Float About #60... © Copyright Mon/May 19, 2008
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors

The Dead Zone has ended... it is truly spring. California collectors are complaining about the heat. Ohio is getting too much rain. We are right on track. Rejoice. It is officially float pen hunting season. Several collectors have reported findings. Pack your bags, 2008 is off to a great start.

Pens Out and About...
Graham Jacobs returned from Hong Kong in March... with pen news to report. “I looked in many shops and other tourist traps in Hong Kong and found it hard to find pens. The Peak Tower and the International Airport Terminal 1 had pens. The name of the shop is Nobletime Ltd. Apparently they have other branches in the New World Centre, Tsz Wan Shan Centre and The Westwood. I did not visit those locations, so I can not confirm they carry pens. I did find a pen from the Avenue of Stars. I tried all the Museums, but no pens at any of them. I managed to find eight new pens for my collection. I hope this will help some collectors who are thinking of visiting Hong Kong. Regards, Graham.” Thanks for the update Graham! I am sure the information will be useful.

Beverly Broadstone had two pen scouts... looking out for her best interest in Hong Kong. Beverly's Mother and sister Edna returned to California on the 10th of April. Beverly reports, ”Edna brought back over 60 pens from Hong Kong and China. Twelve different designs in all. She is a wonderful pen hunter! The best of the bunch were from The Great Wall of China, but unfortunately, each pen in the gift shop had a bubble.” Edna is an educated scout. Knowing collectors are not crazy about bubbles, she used her discretion and bought just three of each Great Wall design. All three designs share the same caption panel.

Beverly went on to say. “I've always wondered if a pen from the Great Wall ever existed. In my twelve years of collecting, I had no knowledge of them. It's a real shame they all have bubbles. However, ALL of the pens Edna found were manufactured by Eskesen. Edna provided the name of the gift shops that carried the pens. There were the same stores Graham mentioned.”

Edna is so thoughtful. Knowing I am a fan of the Nightmare Before Christmas characters, Edna picked up a few precious NBC trinkets for me. Hong Kong has items we will never find here. I was honored. Apparently kindness runs in Beverly's family.

Regina Merwin, at OperaGraphics.com... tells me that Jack Keely is designing a new floaty for her. The latest pen will depict Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute. ETA is sometime in September. With a little luck, maybe sooner. Something for all of us to look forward to!

California collector Craig Wilson ... and wife, Terri vacationed in D.C. over Easter. “We had a great time. Did lots of walking in the cool air, saw some amazing things, and even found some pens! Here are the National Treasures I brought back.”

1) The Buck Starts Here (digital)
“This pen was mentioned in Float About in 2005. Marisa had gotten one in her Eskesen subscription package. It's from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

It was so cool watching the bills being printed with the different inks. We brought back one of the new $5 bills (now with purple color added), just issued last week.”

2) Washington D.C. Hiding Dollar (T&C/Slanted, digital)“On a similar note (sorry for the float pun), this has a $1 playing hide and seek in front of the Capitol building. We blew a whole morning getting in, but it was worth it. No site-specific pens in their shop.”

3) National Archives Experience (T&C, digital)

“Here, the first page of the Constitution floats over a painting showing
the Declaration of Independence being presented for acceptance.

We saw both documents at the Archives, but the painting is back in the Capitol building rotunda.”

4) Wash D.C. Cherry Blossom (digital): “The Jefferson Memorial shows up here, with the cherry trees in full bloom. It was a little early for the blooms; they should peak in another week or so, but it was still pretty. Again, no site-specific pens at the memorial.”

5) Smithsonian Nat'l Air & Space Museum SR-71 (T&C, digital, chrome barrel)

6) Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Rock Collection

“Didn't find much at the Smithsonian museums, considering how many there are, but these turned up. The first has the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, and a nice shiny chrome barrel. The rock collection, from their natural history museum, has an unusual transparent caption panel (foreground), preferable, I think, to the more common barrel imprint for these kind.”

