Greetings friends in the.... floaty community. As you know, summer is prime time hunting season for float pen collectors. Have you ventured out yet? Planned your vacation? Will you stay close to home or travel to exotic territories? We await details of your trip and your float pen reports. Unlike winters and springs of the past, 2011 is off to a fantastic floaty start. If you do not read Float Along you have a lot of catching-up to do.
Follow-Up to Issue #68
Shortly after issue #68 posted.... I received an update from Shelley Yee. She ordered the Doctor Who set of three floaty pens from Amazon.com featured in the last newsletter. “I just received my pen set. They were Made in China as suspected, but I love Doctor Who so I bought them anyway. One has a tiny bubble, the second a little bit bigger bubble, but the third pen is ok. The floater sinks more that it floats, but I'm still happy to have them.” A few days later Shelley added... “ I went to use one of my new Doctor Who pens at work today (I enjoy mine by using them) and it wrote maybe 10 words, then ran out of ink! Doesn't impress me about pens made in China. Now I have to try to find a refill that will fit.” Oh Shelley, I wish you luck. That could be an impossible task. We do appreciate your insight. You have provided several factors for folks to consider before investing a whopping $30. Coincidentally it was Shelley that won the UK/Smallest House floaty. She was the 21st person to submit her February lottery wishlist.
Pens Out and About...
April 20th, Annie R, from San Diego.... emailed to bring the BabyCakes pen to my attention. I actually had a lead on this design a few months ago, but was unable to purchase the pens in quantity. I will not have this design on my pen list. The cost is $6.99/pen, plus s/h. Order here: (Sorry, link removed June 2015. Pens sold out long ago.) Thanks so much Annie.
A few days after I posted the announcement in Float Along, Beverly Broadstone discovered it costs $6.99 to have three Babycakes pens shipped or $7.11 to ship four. Since you have to go through the entire order process to reveal the shipping charges, she wanted to spare you the trouble. Beverly is such a sweetie.
March 1st, Biggy Kuhn reported she was having trouble.... falling asleep. Tired of tossing and turning, she sat down at her computer to surf the web. It was a lot more productive than sleep. Biggy discovered a Houdini design for sale at the Jewish Museum's on-line gift shop. The store is located on 5th Avenue in New York City, but the design has since sold-out. What a great find! Thank you so much for sharing Biggy.
Beverly Broadstone hesitated to order.... the Houdini pen above. She waited just long enough to miss the opportunity. However, thanks to Beverly's sister, Edna, another link was discovered. This Houdini design is from the Skirball Cultural Center in LA. Edna contributed this direct link to the gift shop via Beverly... (Sorry, link removed June 2015. Pens sold out long ago.) The pens sell for $5 each, plus S/H. If you have questions contact email@example.com or call 310/440-4505. Great information ladies. A ‘big thanks’ to the Broadstone sisters.
April 14th Victoria B had just returned from.... New Mexico with fresh floaty finds. “In Albuquerque, I found floaty pens at the same store where I found my first 3 New Mexico pens 8 years ago, when I originally visited Old Town. They had four different C-Top designs, including a Miniature Rock Collection that is my first with that type of inclusion, although I know there are a lot of them. The other three seemed like updates of older designs. There's a digital version of the cowboys chasing the stagecoach, but they are chasing it in the opposite direction this time. It travels right to left, rather than from left to right. There was a Get Your Kicks on Route 66 pen that has the convertible floating over a map, rather than the drive-in restaurant of the past. The Albuquerque balloon pen is very different from the one that you still have on your website. Surprisingly, the latter design was the only one not available at the Hudson News Store in the Albuquerque airport.”
“I did not find any pens at all near Santa Fe plaza, although they had every other kind of tourist item. However, I found something unexpected in Taos, which is further north. In a store on their plaza, I found the Stagecoach and Route 66 pens, but also a lovely pen with a ‘Great Smoky Mountains’ caption. I went to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park a couple of years ago, where it straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, and there were no pens to be found-- perhaps because they accidentally shipped them to New Mexico! They had a lot of them, too. There is a Smokey Bear Historical Park in southern New Mexico, where the original Smokey Bear was found after a forest fire, and I wonder if that's what someone was thinking when they ordered them. However, Taos is at more or less the other end of the state from that park. It's a nice pen, anyway... ” (I attempted to find a source for the designs above, but to no avail.)
