Float About #66... Dedicated to Eskesen Float Pen Collectors
© Copyright Wed/July 7, 2010

Follow-up to Issue #65...
I was convinced it would be September... before there was enough news to warrant pulling a newsletter together. This time of year many floaty collectors are preoccupied with outdoor activities, enjoying the company of family and friends, as well as traveling. For those out and about and on-the-hunt, my best wishes. I sincerely hope you will report all of your floaty finds. Just about the time Bill and I began gearing up for our 2010 art/craft show season... the dam broke. Suddenly information and pens began pouring in. This won't be the longest issue ever, but I promise it has substance. Let's pick-up where we left off in the frigid month of February.

In issue #65... I announced that Darkhorse Comics had a custom-made Bettie Page tip n strip floaty pen on order. Just to refresh your memory, Bettie Page was often referred to as the Dark Angel or Queen of Curves. In 1955 she won the title of Miss Pinup Girl of the World. Even though Bettie rose to fame in the mid-fifties she still has a loyal and global cult following. It's truly amazing her image hasn't been captured in a floaty pen before now. Her story is stormy, surprising and fascinating... much like Page herself.

I received notice that the Bettie Page pens would reach the USA on July 14th. So I was pleasantly surprised to receive my package on Tues/July 6th. There was an unexpected bonus. The pen is in a blister pack with a display card (as shown). I have notified anyone and everyone that had Page pens reserved. If you did not receive notice, but you would like to own the Bettie Page tip n strip, the price is $9.25 each. I know, OUCH! Find Bettie on my New Arrivals page. www.DarkHorse.com is also offering the pens for $12.99 each. DarkHorse has a number of Page items available and many new items in-the-works. The pens will soon surface at Big Bad Toy Store, Historic Aviation and other retail outlets as well.

It was Ned West, at HDS Marketing... that originally turned me on to the Bettie Page pens. Ned contacted me last week with exciting news. He confirmed that 5,000 Nickleback Tour floaty pens were made and distributed. The pens were given as part of the VIP premium ticket package for those that attended the band's 2010 Live Nation Tour. Sorry, as far as I can tell, they are not available outside of tickets sales. However, if you really want to dig, the band has a fan club. (Sorry, Fan Club has disbanded or moved; Link defunct; Removed June 2015.) Watch eBay too. Surely there are a few fans willing to part with their pens.

Ned is currently working on tip n strip pens and bottle openers for the fashion brand Supreme NY. Their floaty items will be headed to NYC, LA and Japan. Sneak preview of their steamy design pictured left.

Starkist placed a re-order for their Charlie the Tuna promo pens. If I can get them, I will, but don't hold your breath.

A float pen for the alternative country band, Wilco is in-the-works. He is also reeling in a pen order for Rossignol Ski. That Ned is one busy guy! Now for the tragic ending. It's unlikely collectors will ever own any of Ned's current designs. Corporate pens rarely hit the streets.

Rare Star Trek Floaty

Ned did have some good news to share. For the lucky few that have this Star Trek pen in their collection, Ned tells me it is very rare. He worked on the pen two years ago and only 550 were made.

The folks at Topline Products... have been busy generating revisions and new designs. The Seattle company is a major player in the souvenir market and my #1 distributor. They are responsible for several pens on the new arrivals list: CA/Oakland/Gondola, CA/San Jose/Computer Chip, CA/San Francisco/Sailboat, KS/Wichita/Twister, OH/Cleveland Rocks/Guitars, UT/Salt Lake City/Bi-plane. Somehow I missed their new Seattle Coffee Cup floaty, but they will restock. I won't let it slip away next time around.

The long-awaited Mars PA Museum Pens arrived.... about a month after the release of issue #65. A handful remain in inventory. It's not every day you see a flying saucer as a floater. Truly an unusual theme for a advertise floaty. And it's extremely nice for a digital design.

Way back in March I received a note from ... Victoria B in CA. She went to the Gama-Go website in search of their custom set of six floaty pens. The pens had vanished from the website. Apparently out-of-stock. However, after a little surfing expedition Victoria found the entire set of six here: (Sorry. Link defunct; Removed June 2015.) The price is just $4.99 each. I didn't follow it through to determine shipping charges. Thanks for providing the option Victoria. These are Chinese pens, but some of the cutest I have seen. I visited the Perpetual Kids site again on Fri/June 25th. At that time, all six designs were in stock.

Since issue #65 of the newsletter posted Gama-Go produced a second set of floaty designs. They offered a set of six at a great price, but I see the complete set has since sold out. You can still purchase most of the designs individually here Gama-Go's Website. (Sorry, pens have sold out, but Gama-Go could have different designs by now; Check periodically for new float pens.) Remember, Gama-Go pens are made in China.

