Float About #68... Dedicated to Eskesen Float Pen Collectors
© Thurs/Feb 10, 2011

Happy 2011 to everyone... that floats about. Winter has always been considered the dead zone for float pen collecting. With souvenir shops closed and travel at a standstill, there is rarely any action this time of year. 2011 seems to be the exception. End-of-the-year projects have spilled into the New Year. We are off to a great start.

Pens Out and About...
Jan 2nd, Craig Wilson had an exciting find... to share. “While browsing YouTube this morning, I came across this unusual concept for a floaty.Have you seen these pens yet?” See them in action in this amazing video www.8-p.net. According to the text that accompanied the video, “When the pen is tilted to one direction, the little man inside will start walking or swimming from one end to another in a smooth 6-frame animation.” How cool is that?!

Don't be fooled. At first glance the pens may appear humble, even a little plain, but I liken this floaty innovation to the invention of the first black and white tv. There is no telling where animation will go from here. How very clever to capture animated graphics in a float pen. It gets better. The pens were manufactured by Eskesen.

The same day I received Craig's email I introduced the pens in Float Along. Soon after, I was able to purchase 25 sets. The sets have since sold out. However, if I receive requests for ten or more sets, I will place a re-order. If you prefer, I can provide details for you to order directly from Japan. Each set includes both the man walking and man swimming pens and an instruction card. They sell for $24/set, plus S/H.

Satoshi Endo is the creative genius behind the project which is officially entitled “A Project for Making a Floating Pen at least Once in my Life.” When you visit the website be sure to click on 'Project', where the inspiration behind Satoshi's pens is revealed. He collaborated with designer/craft artist Taku Sato, but Satoshi is responsible for the idea, concept, computer simulation and overall direction. I sincerely hope once-in-his-life is not enough for Satoshi. I think the naked twist n click, with a chrome clip, would provide a great canvas for Satoshi's next floaty venture.

Major advances in technology often begin with tiny steps. As time goes and the world turns, 2100 is not really so far away. Satoshi has inspired me to wonder what float pens might look like in the next Millennium? Will they be loaded with a computer chip? Change holographic images with a click? What is your futuristic float pen vision?

Craig Wilson had an interesting idea. “Maybe E could experiment with something like this: For awhile, the USPS issued certain stamps with a hidden image that could only be viewed when you decoded it with a lenticular viewer placed above the stamp at the proper angle. If E could incorporate a similar decoder as the floater, the hidden images could appear in the background as it floats across the backdrop. Or the decoder could be in the foreground, and the image could appear on the floater. It might be prohibitively expensive to produce the small decoders. Also the new digital images aren't as microscopically clear as the photoramics That might be a deal-killer, too.”

First of all, I am not a philatelist, but because they are a part of my every-day life I do pay attention to stamps. So, how did I miss the hidden image stamp series?! Secondly it sounds like Craig's idea might translate nicely into float pen design. It's up to Eskesen to determine if it's too expensive to consider. We just pitch ideas and wait for something to stick. So don't be shy. Share your vision before it's too late. We are becoming so dependent on electronic devices for communication, pens could become extinct!

Dec 9th Monica B in CA forwarded... this sighting. The offer ran for three days and ended on Black Friday. I scoured the StarWarsShop website, but the Princess has vanished. I do know Finn Sørensen was able to acquire this pen on eBay. It may be our only option.

Dorothy Bater, a collector in the UK... emailed to say “Biggy Kuhn put me on to a lovely new pen from The Jersey Pottery. They are £2.99 each, plus vat but are classic and look really good. I ordered directly at (Link defunct; Removed June 2015.) These of course are not from New Jersey, USA but from the little Island between the UK and France.”

Dorothy has since received the pens. “The floaty is a Jersey cow. The pens are classic and come in two colours both new to me, pale blue and a creamy yellow.” Thank you for the lead ladies!