Doug Yeo and wife Pat were in AZ and UT.... for two weeks in April. “We had a great time hiking in Utah at Zion National Park. I saw a number of floaty pens in the usual places we visited on previous trips, but no new designs apart from a couple of digital version of Photoramics I already have. It was good to see that there were places that still have pens.” While in Phoenix the couple stopped to visit their new property. Their future nest is in good hands, but the retirement date remains undecided. If retirement means leading a life of leisure, I don't believe Doug will ever get there. I imagine music, teaching, hiking and float pen collecting will always be part of Doug's life.
Christina Pleva is always busy chasing her.... 21-month old son around, but she still finds time for float pens. “I am always on the hunt for new pens, and traded with a few of our fellow collectors over the past year. Also, my husband and I and our son had an incredible opportunity to spend a month in Italy last fall. I didn't find any pens in Italy, but I did come across an old, faded pen in San Marino. To my disappointment, it seemed like Eskesen designs are being replaced by Chinese made pens :-( Not so in Germany, though! I stumbled upon six different Eskesen designs at the airport in Frankfurt! Found another at the airport in Philadelphia.” Thanks for the head's up Christina. You have a toddler about to turn 2 years old. You are not going to slow down for years to come.
Debbie Carriere, in Winnipeg.... touched base early in April. “I scored two fabulous pens at the last antiques/collectibles show from my favourite vendor, Bruce. This pen is really fabulous because it is from my province!”
May 2nd Debbie C returned.... from a Minneapolis road trip. “We left Friday morning. Due to flooding of the Red River, the town of Morden, was blocked off with a ring dike and therefore we had to take a 25 mile detour. When we rejoined highway 75 and then south to North Dakota (I-29), it was wall-to-wall water, so to speak. At one point I-29 was reduced to one lane and there was a temporary dike trying to keep the water back. Saturday the temps plummeted and North Dakota had blizzard-like conditions. We knew Winnipeg was getting the same. We were worried about our drive back, but by Sunday afternoon the highways were fine. Today (Mon), we are safe at home. It's warming up and the snow has almost melted.”
Debbie didn't let the bad weather deter her floaty hunt. She found one pen in the Minnesota Shop at the Mall of America. It's the same MN design included on my Main List. She found Mall of America gift shop to be pretty pathetic. There was a generic MN floaty pen at the Minnesota History Center. She skipped that one.
The Science Museum of Minnesota had a digital remake of an earlier Photoramic design. There was a site-specific pen available at the Como Park Zoo. I bought extra pens for trading. They are posted on my trade list.”
Debbie C has also been keeping a floaty secret.... for months. Only a couple of people knew that she commissioned a custom floaty. May 19th Debbie announced the arrival of the finished product via the Internet.
The design was inspired by Debbie's family and the wonderful times they have shared at their cottage on Lake Manitoba. Congratulations to Debbie. It's obvious she invested a lot of thought and energy into this labor of love. You can see the pen and read all about it here.... http://members.shaw.ca/floatypens/ Contact Debbie directly to arrange a trade, firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 28th Tari Meredith returned.... from an exhausting but fun trip to DisneyWorld with her niece and her family. “Even though I am not too keen on theme parks, I did have a fun time with them, especially 5 year old Brady. He is a sweet kid and a real hoot. He was my little buddy during my stay. I attached some photos of me with the whole family.
Tari and Brady third from the right
“I was terribly disappointed at not being able to find even one single floaty pen in Disney! I couldn't believe it. When I got to the hotel, the very first thing I did was check their store for a pen - NOTHING! And each and every store thereafter had the same cheap, cheesy, and decidedly uninteresting made-in-China pens. What a letdown! I felt cheated. I have Disney floaty pens in my collection from years gone by, but apparently they have chosen to go the cheap route. Anyway, I can't say I would rush back to DisneyWorld any time soon, but I did enjoy seeing it with the kids.”
This could be considered.... a media sighting. Shortly after issue #68 posted, Yoko, my contact for the animation pens, informed me... “The animation floating pen was introduced on Designboom, the world's most popular online art, architecture and design magazine with 4 million readers per month.” Satoshi Endo/Taku Sato Animation Pen. Before you leave DesignBoom.com explore the magazine to enjoy the cutting-edge of modern design. Congratulations to Mr. Endo. It's awesome. As for the animation pens, I sold the last set on June 7th.