“I found a couple of decent digital remakes of older pens. Also, the Democrat and Republican pens on your list. That's about it. We went to three different Potbelly Deli locations asking about their pen, but had no luck. The food was good, but the crowding of the lunch rush suggested that a picnic was the way to go.”

And there you have it! The scoop on the D.C. floaty scene. Craig bought duplicates to trade. Visit his website to see available designs www.FloatsVille.com. This coverage appeared in Float Along. I touched base with Craig just before posting FA. He still has a few #1, #3 and #5 to trade.

James Lamoureux uncovered another... floaty find online. This Eskesen Twist n Click is a digital design. The caption panel is borrowed from the Union Pacific website. You can see the artwork there. It includes a locomotive moving through a wooded setting. The pens sell for $4.50 each, but I did not travel all the way through their shopping cart to determine shipping. You may order directly from the online Union Pacific store. Thanks James!!! (Link defunct; Removed June 2015.) BTW... In issue #59 James provided a source for Young Frankenstein pens. Marisa Barna ordered the pen and she said it is “awesome”.

The Oregon RFID sells... RFID equipment for tracking fish and wildlife for scientific research. They have two custom Eskesen floaty pens available. They were designed as a promotional item. Each customer that purchased equipment would be given two pens. Well, the word got out and a few floaty pen collectors inquired about availability.

Warren Leach was kind enough to supply a link to the company website. The first pen ($8) has an actual RFID tag with a 64 bit unique identifier that can be read with a low frequency reader. That has to be a first! What a unique concept. The second pen ($5) looks the same, but instead of an actual tag, it has a picture of an RFID tag. You may order the pens directly from this link. (NOTE: link defunct; Removed June 2015.) They will not be offered on my website.

Craig Wilson purchased the pen with the actual RFID tag in it. “That RFID pen's pretty cool. I bought a couple and sent one to an old friend who's in that very trade up in Eugene, Oregon. He mostly deals with the higher frequency RFIDs, doesn't have any equipment to store to or read the lower, but was intrigued with the idea. And it was great reconnecting with him.”

From April, a Chicago-Denver pen report... compliments of Boston collector, Doug Yeo. “My recent travels brought me through Chicago and Denver airports. Bad and good news. In Chicago, there were floaty pens galore but they were all made in China. Bright colors but cheaply made, poor images and stubborn floaty action. Denver was more promising, with several new digital image pens by Eskesen.” Much appreciated Doug! One of the new Colorado designs is on my current New Arrivals list.

Pen Displays...
I have a friend of a friend... that is doing a major housecleaning. She has several wooden display units for sale. I know how hungry collectors are for displays. I promised to let everyone know about them. They were custom made in 1993.

Mary is hoping for buyers in the USA as the displays are very heavy. Mary consulted a woodworker that specializes in custom work. After careful examination and consideration, he proposed pricing. The long oak unit will accommodate 28 pens. There are foam insets under the wood. It measures 17 inches long, by 7 inches high and 1 ½ deep. The weight is just 1 pound. The price is $75, plus shipping. Only one unit available.

There are 5 terraced units available. Three of them are fashioned from walnut, two are made of a lighter hardwood, likely maple. The length of each display is 9.25 inches, depth is 5.25 inches, height is 8 inches. Each terrace is a separate piece of wood. Terraces are joined together to create the unit. Each of these displays will hold 84 pens. Weight is 4 pounds per unit.

Walnut Display

For those of you that have a woodshop and tinker in the trade you might say “I could make any one of these displays for half of that!” I suppose if you have the time and know-how, you could.... so why haven't you?! I am guilty of that myself. I spend hours designing and thinking about making displays, but they never get made. For those that do not have access to woodworking equipment, this might be just what you are looking for. If you have done any research, you know pen displays are hard to come-by.

Prices: $125/walnut or 3/$325;
$110/maple or 2/$200.
Purchase all 6 displays for $550 + shipping;
$500 if you can pick them up.