Jan 15th an unexpected package arrived... from an unknown source, Design Design, Inc. I assumed it was something Josh or Bill had purchased online, but much to my delight, it was addressed to me. The second I realized it was float pens, I slammed the box closed and deposited the parcel in the pen room. When it comes to acclimation, I practice what I preach. Monday morning I reserved a block of time to go through the bounty.

Let me begin with an excerpt from the letter of introduction I received from Sue Marsh. “Design Design is a wholesale company based in Grand Rapids, MI. We have been in business for 20 years producing greeting cards, paper tableware, gift packaging, home decor, gifts and more.” Sue continued... “For 2011, we are introducing a new category in our assortments: writing pens. Not just any writing instrument, but one inspired by the nostalgic and fun Eskesen floaty pen from the corporate gift and souvenir market. We've developed a total of 18 designs of humorous floaty pens, made by Eskesen for Design Design. Each of which features our famous brand of jokes and images from our various licenses for humorous beverage napkins, stationery gifts, and more.” They are considering new designs for the next holiday season.

YES!!!! You heard right. Eighteen new floaty designs now available to collectors worldwide.
This contemporary collection of humorous designs will have everyone howling.
Look for the displays below at retail outlets in your neighborhood, across the USA, Canada and the UK!

The floaty pens were officially introduced in a January 7th press release to nine major trade journals and retailers. Design Design displayed their funny floaties at the Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas winter trade shows.

Now for the best part. You don't even have to leave home to get your hands on them. Save fuel and order via the Internet. The entire collection is available, or pick and choose your favorites at (Link Removed June 2015; No mention of float pens on their website.)

Head's up from Topline Products, Inc... in Seattle. I was chatting via email with Lupita Vargas regarding floaty business in what some call the new economy. I was pleased to hear they are quite busy. They had just shipped a number of custom designs. These are pens that get shipped exclusively to the client, so they are not available to me. However, if you live near any of these sites, you may be able to walk-in and purchase their designs. The list includes: Jennettes Pier, the OK Corral, Little Rock Zoo, Petersen Automotive Museum and the Mount Washington Auto Road. Happy hunting.

On a November excursion to E's website... Craig Wilson took time to browse their product catalogs. He discovered digital Eskesen tip n strips in the C-top style. Do you know where he can get them? The few distributors I am in contact with do not carry them. Surely they are widely distributed in the USA.

Beverly Broadstone has since reported seeing many tip n strip C-clips while in Hawaii. “In fact, I took a photo of the display rack. If I had known Craig wanted them, I could've easily picked them up at the many ABC Stores up and down Waikiki. Perhaps some of Craig's friends have a trip to Oahu planned soon.” The price is right. $9.99 for a 3-pack. If you discover a closer source, please let me know.

California collector, Annie R... contacted me on Dec 5th with her latest discovery. “I finally had a chance to read the latest Float About newsletter and the paragraph about the wealth of floaty pens in LA reminded me of one I bought a few weeks ago. I got to attend Placido Domingo's Il Postino opera...woohoo!”

Annie purchased the pen at the Music Center's Disney Hall gift shop.

She thinks she paid $4.95 for the pen. This link (Pens long gone; Link removed June 2015.) As usual, the float pens do not appear to be included in their on-line catalog. There is a link to customer service and this is the phone number to the shop: 213/972-3440. Beverly Broadstone tells me this pen has been on trade lists for 2-3 years. Annie's phone picture is a little rough, but I think you can figure it out. Thanks Annie!

Jan 2nd Alicia Delahunty presented me with .. two new floaty designs. Alicia explained, “I was walking back from the National Gallery of Art's exhibit, The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, with our teen son. I noticed the National Building Museum had a couple of interesting exhibits. They have a great gift shop and, to my delight, there were two floaty pens!”

I apologize for my scans. The digital pens were manufactured by Eskesen. The bus floats in the top pen. A pick-up truck pulls a passenger tram in the second pen.

You can explore the Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s exhibit here. This is a direct link to the Museum Shop customer service page. A 'thank you' to Alicia for thinking of us.

