Float About #65...
© Copyright Mon/Feb 22, 2010
a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to Eskesen floaty pen collectors
No need for concern... everything in Mansfield, Ohio is fine. I have been cleaning and organizing the mess that has accumulated in the pen room. The job is far from finished, but I will continue on a part-time basis. When I finally decided to dig into the newsletter, I encountered a few obstacles. I blamed the weather for my Internet problems. Three days later, with help from a tech, my Internet signal was restored. Reinstalling my mouse cured the persistent computer crashes. In the end, the three day delay proved beneficial. It provided time needed to secure a few new designs. Despite the fact we are deep into the dead zone, there are wonderful things happening in floaty land. There are so many links that are going to take you away from the newsletter, I have a suggestion. Read the entire text and then go back and hit the links!
Follow-Up from Issue #64...
I can't believe I forgot... to include the debut of Irene Skrybailo's extraordinary floaty pen in the last newsletter. Sorry Irene. Irene contacted me back in September with her fabulous news.
“The past few years I’ve been helping my husband out with his job without pay, doing anything ranging from web design to soldering to running to Fedex (putting that MBA to good use, haha). As a thank you my husband ordered a promotional floaty for the company, they arrived a couple of weeks ago. The company makes a digital video microscope stage used for scientific research. I’ll have a limited amount for trade, we do have to distribute them to clients. People can also get one with purchase of a unit (they run about $50k).”
“The pen features Dorothy Hodgkin, the founding mother of protein crystallography (our biggest client base). She won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Lenin Peace Prize, and was president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Hodgkin is what my nephew would call a righteous babe.
Irene's description.... “At one end there’s a cell (it looks like a blue steak) and at the other end, there’s a protein crystal. The floater is a three dimensional structure of some sort of molecule (I forget which one.. it looks like confetti. An image of Hodgkin, the dates and names of some of the structures of biomolecules she worked with are in the backdrop.)”
“Our salesman gave a pen to a research fellow at Schering-Plough/Merck (the guy who gave us the image of the molecule in the floater) who was so excited about it he asked for a couple more to distribute to coworkers and management. A few hours later, the scientist called Tom (our salesman) and said ‘You know there’s something floating in this pen when you tilt it?’. I can’t believe there are people who are just learning of the wonders of the floaties!”
Regarding the Youth pen at the Cole Museum... featured in the last issue of Float About. Three different collectors have informed me the pen has sold out. Sorry if you missed it.
Late November, Harris Lindenfeld... from Cazenovia, NY informed me of his upcoming trip to Denmark and Sweden. I knew he hoped to visit Eskesen. After all, how could a red-blooded float pen collector travel that far and get that close without a trip to the factory?! I hated to disappoint Harris, but felt obligated to tell him Eskesen discourages visitors. Not because they are cruel. Because they are manufacturers.
I get it! Our business is tiny by comparison, but during art show season, even a short visit can throw a monkey wrench into our production schedule. Eskesen is not zoned or licensed to do retail business. There isn't a pen store, just a modest sized factory situated in a small village. Despite my discouraging words, Harris communicated via email, “I will go to Eskesen tomorrow and knock on their door. If they turn me away, at least I will have pictures of the outside.” Yikes. I confess I was worried about his reception, but Harris persisted.
Wed/Jan 5th, I received a full accounting.... “I took a train from Naestved this morning, through Ringsted and Slagelse, to Store Merløse, a tiny town about 40 km west of Copenhagen. The baker, just a few blocks away from Eskesen, provided directions as terrific as her baked goods. I walked from there. A secretary responded to my knock at the door and the CEO, Thomas Olsen, came out to greet me.” Harris expressed his frustration regarding the lack of float pens in Denmark and Sweden. After three days of searching, Harris had found one float pen. “Mr. Olsen explained their major markets are in Asia (especially Japan), Eastern Europe and even Turkey. Today the company concentrates on big commercial runs of 200,000 or more pens.”
