Oh how I have missed you! Thank you for thinking about me over the holidays. The cards that came my way were lovely and appreciated. By the time January 1st arrived I was so ready to dive into 2008. Has the New Year been treating you well? Have you been traveling or hanging close to home? Having decent weather?
Mansfield is still cold and white. If only for a week, I would love to escape to a warmer climate. There is something that puzzles me. While our winter days drag on and on, a month seems to expire in a matter of two weeks. How can that be? The only consolation is knowing spring is right around the corner. Are you looking forward to it as much as I am? Not everyone is so crazy about it. German collector, Biggy Kuhn, tells me they had a few days with spring-like temps. Her flowers are in bloom, but the air is polluted with pollen from the Hazelnut and Birch trees. Unfortunately Biggy is allergic to Hazelnut. I know many collectors, friends and family members that will suffer throughout the spring season. It just doesn't seem fair.
You probably noticed this issue was supposed to post mid-January? This dead zone has been the most dismal of all. I thought I could get my act together by February 14th, but on the 12th my computer took an electrical hit to the power supply. I was without a computer for the rest of the week. I was getting anxious about it. So, I set my sights on February 29th. A special leap year day calls for a treat. I hope you find issue #59 qualifies.
Follow-up to Issue #58...
Did you see Damon Zilly's... TV appearance? Damon was one of the first collectors that I came in contact with back in the mid 90's. These days Damon works in an LA barber shop. In October the History Channel aired an episode of Modern Marvels called The World's Sharpest. I finally caught the program in re-run. The Sharpest episode featured Damon giving a customer a crisp, clean shave with a straight razor. Damon did a fantastic job. Honestly, he has nerves of steel. I realize he is a professional barber, but he pulled it off without so much as a nick while the cameras were rolling. It was an impressive performance. Way to go Damon. Watch your local listings. It's an interesting episode, but Damon is the real highlight.
The staff at Eskesen... is forever busy promoting their products. January 29-31 Eskesen participated in an Amsterdam Trade Fair. Dutch collector, Miranda Wittebol, was honored to attend and photograph the event. So on this rare leap year day, Miranda and I offer you an equally rare glimpse of Eskesen in action.
This modern eye-catching display was designed to attract new clients in the promotional product market. I bet it worked. What a clever and striking presentation. The black panels make the colorful product graphics pop. Red carpeting is inviting and it speaks to the creative side of the company. Notice the open window displays? Nice touch. I wouldn't be able to walk-by without stopping to do some window shopping. However, not being able to get my hands on the pens would make it a frustrating experience. Miranda took a few close-up's so we could get a taste, now if we could only touch!
Yes, that is the coveted Toblerone pen on the bottom shelf. I get a lot of requests for that one. It's something I do not have in my personal collection. What fun it would be to fondle and play with all of those beautiful floaty products.
Marjan Baesten has been an Eskesen representative as far back as I can remember. She is truly an asset to the company. Over the years, Miranda has designed several floaty pens. Marjan has always been Miranda's contact at 'E'. This isn't the first or last time these girls will get together. Their business dealings lead to friendship.
A big ‘Thanks’ to Marjan for arranging Miranda's visit. Another ‘thank you’ to Miranda for sharing her fab photos. There were 280 vendors represented at this event, but I can tell the Eskesen booth was outstanding. Hopefully the company had a successful show and show season finale.
The Norwegian Pen Collectors... gathered the weekend of September 8-9th, 2007. The group had a custom floaty made to commemorate their 10th anniversary. In May their Board will decide what to do with the extra pens. It's possible the pens could be offered for sale or trade, but it is too early to tell.
If and when the pens become available, I will provide information in Float Along and Float About. This is one we don't want to miss.
In issue #58 I announced the opening... of Craig Wilson's new website. He has added some additional features. “New to my website is a live interactive window that displays the results of searching 'floaty pen' on eBay. It's in the area titled Floatsville Mall: (Sorry, feature page defunct; Removed May 2015.)
I received a great deal of assistance... from the floaty community for issue #59. Beverly Broadstone, Marisa Barna, Biggy Kuhn, Craig Wilson, Carol Santos and Doug Yeo are often contributors. This time, a newcomer from Colorado, provided a long list of pen sources. I continue to chase many of his leads. His name is James Lamoureux. We have been communicating for a few months now, but he isn't new to collecting floaty pens. James has an active website with a decent trading list: (Sorry, link defunct; Removed May 2015.) Stop in and get your trade-on. You will find his name and email address on the collectors/traders page as well. Welcome aboard James and happy trades to all.