If you think the displays look huge, refer to the measurements. They actually hold a lot of pens with a small footprint on your desk or table. With that said, if you are interested in any or all of the displays please contact Mary Alton alton003@umn.edu in St. Paul, MN. She can answer any questions you may have and help calculate shipping charges.

Amazing eBay Stories...

Biggy Kuhn... is a dedicated and skilled float pen hunter. Her diligence is often rewarded. This vintage Beatles pen is now one of Biggy's most prized possessions. She actually won four identical pens in a single eBay auction. Biggy tells me these were the most expensive pens she has ever purchased.

She paid a whopping 150 British pounds. The pocket clip stamp includes 'Denmark' so we know this is genuine Eskesen design. Look at the skinny button on the clicker mechanism! Looks like a small metal cap on top too. Very unique. This is a pen that has been on my wishlist for a long time. I knew it existed, but I have never actually held one in my hands.

If that didn't blow you away... check this out. This fantastic floaty came from an antique shop in Germany. The seller found it in an old writing desk while preparing for an estate sale. The seller didn't know a great deal about float pens. He apologized because the pen wouldn't write. Biggy paid 53,50 Euros for this one. This is obviously a later version of the design above. Such a peculiar pen style too. The top of the barrel is different, almost chiseled. This is the first red button I have ever seen on an Eskesen pen. Biggy noted there isn't a floater either... so very odd. Congratulations to Biggy on all counts. I shamefully admit I am green with envy.

Something Special...
Biggy didn't say how... when or where she obtained this Heinz pen, but it was a surprise to me. This conceal/reveal version is presented in the C-Clip style. I can't be sure, but it appears to be a photoramic. The C-Clip style has only been in production for a few years, so this has to be a fairly new pen. Biggy is quite smitten with the enlarged images that the twist n click window allows. Super cool and definitely something special.

On another note... you should know that Biggy has revamped her website. Previously her site was in German, now notations in English have been added. www.biggyk.beep.de. Explore. Have fun and be sure to sign her guest book.

Collectors News...
It's a good thing Debbie Carriere... can find humor in her obsession. Debbie made an email confession, “ So I wasted all Saturday evening making little flags and poles for my pens out of shish-kabob sticks, white beads and address label stickers. It worked out really well, except for the countries where I have few pens, there's a throng of flags all mushed together.” Debbie proudly presented the prototype to her son. Son replied, perhaps condescendingly, “I can see that you are very excited. I'm happy for you.” Debbie laughed out loud. “Ah, well, we have to get our jollies somehow.” She is so right. I thought her time was well spent. The flags are cute and they certainly get the job done.

Heads-up everyone... Craig Wilson and many other collectors received this email over the last two weeks. Does it look familiar to you? “hello all friends,if you like swap, i have for you a lot of 15 nice pens from portugal,ok.i propose me and you send at same day, acord? please write soon to: paulo ricardo (plus his address)” Craig Googled part of Paulo's address (11 p.delgada) and got many hits for many different sites where he offers to trade unspecified goods, like phonecards, or asks for money. Depending on the site, his name is Paulo Ricardo, Paulo Vieira, Paulo Brasil, you get the idea. Craig and I both feel you should steer clear!

Finn-pen and Quilland... battle-it-out regularly on eBay, but that doesn't mean they are mortal enemies. Quite the contrary. Both of these collectors revel in the competition, but they manage to maintain a friendly relationship.

On July 22nd of 2007, Finn Sørensen and family visited the home of Eldor Gilje, aka Quilland. The Sørensen's live in Denmark. The Gilje's reside in Norway. 300+ miles (500+ km) stand between them.

Photo Left: Pannee and Finn Sørensen plus Eldor Gilje far right. Photo Right: Lisbeth, Oliver and Pannee.
Eldor's wife, Alvhild, at the head of the table and Finn.

There isn't anything quite like spending an afternoon with people that enjoy the same interests. Both of these men share an intense passion for float pens. They had plenty to talk about and surely there were pens to trade. Everyone had a great time. The photos tell the story.