Mr Olsen excused himself as Kim Rasmussen, head of sales, appeared. Kim gave Harris a short tour. New machines perform assembly tasks previously done by hand, so there are fewer employees now.
“Eskesen is aspiring to be a high-tech outfit with just 16 employees, while producing a huge line of products. That's when I realized they really didn't have time for visitors. Thomas Olsen and Kim Rasmussen were both cordial and straight forward. They were as generous with their time as they could be. I came away with the sense that CEO Olsen and his company are headed securely into the future, with new ideas, new products and new markets. There's a lot to collect!”
My final update from Harris arrived early the morning of January 7th. Harris reported he finally hit paydirt! In a little shop near Central Station he found a variety of 16 Danish tourist pens and one advertising. The vendor promised to bring more pens the next day. A lucky day indeed. Harris began his journey back to the States on Sunday. Welcome home Harris.
Did you ever get your... Disney Fairy floaty pen set? If not, Beverly Broadstone has an extra set, mint in box, that she is willing to trade for 8 floaty pens. (Note: Set is long gone!)
Susan and Russell Eisen, from London... seemed to vanish from the floaty scene. I am pleased to announce their grand return. Susan dropped an email to say... “We're back! The pressure of having over 1,000 new pens to catalog was too much for us and we procrastinated for four years to get everything up to date. Anyway, we finally took the bull by the horns, and we are back in the collecting game. Sadly, our old website expired! Visit www.floatypens.org, our shiny new website. We still have a lot of plans for the page, but it is finally in a state where we can invite people in.” SusanRussell99@hotmail.com is their new email. I visited Eisen's new site and it is insightful, informative and fun. Stop in to give Susan and Russell a hearty welcome back to the floaty community.
Pens Out and About...
It all began with an October email... from a proud Bostonian, Doug Yeo. “I took a friend to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts where I am a volunteer. The MFA is not as large as some other museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City or the Louvre in Paris, but it has an excellent collection and is undergoing a major expansion that will open in 2010. The Museum's Gund Gallery is the site of major exhibitions that the MFA hosts regularly, and a new exhibition on Egypt, The Secrets of Tomb 10A, which opened on October 18 and runs through May 16, 2010. It is a stunning show, with artifacts from an important tomb from around 2000 BC that was excavated in 1915. As a bonus, you do not have to pay a separate fee to see this exhibition; it's included in the regular Museum admission. As is the case of many museum special exhibitions, when you exit, you end up in a gift shop that is devoted to the current exhibit. So of course I had to see if they had a floaty pen. The MFA has not had a floaty pen devoted to one of it's exhibitions since the successful Art of the Guitar show that ran in 2000-2001. So I was thrilled to see that the Museum has created a new floaty pen - a classic Eskesen - especially for this show.”
“The pen features the coffin of Governor Djehutynakht - a pair of painted eyes float across the panel and come to rest over the image of the mummy's head.”
Doug is so generous, I wasn't even a little surprised when he sent two pens my way. I was so impressed with the design, I ordered a quantity of them to release with the last duplicates list. A few of the pens are still available. You will find the Tomb 10A design on the New Arrivals list ($4.25).
For those just looking for an excuse to visit Boston, Doug had some great ideas. “Come to Boston to visit the MFA - and while you're at it, enjoy some of our other great things like a concert by the Boston Symphony, or a Boston Celtics game, or a cup of clam chowder on a chilly afternoon.” We'll be right over. Thanks for everything Douglas!
In issue #64 I mentioned Bill and I... were going East on business. I thought we would be flying to Boston, stay for three days and fly out. Bill was convinced driving would be less complicated!?! With this twist, I lost all interest in going along. However, somebody had to keep Bill awake at the wheel. This was not a vacation by any stretch of the imagination. Sunday, Oct 18th, we traveled all the way to Syracuse, NY. Of course I insisted on stopping at every third or fourth service plaza on I-90. By the time we reached Syracuse, we were beat and I had found zero floaty pens.