Mimi Kolb, like the rest of us... is a big fan of floaty pens and a collector. She recently opened her website. Mimi earns a living as a talented designer/retailer. Her nifty gifts are packaged in the style of Japanese bento lunch boxes. Mimi has even created a box called Happy Travel that incorporates a floaty pen. So very kawaii! If you are in need of a unique gift for any occasion, check out Mimi's place. BentoBoxGifts.com. Mimi best wishes on your new venture.
Before I post an issue of Float About... I always contact Dutch collector, Miranda Wittebol, to get her current pen count. It's always an astounding number. As of Wednesday Miranda had 11,400 and more to catalog. Can one have too many pens? Miranda and collectors in her league would quickly reply “Absolutely not!” March 3rd Miranda will celebrate her birthday. Surely there will be cake and more floaty pens. Congratulations on both counts Miranda.
Regina at Operagraphics... intends to promote her opera pens in the European market. She asked if I knew the official translation for 'float or floaty pens' in Spanish or any other language. Personally I wasn't much help, but I have this amazing resource for just such information. I can always depend on my collectors. If you can provide the translation for any language, other than English... it would be appreciated. The list will be posted so we can all see the results. Heck, we might even learn something.
Shortly after issue #58 posted... Craig Wilson provided an update to what he calls, “A somewhat stale media sighting. If anyone wants to view the trailer from 2004's Fakiren Fra Bilbao, previously covered in Float About #50 (December 2005), they can find it at this site: www.trailerfan.com. The pen makes several brief appearances, and as the DVD still hasn't been released for American audiences (region 1), this may be as much of the film as some of us are likely to see. There is a link to 18 still photos as well.”
Amazing eBay Stories...
An old Esso pencil was featured... in the Something Special column of issue #57. It was an eBay win by Biggy Kuhn of Germany. Then in issue #58 two vintage pencils from my personal collection were featured. Once in a great while a collector will get lucky and net a real bargain on eBay. Some sellers are not so floaty-wise. They fail to use the right terminology or list in the wrong category. This result, their listings gets overlooked. Biggy was paying attention. Lucky lady!
Despite the bow between the barrel and floaty window, this is a sweet find!
Biggy scours the standard pen listings on eBay in search of treasures just like this. This Esso pencil was offered by an Australian seller. Biggy was fairly certain it was an early Eskesen. When it arrived she was amazed to see it was also bubble-free. Biggy consulted Kim at Eskesen regarding the age of her new acquisition. She received this response, “I think you hit the Jackpot this time. As far as I can judge from the picture, this is indeed one of the first productions from Eskesen.” Good catch Biggy!
It's true what they say about records... they are made to be broken. $224 is no longer the priciest float pen ever sold. Whether you are a spectator or player, eBay is where the action is. Finn Sørensen and Quilland continue to dominate the winner's circle. I was in shock when Finn procured a USPS floaty for $335. Then, just a few days later, he won this extraordinary Eskesen clicker. You can visit the link to see the details. (Link Defunct; Removed May 2015.)
To date, at $565, this is definitely the record breaker. I heard from Finn soon after his win. He sounded a little winded and even anxious about his purchase. However, he was very excited to have won this particular pen.
The outcome tells the story. To win his prize, Finn had to go head-head with another bidder. A bidder equally determined. So what is it about this pen that justifies such a hefty fee? It's a vintage photoramic Eskesen featuring magnificent conceal/reveal imagery. It seems to be in mint condition. The clicker style provides a nice package, but these features were just icing on the cake. The real appeal has to be attributed to the theme.
Finn is a Danish collector bursting with Eskesen pride. This advertising pen was created to promote Eskesen of Denmark. This item was likely distributed to clients or potential accounts. It is unlikely it was available to the public. That makes it a rare advertising pen from our favorite floaty manufacturer. Finn wanted this pen to return to it's rightful home in Denmark. He has succeeded.
As far as bidding and prices go, things have calmed down a little since then. I continue to post 12-14 pens every Monday. Eventually I want to move my open/close day to Tuesday or even Wednesday. My offerings include duplicates and many pens from my personal collection. It happens. eBay is like a playground. Play nice and have fun!
