's hard for me to believe in January we will schedule our 2008 season... my 40th! That's our son Josh in the booth. Poor guy. He has been doing shows since he was three months old.

Josh will be coming home for Thanksgiving. We are already making plans. How are you doing? Anything exciting going on? If all goes well issue #59 will post mid-January. Now you better get to the pen list. There are old duplicates mixed into the Main List and several new designs in New Arrivals. I will be waiting for your orders.
Thank you all! Diana

That's more than enough for now, but check Float Along frequently for news!
Go forward to read Issue #59 that posted Fri/Feb 29, 2008
Back up and read the Issue #57 from August 28, 2007
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FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
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