Monday, as we were nearing Boston, one of the last service plazas had a handful of pens in the old Boston Baked Beans design. Unfortunately, they were displayed in a sunny window. The caption panels and artwork had faded. Another plaza had some digital Old North Church pens. Because they were displayed immediately inside a doorway to the outside, every pen had a sizable bubble.
Our business meeting was scheduled for 10:30am Tuesday. As expected, everything in Salem was plastered with witches. After all, it 'twas the season. Our meeting ran a little long, but it went very well. With business behind us, we had a few hours (very few) to do some sightseeing. We had 45 minutes before our train would arrive, so I popped in and out of shops in Salem that I felt most likely to have floaty pens. I uncovered one design, a digital and familiar Faneuil Hall.
It was 2pm before we reached Boston's North Station. Bill was determined to tour the USS Constitution. I wanted to get in some float pen shopping. After a light snack, we separated and planned to reunite at 5. I systematically went through Quincy Market and the surrounding shops to no avail. I was confident the aquarium would have a bounty of floaties. The shop didn't have ANY floaty pens. Not Chinese, Italian, or Eskesen!
Bill had nothing but trouble making his way to/from the USS Constitution. Traffic was all tangled up by a movie shoot. To add insult to injury, the ship was undergoing maintenance and all the masts were dismantled. He called to arrange a thirty minute extension. I was amazed when he returned with two float pens from the USS Constitution Museum. The Bunker Hill pen is a photoramic! I am quite familiar with the design, but I assumed this old photoramic had sold out long ago. Sorry, he was fairly certain I had both designs, so he did not purchase extras.
This was Bill's trip so he was calling the shots. Our time was extremely limited. Bill asked me to ‘leave our options open’. He knew, given the opportunity, I would be meeting with collectors. I must admit, I was thinking... business on Tuesday, Wednesday would be reserved for fun. When we got back to the hotel Tuesday night we had a long discussion about what we wanted to do on Wednesday. We had one day to relax. The weather was holding and we were both getting anxious about being away from work. We opted to leave Wednesday morning and head for home with a brief stop at Niagara Falls. My only regret is that I didn't get to meet with Patty White, Doug Yeo, Nancy Given, family or anyone else during our Boston stay.
We reached Niagara Falls about 10am. It was windy, cool and overcast so we skipped the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds tours. There were so few tourists I felt like we had the place to ourselves. Many souvenir shops were closed, but I stepped into the Hard Rock Cafe long enough to check for pens. No luck.
This photo captures Niagara Falls and off in the distance you can see Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side. The Maid of the Mist is in the water.
This close-up is water pouring over the utmost rocky edge of Niagara.
The photo left features Horseshoe Falls.
This was an unexpected visit so neither of us had a passport.
As of June 2009, a passport is required to cross into Canada.
It was ok. When the wind wasn't carrying the mist our way, we could sneak up to the rail and take a few pics of Horseshoe Falls. It was spooky being THAT close with only a rail between us and the rushing water. The Falls are magnificent. The power astounding. If you haven't been... GO!!!
Victoria B wanted to share a source... that her friend discovered on their September 2009 trip to Alaska. I was surprised this photoramic is still available at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Victoria checked the Museum's website. The pen is not listed, but if you contact the Museum via email, snail mail, or phone... I assume you can arrange a purchase. Thanks Victoria!
Seattle collector, Sarah Watson, just unveiled her... first custom float pen. Sarah is a talented writer and designer. She has boldly ventured into floaty design. Nancy Nerenberg, at FloatArt.com assisted her with the order and design process. Sarah's client, Luna's Landing, has a refreshingly charitable approach to business. I borrowed this text directly from their website: “ Luna's Landing was established in 2009 to develop products which celebrate life, honor heroes and inspire those who face difficult journeys. We donate a portion of all sales to organizations who share our passion for assisting those needing help along the way. Come on in and explore our landing site!” I did. It was an uplifting experience.