Pens Out and About...
The week of May 22nd, Doug Yeo celebrated... his 55th B-Day. August 31st Doug and his wife, Pat, will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. Congratulations on both counts! In between they will be on-the-move. The couple didn't waste any time. Doug was quick to provide his first spring pen report.

“Recent travels across the country have shown that China is continuing to make inroads into the floaty pen marketplace, with their cheaply made, gaudy designs. They have pushed Eskesen pens out of the running in many key locations. My wife and I traveled to Yosemite National Park in California; our third trip to this wonderful national park. Yosemite is so remote that there is no town, city or village nearby where a floaty pen collector might walk about looking for pens. So pen explorations are limited to the park itself. There was only one place in the park where floaty pens could be found, in the Yosemite General Store, near the visitor center. Unfortunately the bright display of C-top pens was from China, pens with no maker's mark and a pedestrian design. For $5.99! I was very glad I had bought Eskesen Yosemite floaty pens in my previous visit and also one from your February lottery.”

“Chicago's O'Hare airport was no better; two different news stands (there surely are others) had displays of floaty pens, but all were clearly marked ‘Made in China’ and sported dreadful designs that paled against the dozen or so Chicago Eskesen-made pens I have in my collection. At one stand, I saw a woman holding a Chinese floaty and I said to her, ‘Excuse me, Ma'am, but you should know that this pen was made in China, a cheap rip-off of the original floaty pens that are still made in Denmark.’ She looked at me - looked at the pen - and then put it back in the bin and turned to leave with a smile. One small step...”

Doug is a brave soul. He doesn't hesitate to speak his mind when it comes to float pens. No matter where I travel, when I encounter Chinese knock-off's I politely explain to the clerk or manager why collectors prefer Eskesen pens. The more they hear it, the more likely they are to do something about it. In Doug's photo there are at least three Chicago designs and they all look like graphics from a coloring book. Not a floaty pen among them I would want in my collection.

Late June, Doug Yeo and family were in England... on tour with the Natural State Brass Band of Little Rock, Arkansas. Doug reports... “I am the guest soloist. My wife Pat and our oldest daughter, Linda, are also playing in the band. They came over with me a few days early to enjoy London before heading up to Yorkshire later in the week for the tour.”

Doug continues... “The floaty pen situation is grave world over, so it was an encouragement to see a genuine E C-top at the British Museum today, with some highlights of the Museum's fine Egyptian collection. It was a little pricey at £3.00, but I was happy to support the museum by buying one.” I am familiar with the design. The picture above and left is the original photoramic version from my personal collection. I can tell the pens available at the Museum are now digitals. If you find yourself in London... you know where to go! Thanks Doug. High hopes you find more floaty treasure in your travels.

With that said, the very next day Doug found a gorgeous Eskesen floaty designed for Red Bus. This is a shot of the artwork included in the pen. “It is a wonderful design, very striking.”. I agree. I contacted Red Bus via email regarding the purchase of 36 pens, but they didn't bother to respond. So, I do not have any of the pens, but you can order them directly... www.templeisland.com.

Tues/July 6th Doug submitted... his final update from their England trip. “ In the middle of our tour of England with the Natural State Brass Band from Little Rock, Arkansas, we had three free days. We jumped in our rental car and drove South to Wiltshire to visit friends and some favorite sites in the area. There were no floaty pens in Bath Abbey, Wells Cathedral, or Stonehenge - or Coventry Cathedral which we visited on our way back up north. But there was a pen in the Roman Baths gift shop in Bath - the pen was a digital twist n click from the British Museum. I did not see this design at the Museum. It features Roman soldiers. Not a bad haul given the current state of affairs. Three pens, two of which were new, in just two weeks.”

“But there was a bonus. Our pastor and his wife picked us up at Boston's Logan Airport on our return and as we pulled up to our house, they gave me a new pen - a classic digital from the Orchard House Museum in Concord, Massachusetts. The Museum is at the home of the Alcotts - I have driven past it hundreds of times but never have gone inside. Little did I know they had a floaty pen! I guess that's a lesson: never overlook the places in your own back yard!” Welcome back to the USA Yeo family. Doug, thank you for the travelogue and pen report.