In the meantime, while surfing the web, I discovered a set of three Doctor Who Floaty pens on Amazon USA. Unfortunately they were NOT made by E. The listing did not divulge the origin of the pens, but my guess would be China. The set sells for $29.00, plush s/h. If interested, order from Amazon here: Amazon Dr Who Listing.

Ned West, in Pittsburgh... continues to keep me posted on pen activity at HDS Marketing. He emailed to say he was working on a possible design for MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and The Metropolitan Museum. Thanks to Ned I am also tracking down two designs due for release very soon. Stay tuned.

Media Sightings...
Nov 8th Patty W submitted... this sighting. “I just saw Elling on Broadway. The character Kjell Bjarne, played by Brendan Frasier, is given a blonde tip-n-strip as a Christmas gift.” I believe this is the first time ever anyone has spotted a float pen in a Broadway production. Too cool!

Follow-up to Issue #67...
Just a few days after FloatAbout posted... Dorothy submitted this story. Since many collectors do not read FloatAlong, I am going to include it for all to see.

UK collector, Dorothy Bater... had an exciting summer. “Our daughter Rachel got married on Friday August 13th in a cave. The cave system is called the Dan-yr- Ogof. The wedding cave has always been known as Cathedral Cave. Even though it is not a real church, God is everywhere so I don’t think it matters. It was such a beautiful place to marry, all candle-lit with the sound of cascading water all about. It was Nature’s Cathedral. Colin and I both like our new son-in-law, John, very much.”

Picture left: Parents Colin and Dorothy Bater with beautiful bride, Rachel.

“Last month Colin and I went to North Wales for a long weekend. I found three pens that I didn’t have and another that I have in my collection. The Festiniog & Welsh Highland Railway, Great Orme Summit Llandudno (all with bubbles, but it is cold up there), a naked twist n click from Talyllyn Railway. I know these are available online. The duplicate pen was from the UK’s smallest house Conwy. I haven’t found too many pens this year but a few trades with Biggy has helped.”

Dorothy continues... “We had a short trip to Milan in July but the only pens I found there were the awful Italian pens. We traveled via Amsterdam and a quick search of the airport was not fruitful. However our suitcases did not arrive in Milan and at the lost luggage desk the lady was using a floaty pen. I managed to trade for a Wales pen. I got a C-top from Exforge, the first time I have ever done anything like this.”

The picture right is the.... smallest house in the UK. Built around 1680 in Conwy, North Wales. There are two floors that total 10 feet tall. The width is just 4.5 feet. Dorothy said “Many couples have lived in it. The last resident was 6 feet 3 inches tall. He could not stretch out at all.”

I can tell from all of the souvenirs displayed on the sidewalk this is a tourist site I would like to visit. Knowing they have a float pen makes it a must-see! Congratulations to your family Dorothy. You did have a wonderful summer.

The example left is the photoramic version from my personal collection.
I'm guessing if you visited the site today, the pens they offer would be a digital.

Before I forget... there is a topic we need to discuss. Vocabulary, especially words that are specific to a particular trade, are quite useful. Craig Wilson and I have had conversations about our funny floaty language. We toss about words like classic, photoramic, conceal/reveal, naked twist n clicks, tip n strips and the like. These are terms most of us are familiar with. We need a descriptive word for the type of imagery where the floater disappears behind a panel and emerges in a different form. Craig also thinks it's high time we coin a nickname for pens that are not made by Eskesen. Pens manufactured outside of Eskesen include many styles created from two different origins: China and Italy. Currently most collectors refer to such pens as non-Eskesens. Any suggestions for something shorter?

We do have a few newbies among us. Whether you are new to collecting float pens or a veteran, if you have doubts about terminology visit the Anatomy and Definitions page on my website. Recently there have been questions about all of the little markings included on the pen list. You know, all those (c) (tc) (d) and such. I whipped-up Code Chart to clarify the marks. The link is on the pen list category page.