Their round-top twist n click style floaty is available in black, pink or purple. The Luna's Landing floaty pens are $8 each. Visit Luna's Landing to learn more about their mission and buy their float pens.
If you wish to know more about Sarah, or you need her design services, just pop into her place in cyberspace... www.SarahWatsonDesign.com, or contact her via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan 31st Craig Wilson provided... a link to floaty pens he found on-line. Normally I wouldn't waste my breath on Chinese floaties, but these are cute as can be. The price is right too. There were six designs, but I see only five are available: Dirty Bird, Ninja Kitty, Owl Tree, Sushi Slide and Yeti Forest. (NOTE: Designs have sold out, but there is always a chance Gama-Go may have new designs.) Gama-Go.com. If you find yourself in San Francisco visit their store on 8th Street. Otherwise browse their entire on-line catalog. Super kawaii!
Mid-December I received a call... from Ned West at HDS Marketing, a promo company in Pittsburgh.
Ned called to introduce himself and tell me about the custom floaty pens he has designed for his clients. The phone call was followed by several emails with pictures and pen leads. Thank you NED! That is how I came to find the Zippo pens on the new arrivals list. The pdf (right) is a little squished, but you get the idea.
The Zippo pens are available on my list. I bought many to share, but if you happen to be in or near Bradford, PA, visit the Zippo/Case Museum Visitors Center and gift shop. The address is 33 Barbour Street, Bradford, PA 16701. http://www.zippocasemuseum.com, their on-line catalog, offers a variety of unique gifts.
Now for the icing on the cake. Ned was elated about a design currently in production for his client, DarkHorse. It's entirely possible you are too young to remember or even know about Bettie Page? Bettie was often referred to as the Dark Angel or Queen of Curves. In 1955 Page won the title of Miss Pinup Girl of the World. Her career ran longer and stronger than most in the industry. Even though Bettie rose to fame in the mid-fifties she still has a loyal cult following. Today she is as popular in Europe as in the USA. It's truly amazing her image hasn't been captured in a floaty pen before now.
The pens are not due for release until May 5th. I will place a pre-order to assure my collectors have an opportunity to own this celebrity pen. Reserve as many as you like now. The Bettie Page tip n strip pens will post to Float Along 24 hours after receipt for a nice price. DarkHorse.com will offer the pens for $12.99. They sell several Page items and have many new items in-the-works. The pens will also surface at a number of retail outlets. I will keep you informed.
If you are curious about Bettie Page, Wikipedia.com is a good place to start. A Google search will deliver you to the official fan club and numerous sites that are devoted to Bettie's life. Her story is stormy, surprising and fascinating... much like Page herself.
Recently, Nils Alisch, from Germany... had his collection featured on ComicBooth.com. The link will take you to the feature and a picture of his entire tip n strip collection. The models are displayed dressed and undressed. Nils is always looking for new tip n strip designs. Do you have any to trade or sell?
California collector, Victoria B... first reported seeing a floaty pen in 20 Century Fox's TV series, Bones, back in Issue #61. In the program, Dr. Brennan, affectionately known as ‘Bones’ is played by Emily Deschanel. Her partner, David Boreanaz, performs the part of FBI Agent, Seely Booth. Together they investigate and solve murders. Victoria noticed that Agent Booth always carries and uses a photoramic clicker style tip n strip. She thought it looked like an Eskesen. Her tip prompted me to pay closer attention. Victoria was so right.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from Ian, the propmaster on the set of Bones. Ian was having difficulty locating a source for David's floaty pens. Eskesen discontinued the clicker style in June of 2006, about the same time they switched to digital imagery. Ian was surfing the web when he came across Float About. I was shocked to discover how few clicker style tip n strips I had in-house. I shipped as many as I could spare.