For collectors that are not interested in online auctions, there are still pens to be discovered in the souvenir market. The situation may seem dim right now, but as spring and summer approach, things will get better.
Pens Out and About...
Early in the New Year... I posted a pen from Buffalo Bill's Grave Site and Museum on eBay. It got a lot of attention. James Lamoureux was one of several hopeful bidders.
James lives near the Museum and for sometime has been trying to persuade management to bring back their fantastic Buffalo Bill pens. Right now the only floaty you will find at the Museum is the Red Rocks Amphitheatre design. I contacted the Buffalo Bill Museum and the manager was pleased to send pens my way. The Red Rocks pen is currently available under the New Arrivals category. When my supply is depleted, you may order directly from the site.
I confess I vertically crunched the front page of the brochure to allow for more detail.
If you find yourself near Golden, CO this looks like a Museum that would be of interest to any traveler. All of the information you need is included on the brochure. If you can't visit in person, their web address is included. Just in case you can't decipher that tiny type...
Don't hesitate to drop a hint to management about having Buffalo Bill pens made. I am not suggesting that you be a pest. A few subtle requests often get the ball rolling.
One more thing. I know there are several postcard collectors among us. The Museum has a supply of old-West style postcards featuring horses. There are at least three designs, maybe more, available through the Museum shop.
The very same James discovered a... Young Frankenstein floating brain pen on the Internet. The photos are dark and non-descript, but the words “Normal” and “Abby Normal” seem to exchange visibility. Or maybe one word is on the front and the other in the caption panel?! I can't promise they are Eskesen made, but I would say there is a good chance that they are. Ask before you buy. I would also inquire about the caption panel. The price is painful, $10 plus undeclared shipping and handling charges. For that kind of cash, I would hope the caption panel includes some reference to Young Frankenstein. Order here: (Sorry, link defunct; Removed May 2015.)
Remember the Lola Star link... to a Coney Island floaty pen that Alicia Delahunty brought to our attention? The pen was sold out when I posted issue #58. The pen is back in stock, but of course it is now a digital design. The price is $4, plus $3 s/h. The website photos are truly inadequate. The pen has detailed and colorful graphics. Order directly from http://www.lolastaar.com
Miranda provided a picture... of the new digital tip n strips. The models and their wardbrobes have been updated. Looks like a fresh silk or satin backdrop has been added. The hearts are new too. Since clickers have been discontinued, they are now in the C-clip style. For all the changes that have been made, the principle remains the same. The models are fully dressed until the pen is tipped and the clothes magically melt away. A slight tip in the opposite direction and the models redress. The conceal/reveal mechanism in the tip n strips is as amazing today as it was in the 50's. What do you think? Does the digital imagery stack up to the old photoramics? In my opinion, these are a big improvement over the artwork we were seeing a year ago.
Erika Lam Radtke had some great news... for collectors in the D.C. area.“ If you buy a sandwich at the popular sandwich shop, Potbelly Sandwich Works and pay with a credit card, they will hand you one of their Potbelly floaty pens for you to sign your credit card slip. They're for use in the store and not for sale, but I managed to cajole the manager of the store I was in to give me one. It has a little potbelly stove that floats up and down.” If you are in the area, act fast. No way to tell how long this promotion will last. Erika contacted me on Jan 26th. The information above was included in Float Along, but I know many of you missed it.
Florida collector, Tina DeSalvo... is happy with her new storage system. “I found these little storage containers at Lowe's while I was looking for the ones featured in an earlier newsletter. I was able to buy them at my local store but they also sell them online. Each unit has three drawers and each drawer holds at least 60 pens. It's a perfect fit.”
“Now that I have the displays I need to get my booty in gear and update my list. I'm sure I've finally crossed the 1,000 mark, I just need to make it official. We took a recent trip to Victoria British Columbia and I found nine Eskesen pens new to me. I had to wade through quite a few of the Italian ones though.”
I think Tina is on to something. This unit is attractive, affordable and accommodates a large quantity of pens. Thank you for bringing this option to our attention Tina.
This is a major departure for me. I do not usually give non-Eskesen pens any attention, but this one warrants an exception. In November Beverly Broadstone brought this pen to my attention. She spotted it on eBay. Beverly and I are both HK fans from way back. I will admit, I was smitten, but it was a Chinese floaty. With shipping and handling the pen was going for $30. Even though I wanted the pen, the price tag made it easy for me to walk away.