Collectors News...
It seems everyone survived... the holidays. For some the journey was a little bumpy. Andy Balbus and family celebrated in Puerto Rico. Yes, they were there for the 5.1 earthquake. No harm done, just all shook-up. Pittsburgh collector, Nancy K and family, enjoyed sunshine and dry weather during their trip to Jerusalem. Biggy Kuhn and hubby made their way from Germany to Austria with multiple stops in between to hunt for float pens. Biggy didn't find one floaty, but it didn't spoil the trip. They enjoyed the sights and sounds of winter and ate well throughout.

Others chose to stay close to home. Bill, Josh and I had our traditional Chinese lunch followed by an evening of movies and popcorn. I know the Wilsons and Broadstones were home for the holidays. Miranda Wittebol works in the health care industry. Christmas day she was on-the-job. Her family gathering may have been delayed, but it was not diminished in any way. They even managed to make time for a hike in the snow.

Now we find ourselves well into the New Year... and ten full years into the New Millennium. Can we still call it 'New'? I won't be around for the next one, but there are a few rare individuals that have weathered two Millenniums in one lifetime. California collector, Ron Lanyi, is celebrating his mother's birthday TODAY. Ron forwarded a newspaper article from the Oct 7th issue of the Pasadena Independent entitled, Vista Cove Resident Nadya Lanyi will soon Reach Year 105. Can you imagine!? Use the link above to read Nadya's story. See the page tab? You will have to click 8 times to arrive at the correct page. Ron was one of the first collectors I met in the early days of Float About. I've not had the privilege of meeting Nadya. I would like to thank her for raising such a fine son. Happy Birthday to Nadya, a very special lady.

There are big things happening within our community. However, with over 300 collectors, odds dictate some of our members are struggling. For many, these are difficult times. I am aware of several effected by unemployment, serious illness, loss of family members and loss of beloved pets. It's heartbreaking, but they all remain positive and confident things will improve. If there is anything I can do, I trust they will tell me.

In general we are a lucky lot. Andy Balbus is about three weeks away from opening his law office in Connecticut. Attorney Harris Lindenfeld just spent time with his brand new grandson in Alaska. Bostonians, Doug Yeo and wife, Pat, have purchased a home in Phoenix. It will be waiting for them when they are darned good and ready to retire. Pittsburgh collector, Marisa Barna, is studying in Rome for four months. Marisa will have several opportunities to venture out in search of float pens. She intends to meet a few collectors during her stay too. I am so very proud of Marisa. Whatever your situation, your latest endeavor, your plans... I wish you all the very best in 2011.

Pens past, present and future...
The remaining duplicates from issue #67... have been merged into the Main List. Since November I have purchased two collections, just over 300 pens total. I quickly removed designs that are standards on my list and added them to inventory. When I encountered designs that came and went on the last duplicates list, I brought them back. So if some of the pens seem familiar, it's because you are getting a second chance.

As for the present... the new arrivals category hasn't changed much. There are a few designs remaining from issue #67. To make it up to you, it's time for another lottery. 316 duplicates will be offered. If you wish to participate, review the complete Lottery details and deadline page. Let the games begin!

Lottery Deadline is Mon/Feb 14th @ 7pm EST.

Before I raise prices I always give collectors an opportunity to purchase pens at the current price. I will take it a step further. 50¢ will be deducted from each and every pen you order from the Main List between now and the lottery deadline of (Mon/Feb 14 @ 7pm EST). The Main List includes most categories. There are two exclusions: New Arrivals and Duplicates. I am not going to raise prices across-the-board. Older photoramics in short supply are my target. The price hike will be minimal, in most cases a quarter.

You made it through the newsletter, now it's time to hit the pen list.
The 21st person to submit an order or lottery list will receive the photoramic Smallest House in the UK pen featured in this issue. I look forward to processing your wishlist.
Enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day...

That's all for now. Updates have already been added to Float Along.
Check it frequently for incoming news!

Go forward to read Issue #69 posted Thurs/June 16, 2011
Back up to read Issue #67 posted Fri/Nov 5, 2010
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