June 9th, Nils Alisch from Germany... uncovered this beauty from the Schlitz Beer company. It is a twist n click tip n strip Eskesen floaty pen. The pen features Miss December from way back in 1968, Cynthia Myers. The Schlitz logo is imprinted on the barrel. The barrel is ivory colored. I ordered 40 pens to share with my collectors. They are included on my New Arrivals list. I had to pay retail and s/h so the cost is $6.50 each. The Schlitz logo is imprinted on the barrel. Caption panel includes: “Things Had Better Body Back Then ... Especially The Beer”.

Note that unlike most twist n click pens, both the Bettie Page and Schlitz pens have a pocket clip affixed to the back of the pen. So, if you utilize the clip, the images are fully visible. All too often if you use the clip on a twist n click, the art panel is cut in half. This is a common complaint regarding the twist n click style. It's refreshing to see the full design instead of a split image.

Biggy Kuhn found this... Eskesen-made Wee Devil c-clip twist n click floaty from the Shawnimals series. This design will NOT be on my list. If you would like to order one... (Pens are no longer available; Link removed June 2015.) According to the website... “We’re pleased for the upcoming release of our first Action Pen™ with the Inked Pulp™ special projects label: Wee Devil Action Pen! The pen, commonly called a “floaty pen”, features two sides: The animated action side pictures a gang of troublesome Wee Devils floating ominously toward the wise Ol’ Master Ninja. The reverse side has the Ninjatown™ logo, iconic Mt. Feroshi, and a cast of popular Ninjatown™ characters from the popular Shawnimals’ land. ”.

This tip from Nobi Ochiai... via Beverly Broadstone. Even though this is a Chinese floaty I know there are a lot of Alice in Wonderland and Johnny Depp fans among us. Nobi discovered a floaty pen for the newly released movie... (Sorry, pens are long gone. Removed link June 2015.) Last week I received word from Nobi. She still has a few of them available for trade. “The body of pen is very thick, and made in China, yet it is a bit expensive (945 yen, which is approximately $10.50) plus S&H.

Beverly B's husband traveled to the... San Francisco area on business. “George bought some floaty pens for me, and believe it or not, there is one new Eskesen pen design he found at the Oakland airport. It had a floating gondola. It certainly made me question why a gondola would be featured in an Oakland, CA floaty pen. I Googled it and evidently, Lake Merritt in Oakland offers authentic Venetian gondola rides. Hey, at least they are getting more creative than the usual Oakland scenes of a boat or the Bart train.” Thanks for the leads girls! The Oakland gondola design is included on my new arrivals list.

Media Sightings...
In June, Virginia collector, Tari Meredith, accompanied by Beth and Mary, enjoyed a 4-day shopping spree in NYC. From Tari's correspondence I'm certain they had a fabulous experience. “We had an unplanned visit to the set of Good Morning America and had our 15 minutes of fame, standing directly behind Robin Roberts, the host. We were on TV for a good portion of the segment. And you'll appreciate this - we were at Bergdorff Goodman one day and I saw this very nice looking guy walk past - then it dawned on me, it was David Boreanaz, of Bones fame. I so wanted to ask if he had a floaty pen with him and tell him that I was a friend of his supplier, but I refrained! Of course, I did score my own pens at a small shop near the hotel. My friends were quite tolerant of my search.”

Photo left to right: George Stephanpoulos, Beth, Tari and Mary

All five pens Tari found were Eskesen designs.
Each a digital remake of an older photoramic design:
1) Caption: ‘Statue of Liberty’ - Art panel: Statue of Liberty, with ‘USA’ floating behind.
2) Caption: ‘NEW YORK’ (apple for the ‘O’) - Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, floating ‘big apple’.
3) Caption: ‘NEW YORK’ against Times Square backdrop - Street vendor afloat in Times Square.
4) Caption: ‘NEW YORK’ against yellow & black checker backdrop - Art panel: 4 people hailing a taxi.
5) Caption: Empire State Building, New York - Art panel: King Kong climbs E.S. bldg and a NY apple.
It's nice to know there are still a few Eskesen souvenir pens available. Tari is an excellent scout. She will accompany her husband on a trip to Vienna in October. Fingers crossed she discovers floaty bounty there as well. Thanks for keeping us posted Tari.

June 16th I received a call from my son, Josh... to alert me to a pen sighting. He was watching the Colbert Report which airs on Comedy Central. I caught the 2am re-run. I could see right away the pen was a twist n click. No way to determine if it was an Eskesen. Colbert suddenly takes notice of the boat afloat in his pen. He remarks something like... ”If I had a gross of these I could have my own flotilla”. He continues to wave the pen around. For the remainder of the segment the pen rests in plain sight on his desk. Thanks for the heads-up Josh. I would have missed that one for sure. It so happens the design Colbert was holding is the Squid-ship floaty from Gama-Go.com.