My Hello Kitty pen was a Christmas surprise from Miranda. It's even cuter than I imagined. As HK steps behind the door, a little black kitty appears in the window.
The bottom barrel is red and stamped “Hello Kitty” in script. It is a naked twist n click with a red wire clip.
The pen came in a cellophane wrapper with labeling which credited copyright to Sanrio of Japan and included “MADE IN CHINA.” Since November, the price gradually decreased. I am not sure if this pen is still listed. Outside of eBay, I have no idea where they are sold. I am happy to have and hold this one.
Pens Past, Present and Future...
Several of the designs... introduced in issue #58 are still available. There are few new arrivals. I followed many leads, but only a few paid off. I actually expect one more design to arrive early next week. I purchased it sight unseen so I can't even provide a description. The minute it arrives I will scan and post. As tourist traps open and museums restock their inventory, I am certain things will go better in the next issue.
As for pens in the present... you have witnessed a massive drop in the number of pens available at Float About. Believe me, it disturbs me too. Less than five years ago I managed 750+ designs on my list. Those numbers have dwindled to less than 250. Many of those designs are now singles. So far collectors are not so enthusiastic about the digital pens. When I find new designs in digital I only invest in a small quantity. When a digital design sells out... I rarely reorder. There are a few exceptions. The Rosie the Riveter and Pirates pens have become permanent fixtures on my main list.
I continue to chase photoramic designs, but to buy them retail, with the intent to resell, is a rather expensive proposition. With purchase price, plus s/h and sometimes an added tax, the cost of one pen can be as high as $7. If I invest $7 in a design, would my customers be willing to pay $9?! Maybe, if it were a super design. Since my Float About income is essential to my existence, I have to invest with caution.
The floaty future is far from dim, it's just going to be different. Since digitals were introduced in 2006, photoramics are beginning to vanish. I predict that digital designs will outweigh photoramic pens for the 2008 hunting season. While the digital artwork has improved tremendously, many collectors insist on photoramics. For those with a fetish for photoramic pens, I recommend if you find one at a reasonable price... buy it! The clock is ticking. That goes for pens on my main list too.
If I ever made a deadline, Issue #60 would post at the tail end of April. It's questionable whether there will be enough news or new designs to make it worth while. We are not doing a show in May. Maybe I can pull something together by then. Check Float Along for updates.
On the Homefront....
The geothermal system we had installed... last spring is absolutely wonderful. Previously we were totally dependent on wood heat. It was an uneven heat that fluctuated between 60-63 even in the warmest rooms. We set the new thermostat at 67 degrees and maintains like a dream. Bill continues to burn wood, but now it is on a casual rather than mandatory basis. I no longer have to wear two or three layers of clothing in the house. We are very pleased.
Josh suggested that Bill and I... take a clay class at our local art center. The Mansfield Art Center is conveniently located less than two miles from our house. The class was so affordable. We talked ourselves into it. The 2-hour class is held Friday mornings for a duration of eight weeks. With three classes to go we have already decided neither of us will become professional potters, but we are having fun. We have developed a true appreciation for the ceramic process and a new admiration for dedicated potters.
The weekend of January 19th... our temperatures dropped to 6 degrees accompanied by high winds. We were getting ready for bed when I heard a cat howling at our back door. The cat bolted when I attempted to catch him. The next night he nearly jumped into my arms. We made every attempt to locate his owners, but no one came forward. The vet guesstimates he is about a year old. Because he is tall, thin and extremely long, he has been dubbed Longjohn. He has already worked his way into our hearts. LJ is slowly gaining acceptance with the rest of our feline pride. Life is good.
Everyone seems to be keeping busy through the winter months. Debbie Hoesly, in Wisconsin, is creating a craft room. Winnipeg collector, Debbie Carriere is building and painting soldiers composed of clay pots. Miranda is taking classes to further her career. How about you? Home improvement projects, vacations, new additions to your family? Are you finding pens in your travels? I look forward to hearing about your activities and escapades.
One more note before I sign off. As usual, orders will be filled on a first-come first-served basis. My next trip to the Post Office will be on Tues/March 4th. If you wish to reserve pens now and wait to see the mystery design coming early this week... that is AOK with me.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous and floaty rich leap year...
Hasta la vista...
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11 am - midnight EST)
Copyright © February 2008 FloatAbout.com