The cast members of Bones celebrated their 100th show on January 28th. The program, now in it's fifth season, continues to grow and gain new fans. With any luck the series will continue for many seasons to come and the Eskesen tip n strip will remain Agent Booth's signature pen. Watch closely!
Craig Wilson reported... “I just found a video on YouTube featuring the strange Nardwuar, interviewing Kathy Griffin and Lily Tomlin. Right around 8:30 (eight and a half-minutes into the video), he presents Kathy with his personal tip n strip pen. The moment is over within 30 seconds, but there's a good close shot of Ms. Tomlin examining the pen. Another brush with the famous!” YouTube Griffin & Tomlin interview. “And if that's not enough, there's another clip from a different angle, taken by Kathy's Life on the D-List crew. Here, more tightly edited, but appears around 2:45 -- (you may have to cut and paste this link into your browser)” Second view. The Nardwuar design is by Nancy Nerenberg at FloatArt.com. Nice catch Craig!
Craig also discovered two different... IPhone apps that will surely be of interest to pen fans. Both apps feature tip n strip imagery to be used on your IPhone or IPod. How cool is that?! You can see the actual art by visiting these links... (Sorry, links now defunct; Removed June 2015.)
News from Abroad...
Feb 2nd, Eldor Gilje... emailed to say he had fallen on the ice in his farmyard and broken his ankle. He had six more weeks of crutches to endure. I don't think he is enjoying one minute of the forced down time. While dad is out of commission, his son will be working double time. I did get an update a few days ago. His ankle is healing well. Best wishes for a speedy recovery Eldor!
Remember the famous French.... floaty collector, Mr. Mahfoud Zanat? For many years he was considered a treasure by the folks at Eskesen. Mahfoud was one of the earliest collectors to take his collection to the max. He inspired many others. Mr. Zanat also designed and produced several custom designs. I was elated to hear Mr. Zanat purchased a home. That was about four years ago. I was surprised when he disappeared from our floaty world. It was about the same time Eskesen had a change of ownership. I was unsure what happened to Mafoud, but the mystery has been solved.
A few weeks ago I received an email from Mr. Zanat. Seems that four and a half years ago his computer died. He was totally entrenched in home renovation, but now their work is finished. He has purchased a new computer and restored his Internet connection. He also tells me, “I am aged, I am tired, I can no longer travel, but I am in good health.” He is in good company. It was so good to hear from Mr. Zanat again.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Mafoud's designs, I scanned a few samples. Mr. Zanat designed a number of collectors pens and others to honor Eskesen. There have been many designs, these are two of my favorites.
A twist n click created to ring in the New Millennium for Eskesen and collectors.
Pictured right: French collectors group commemorated in 2002.
I do not feel comfortable posting his email without his express permission. Until then, I am relieved to know Mr. Zanat is well and still passionate about float pens.
Considering the US economy.... I was curious how Eskesen did at the annual trade show in Las Vegas. I couldn't resist asking Kim. He had encouraging news. “The Vegas show went very well. Despite the crises and the overall visitor number being down, we maintained our number of visitors at the same level as previous years, which is very satisfactory for Eskesen.” Reassuring for E and float pen collectors.
Norwegian Collector, Tone Helen Hanken... has prepared photos from her September trip to NYC and a later jaunt to Serbia. This is one of my favorite NYC shots. Tone is in the white jacket, standing far left. I know Tone shared her pics with everyone on her email list. If you would also like to see her photos, contact Tone directly at email@example.com. OR, I can forward a copy of the email I received from Tone. Her photos provided my first glimpse of Serbia. Tone is looking forward to a return trip to the USA with her boyfriend, Steinar. For now, it is just a dream. I am confident it will come true. Keep us posted Tone.
Pens Past, Present and Future...
The President Obama pens... have been restocked and the new First Lady, Michelle Obama pens have been added to the New Arrivals list. Duplicates from the last issue have been mixed into the Main List.