Media Sighting...
April 18th, Craig Wilson asked if I had seen... Debbie Carriere's float pen movie on YouTube yet. I had not! The next day I received a surprise package from Debbie. It was a CD copy of the movie entitled Floaty Penthon. I don't know where Debbie gets her inspiration, but her ideas are delightfully executed and drenched in humor. Enjoy! (Sorry. Content has since been blocked. Link removed June 2015.)

April 4th Beverly Broadstone offers this excited... “OMG! Floaty Sighting! Jeopardy is on right now, and when they were introducing the contestants, one of them was named Mary McGhee. I remembered a Mary McGhee from Seattle. Do you remember her? I thought that there could be dozens of other women with the same name. I had to wait until after the commercial when Alex Trebek personally talked to each of the contestants to find out more about her background. He confirmed she was from the Sea-Tac area and said,‘You collect......’ and she finished the sentence by saying ‘floaty pens!’ She explained what they were and mentioned she had 700 pens in her collection. She also made a comment that her collection was small compared to those who have thousands. Alex Trebek acted as if he was a little doubtful of her sanity. Anyway, Damon just called to say he recognized her too! Mary McGhee wound up losing by $3. Wow! It was a real blast from the past.”

Less than an hour after Beverly contacted me I received a note from Carol Santos too. On April 15th Regina Merwin asked if I knew about the episode. To date all of the viewers are from California. Did anyone else tune-in? Of course I remember Mary McGhee. She was an active trader in the early days. I lost contact with her long ago. Probably a casualty of one of my computer melt-downs. Mary, if you are out there... please pop in and say ‘hello’. It's time to reconnect with the floaty community.

Australian, Susan Baker, couldn't wait... to share her news. “Next week (March '08) a crew from an Australian TV show called Collectors is coming to my house to film my pen collection! I feel like a bit of a fraud because I have less than 1000 pens, but they seem to think it's substantial enough. I'm not sure when it's going to go to air yet but I'll let you know. Hopefully I'll be able to send you some kind of copy of the episode so you can see what I've been doing with all those pens you send to me.”

That is exciting news! When the episode is released I will include a link. We might be able to watch it online. If not, I certainly hope Susan is able to send a DVD, CD or VHS copy my way. Let me assure you and everyone out there... 1,000 pens is a fantastic collection and quite an accomplishment. Wave your floaty flag high! I contacted Susan on April 21st for an update. The shooting went well and the episode will air on June 20th. Susan isn't sure, but it's possible the interview will be included in a magazine too. Stay tuned to Float Along for incoming news.

Victoria Birenbaum ... provided the latest media sighting. “ I am sitting here watching a new episode of Bones, which, if you haven't seen it, is a show about crime-solving based on forensics. The FBI agent and the forensic anthropologist opened a safety deposit box and found a gun inside. The FBI agent then used a pen to pick up the gun by the trigger guard. As far as I could tell, he was using a tip n strip pen with a blue barrel, featuring a couple of women (with their black dresses tastefully on). I couldn't see the top half of the pen, so I don't know if it was an older twist n click, or one of the new ones you mentioned in your newsletter, with a C-clip. I just thought you'd like to know.”

Yes Victoria! We do like to know. Thanks for sharing. I attempted to log-on to Fox Network's On Demand schedule, but the site was bogged down. You should be able to catch the full episode there. Otherwise just watch your listings for the rerun. I couldn't find the title of the episode. All I know is it aired Mon/April 28th.

Tips and Tricks...
Bill often teases me about my... project kits. Recently I have been cleaning large groups of pens from my personal collection. That means removing catalog tags, which is an icky sticky job. For this project my kit box includes: An Xacto knife, small cosmetic bottle with mineral spirits (turpentine), small bottle with rubbing alcohol, empty glass baby food jar, cotton balls and paper towels.