This is a media sighting... still in-the-making. Are you familiar with a publication called Pen World? It's a glamorous glossy magazine that features the finest writing instruments the world has to offer. According to

This excerpt borrowed directly from Pen World's website... “Pen World has been the premier publication for fine writing instruments for over two decades. We cover the universe of writing culture—new pens at all price points, vintage pens, fine papers, inks, accessories, reviews, how-tos…if it’s connected with pens, you’ll find it in Pen World. Discover the beauty of handwritten communication and learn about the intriguing people who design, produce and write with pens. Issued bi-monthly, Pen World entices both new and experienced pen connoisseurs to look at writing instruments in fresh ways.”

From experience, I assure you it's all true. Pen World is all that and so much more. If you have a passion for writing and/or an appreciation for fine pens, this is the publication for you. The pens range from the classic clean lines of a traditional writing instrument to gem encrusted masterpieces. As you browse the pages, you will surely ooh and ahh. As you might imagine, PW doesn't give floaty pens much press... at least not until now! Freelance writer, Wendy Sedia, pitched an idea to the editor for an article about our modest collectible, the humble float pen. The editor actually liked the idea. I have been working with Wendy on and off for the last eight weeks. The article will appear in either the October or December 2010 issue. Release dates would be September or November. Watch Float Along for updates.

Collectors News...
April 30th I finally made... my way to Pittsburgh. Bill took me as far as Akron, OH where I caught a bus. Saturday we visited the Kawaii store in Shadyside. Josh was very patient while I looked through all the paper, stickers and toys. They did have three of the Gama-Go floaty designs in stock, but nothing in the way of Eskesen. Monday afternoon we met Bill in the Strip District to do some International grocery shopping and grab a latte. That evening, Josh, Bill and I had dinner with floaty collector Marisa Barna at The Union in Oakland. The food was excellent, but the company was even better. Marisa had completed her finals on Saturday so she was feeling great. We were excited to hear Marisa will study abroad in Italy as early as January 2011. Marisa brought her latest pen acquisitions for show and tell. She has an incredible collection. We all had a fabulous time. I look forward to doing it all over again.

Congratulations to Beverly Broadstone... she will celebrate her birthday this week. She is almost too busy to notice. Beverly's son, Rob, is getting married in October. Happy events going on at the Broadstone homestead. I so enjoy sharing good news.

May 29th Finn Sørensen attended the annual... Dutch Pen Collectors Club meeting in Barneveld, Holland. This group shares a passion for pens in general, but there are several die-hard float pen collectors among them. Sixty two collectors gathered to exchange pens, ideas, and friendship. Looks like Mother Nature favored the event as well. What a beautiful day for a get-together.

Finn went on to say... “Personally I found it highly enjoyable to meet my collector friends again and also make new friends. I wish the meeting had a longer duration - too little time to talk to people. The floaty harvest was very satisfying. Afterwards Morten and I spent a few days in Holland. We made time to tour Amsterdam and Utrecht to hunt for pens. We both brought home plenty!”

I am going to let Victoria B... attempt to explain this oddity. “One of my generous friends was visiting Palm Springs to see the Palm Springs Follies. She found a classic-style digital design in the gift shop, but it was unrelated to the show. The floater is the same male snorkeler as seen in the old standard Puerto Rico pen, but he is swimming the opposite direction. The background is different too. The caption panel has no text, just a picture of a beach resort.”

Now for the puzzle. “Mysteriously, the pen has a ‘Palm Springs, CA’ barrel imprint, even though Palm Springs is a desert city nowhere near a body of water suitable for snorkeling. When my friend expressed her confusion to the store clerk, the clerk suggested the man might be in an aquarium. Funny, they don't have an aquarium in Palm Springs, either.” It's a floaty conundrum!

June 20th I received a postcard... from Victoria B. She was traveling through Utah with her brother. They were re-visiting some favorite national parks and exploring a few that were new to them. They experienced 103 degree temps in the Arches, Canyonlands and Monument Valley. Thunder storms rocked their world at Capitol Reef. Bryce Canyon had snow and they were expecting more on their next stop at Cedar Breaks. Victoria reports “I haven't been able to find any new pens, but Ruby's Inn at Bryce Canyon still has plenty of their custom digital design.”

In February, Lee Williams stumbled over this display... while making her way through the Philadelphia Airport. Thank you for providing photos Lee. Most of us will not have the opportunity to see the exhibit.

Because the photo included Stacey Swigart's name, I asked her for permission to post the photo in Float Along. She responded, “Sure--you can use pictures of the collection. I only lent a portion of the pens I have (it's hard to be without them, as only a true floaty pen fan can understand!).” Stacey... we do understand!