Most of the pens on the new arrivals list were purchased at retail, so they are a bit more expensive than normal. I only wish I had more to offer! If you want to hold pens in reserve until the duplicates post, that is AOK. If you are interested in the Bettie Page pen, I am going to charge $9.25 each. That leaves a minimal profit for me. For you, it's a better price then you will find elsewhere. Please reserve your Bettie pens ASAP.
Robert Henry told me about a cool pen... from a museum in Mars, PA that includes a flying saucer. I checked with Marisa Barna to see if this design was already being traded. She was very familiar with the Mars pen and confirmed it's a super design. I arranged to buy 30. Hopefully they will arrive this week. Sorry, I will not have a picture until they get here. I can't even calculate how much to charge for them until they reach me. Robert and Marisa are great scouts and provide many leads. Thank you both. Your help serves us all!
Lupita Vargas, at Topline Products Inc... has been doing some house cleaning too. She set a number of pens aside for me. I received them about a month ago. Going through the pens was a real treat. Many of the pens Lupita sent were in multiples and they will be included on the upcoming duplicates list. As soon as the newsletter posts, I will resume scanning. I intend to have 200+ pens posted no later than March 15th.
Yes, I will implement the lottery system. The majority of my collectors prefer the lottery process over first come - first served. Majority wins. My distributors and my collectors keep Float About alive. There will come a time when my photoramic pen supply is totally depleted. Enjoy the bounty while it lasts.
After months of deliberation... Bill dropped his credit card merchant account. The fees were simply ridiculous. Most of our invoices are paid via PayPal, check or money order. Since we can both accept credit card payments through PayPal, even if a customer does not have a PayPal account, Bill can no longer justify maintaining the merchant account. When we set-up at art fairs I think we will feel the pain. Our patrons are addicted to the convenience of credit cards. If we experience a serious loss of income, Bill will have to shop around for a new service provider. For the foreseeable future, I will not be able to accept credit card payments outside of PayPal.
On the Homefront...
I received many beautiful holiday cards.... and I thank you all for that. I am still in shock when I see '2010' on the calendar. Has the New Year been good to you so far? Are you having crazy weather? The snow is keeping us close to home and doing what we do best... WORK. We are extremely fortunate. Work is something we both enjoy. We have completed a few small household projects. Bill replaced our kitchen faucet and added a water filter. I installed a cat art gallery, just for fun. I am anxious to tackle the guest bath floor.
Our son, Josh... remains unemployed. I think I am more concerned about it than he is. Finding the right job is going to require a lot of luck in the current job market. We began constructing a website for Josh's tops while he was here over the holidays. His site will feature his hand-turned wooden tops and more. For now, we tailored the page to fit my site. I am going to keep it posted on FloatAbout until Josh gets his site up and running from Pittsburgh. (Note: Tops featured sold out. Website abandoned!).
If I ever worked on a schedule, Issue #66 of Float About would post around April 22nd. No promises. It is difficult for me to get motivated until I have something new and exciting to share. Time will tell. So far we have applied to one art show, but we intend to participate in 4-5 events. The first event could be as early as May. We usually finish mid-September. I do want to post an issue before our art show production consumes my life.
I know my fellow collectors have done and continue to do all they can to help the earthquake survivors in Haiti. We are all doing the best we can. Every effort, no matter how grand or modest, speaks to our kindness and humanity. There are so many charities in need right now, it's a bit overwhelming. I just remind myself, every little bit helps.
Tuesday my entire day and night will be devoted to preparing my eBay listings for Wednesday. I don't expect much action until the Duplicates post in a few weeks. However, be sure to reserve pens you want from the new arrivals list. So tell me what's new in your world? Making the best of winter? Getting crazy weather? Several collectors mentioned they are catching up on cataloging their pens. The perfect winter activity. Have fun!
Clinging to the hope and promise of spring....
Go forward to read Issue 66
Back up and read the Issue 64 from Mon/Oct 12, 2009
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FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
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