Tags are carefully sliced off with the knife. A generous amount of mineral spirits is dabbed on any/all sticky parts. In a minute or so the surfaces are hand buffed with a dry piece of paper towel. Process is repeated if needed. Sometimes stores wrap price tags around the pocket clip. The baby food jar is handy for soaking the clips in mineral spirits. Wipe them dry with a clean paper towel. Rubbing alcohol is great for cutting ink stains. For stubborn stains I soak a cotton ball in alcohol. The cotton ball should be wet, but not dripping. Place it on the stain and leave it for 5 minutes. Dry and repeat. If it doesn't totally remove the stain, it will lighten it.

Pens Past, Present and Future...
A couple of designs from ... issue #59 are still in stock. Just a few days after issue #59 posted, I received the Flagler College pen. It was James Lamoureaux that brought the pen to my attention. The college is located in St. Augustine, Florida. I had high hopes it would be a photoramic, but it is an early digital. If you happen to live near the school, visit their gift shop. Otherwise you will find the Flagler pen on my list.

There are a few photoramic designs on the new list. A few years ago Amy Bertsch, in Alexandria, Virgina told me about the Fort Ward and the Lyceum pens. In those days photoramic pens were so plentiful, I considered getting them then, but instead lost track. Recently James Lamoureau reminded me. There were only a couple dozen photoramic Lyceum pens available. I bought them all.

My eBay open/close day has changed. My auctions now begin and end on Wednesdays. I continue to offer duplicates and pens from my personal collection.

So where are all the duplicates? There are mixed into the Main List. I had hoped to have 100-200 pens scanned, but I just didn't make it. It's an extremely labor intensive task. I may have a better plan. I should scan and post 2-4 groups per week instead of waiting for the newsletter to post. I like the idea. Not so overwhelming for me and a few interim surprises for you! When we get the floor in I will make a serious effort to add pens to the list on a regular basis. I have so many to share.
FL/Beach Club Pen
As predicted, photoramics are quickly disappearing from the global marketplace. You will notice my new arrivals list is heavy with digital revisions. This will soon become the norm. The CO/Cowboy and TX/Cowboy pens are new. I hope to see more new designs over the next few months. This is one of the latest revisions from Jeff at Topline Products, Inc.

In a perfect world, Issue #61 would post the middle of July. We have a major conflict so that is an unlikely target date. Bill and I will be doing our first art fair of the season July 13th. We have shows scheduled about every two weeks through September 14th. We personally make everything we offer for sale, so for me, float pens have to take a back seat during the summer months. I will try to slip duplicates in as I can, but the next newsletter will probably be LATE.

On the Homefront....
Our Friday clay class is going well... but we have a lot to accomplish in our last two sessions. Bill is working on the potters' wheel. I am making miles of coffee-theme tiles to line our basement stair risers. This could take a long while. We are already considering signing-up for more classes next fall.

new cat

Longjohn is adapting well to his new family and surroundings. Unlike Kobe and Sylvester, this tomcat is a vertical thinker and mover. Longjohn flies through the trees like a squirrel. Here he is perched at the top of the freshly pruned apple tree. That goofy look is sheer happiness.

Three weeks ago Bill and I embarked on a long overdue home improvement challenge and it has consumed us both. Bill bought maple hardwood flooring to replace the lime green shag carpet in our living room. This is something we wanted to do when we moved in 20 years ago. Before we nail the flooring down, of course we had to paint, and paint and we are still painting. Two coats of primer, four coats of paint.

We are at least 2-3 days away from laying the floor. The project is running so slow we are both beginning to panic about show production. Luckily we have a healthy amount of inventory from 2007 on hand. We will need every bit of it. This is another reason I didn't have more duplicates ready for this issue. I promise to do better.

You are going to be so busy enjoying the floaty pen hunting season, you won't even miss me. I may have to resort to posting a short issue in August. We'll see. In the meantime, I will be sure to keep Float Along updated. I am anxious to hear about your travels and floaty finds.
Happy Trails to you!

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

Go forward to read Issue #61
Back up and read the Issue #59 from Fri/Feb 29, 2008

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