My questions prompted more information from Stacey. “I started collecting floaty pens around the age of 10 when my mom took my brother and me to visit Mount Vernon in Virginia. George Washington was/is one of my heroes!” Stacey hasn't counted her pens lately, but she guesstimates she has about 400 pens in her collection.

Stacey helped develop a floaty pen for the Museum where she works. “While at the vendor showroom, the sales rep let me have carte blanche with a bucket full of pens. I tried (really hard!) not to be greedy, but I got a great big boatload of pens from him! It was nirvana!” Some of Stacey's favorite floaties.... a No-citation blue pen with floaty sharks and Blobfest from the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. It features a floaty blob from the movie The Blob and a pic of Steve McQueen. Her most recent fave is President Lincoln at the Smithsonian. A top hat floats over a picture of Lincoln.

I asked how Stacey was chosen to participate in the exhibit. “ The Museum I work at has two different play spaces at the airport, so I know the Director of Exhibitions there. She contacted the Museum to see if we knew any collectors with interesting collection obsessions. She was interested in my floaty pens! Two fellow colleagues loaned their stuff too--owls and Smurfs!”

Thanks for filling in the blanks Stacey. Maybe the idea will spread and Personal Collection exhibits will appear in more airports and other public places. If you discover such an exhibit in your travels, tell us about it.

Pens past, present and future...
In the past... I was able to purchase pens wholesale and offer them to you at terrific prices. Those days have vanished. There are only a couple of distributors that carry stock designs. Like Eskesen, wholesalers are concentrating on custom designs that go directly to the client. Those clients often prefer to distribute their own inventory. Consequently I am forced to buy retail and the higher price is reflected on my pen list. I had hoped this trend would change, but I am convinced it's the new reality, but it's not going to slow me down. If I can't afford to purchase a pen retail, I will continue to provide links for you to buy direct.

Without the aid of my scouts and distributors... I would be lost. Nils Alisch found the Schlitz pen. Robert Henry discovered the Boot Hill Museum design. Topline had a handful of new designs. Ned at HDS directed me to the Bettie Page pens. Otherwise, my new arrivals list would be a blank slate. You will be quick to notice the Duplicates category and Main List remain unchanged. I was determined to have another duplicates lottery before our art show schedule began, but it's way too late now. Bill and I will embark on our 40th art show season with our first event in Medina, OH on July 18th. Neither of us are ready. We are not going to be ready. We are seriously debating whether this year will be our last year in show biz. First we need to survive this season. I want to believe you are so busy this summer you won't even notice the shortage of pens. When our show schedule ends I will rush to get a duplicates lottery up and running.

On the Homefront...
We didn't take a spring vacation... Instead we invested our time and energy into building a screened-in pergola on our back porch. It reminds me of a cabin by the lake, without the lake. It's fourteen feet deep and over twelve feet wide. In reality it is a Cat Shack. A safe place where our cats can play and sleep without venturing outdoors.

Our porch is above our workshop, so we have a beautiful view from the second floor. We guesstimated the entire project would take three weekends to build. HA! If we knew what we were doing... maybe. May 16th we bought materials for the basic structure. Working in between rain and thunderstorms, it took a full month to complete the build.

Screening was by far the biggest challenge. Bill didn't have a ladder tall enough, so in typical Bill fashion he clamped two ladders together. By June 18th the space was deemed cat safe. The 20th we declared our new outdoor space finished. At bedtime, we left the dining room door open so the cats could party all night. The next morning they were so exhausted they slept through breakfast. They love the 52 linear feet of cat walk that I made for them. We have four safe and happy felines. Bill and I really appreciate being able to have coffee and meals outdoors without swatting bugs. Mission accomplished. Spring is DIY time. Did you tackle a home improvement project too?

I know you are anxious to hit the pen list, but before you go, there is something you need to know. I will not be available Thursday afternoon through Friday night. Bill's sister-in-law passed away a few days ago. She has been ill for too many years to count. Yes, it is sad, but it was also a relief for the family. We expected the viewing and memorial to be over the weekend, but not so. The viewing is Thursday and services are on Friday. Our house/catsitters are not paid enough to deal with business in our absence. They will not be able to help you. Even so, send your order in right away. I will handle orders on a first-come first-served basis when I return.

Wishing you a grand summer!
Forever afloat...

That's all for now. Updates will be added to Float Along.
Check it frequently for incoming news!

Read the current issue of the newsletter Issue #67 posted October, 2010
Back up and read the Issue #65 posted Mon/Feb 22, 2010
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