Christopher Hall is a freelance.... journalist that is currently writing a short article about floaty pens for a U.S. magazine called Mental Floss. The article will focus on Eskesen pens. I answered several questions for Christopher and hope the article becomes a reality. Mental Floss, “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix”, is accessible on-line, MentalFloss.com. I am confident Christopher will contact me when the article posts.
Float Pen Lingo...
Remember the vocabulary issue... that was introduced by Craig Wilson in the last newsletter? Vocabulary, especially words that are specific to a particular trade, are quite useful. Craig thinks it's time to coin a nickname for pens that are not made by Eskesen. “Pens manufactured outside of Eskesen include many styles created originate from two different countries: China and Italy. Currently most collectors refer to such pens as 'non-Eskesens'.” Responses to his comments below...
Feb 13th Kim N submitted.... a suggestion. “I was thinking about the new name for the non-Eskesen pens. In re-enacting, we have a term ‘farb’ that describes people who aren't historically accurate, and I think it could be used to refer to pens that also don't reflect Eskesen's quality. Usually, a farb is someone with major flaws in their outfit -- like if you wear a polyester ‘George Washington’ Halloween costume to an event, you'd clearly be labeled as a farb. However, it also works if you wear Doc Martens under your gaiters instead of buckle shoes or if you buy a tricorn hat from a less than reputable sutler where the cut is all wrong. I've always heard that it is derived from ‘far be it for me to say’, but the Internet has some more documented connections to the Civil War Centennial in the 1960s, where both ‘far be it for me to criticize in authentic gear’ and the German word for color ‘Farbe’ are reputed to be the origins. There's also the adjective form ‘farby.’ Because it refers to something of lower quality (particularly based on the perceptions of a fanatic group with high expectations), I think farb would totally work as a term for the non-Eskesen pens.”
Late February Tari Meredith offered another idea.... “I was reading Float Along and the on-going crusade to come up with a name for the Non-Eskesen pens. I will put in my two-cents' worth and suggest ‘Neskies’ (a smushed combo of Non-Eskesen). Of course, since we don't really call the Eskesen pens Eskies, then I suppose it isn't completely true, but it does roll off the tongue. Or should I say, float off the tongue? Oh, ha. That's my best thought - it's late and I'm really tired.”
So what do you think? Do you like any of the suggestions above, or perhaps you have another word to offer? It's not like we have to chose one or the other. We could put both of them into use.
For those keeping count.... Biggy Kuhn's Eskesen collection has grown to 15,500 and that does not include recent acquisitions. “I hope some day, when I retire, I will find the time to list all my pens. My biggest wish is to have, like Tone Helen, a picture of every pen in the computer.” Years ago Biggy began a catalog of her pens, but the task became overwhelming. Now the only thing standing in her way is the daunting task of starting all over again.
In the meantime, Miranda Wittebol's numbers.... hold a close second. When I contacted her last week Miranda's count was 12,750. “With all of my hobbies, I have to split my budget between my many interests.” Miranda began collecting nearly 3 decades ago. Her collection is legendary.
Biggy had a funny story.... and pictures to share. Her husband, Bert, celebrated his 60th Birthday on Feb 20th. Her sister and brother-in-law had a wonderful present made for the special occasion. They commissioned a life-sized stone statue in Bert's likeness.
The gift was unexpected, but appreciated. It's a humorous addition to the Kuhn family and will surely spark a lot of conversation. Surely a birthday present Bert will never forget.
This is beyond embarrassing.... I should have told you months ago. Way back on March 7th, Connecticut collector, Andy Balbus, announced the opening of the Balbus Law Firm. Yes, this is the same Andy that owned and operated Sellers' Market. When Andy closed his business I wasn't sure what he would do next. Andy had doubts too. He decided to go back to school and enhance his law background to include bankruptcy as a specialty. Good timing because in this economy a lot of people are in serious financial trouble. So far the work is steady and growing. His shingle hangs at 108 Mill Plain Road, Suite 200, Danbury, CT 06811. Be sure to check out his website at the link above and pop-in via email to wish him well... email@example.com.
February 24th Debbie H.... in Wisconsin reported, “I took my mom to the ophthalmologist for a marathon 4-1/2 hour eye appointment yesterday. She was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. The good news is a monthly procedure can and will stop the progression of the disease. I noticed one of the nurses collecting information was using a floaty pen. I boldly asked if I could see it. She thought I was crazy, but then again she doesn't understand floaty-collectors. She handed it to me. It was from a medical supply company with a floating little yellow rubber duckie. Adorable. I looked at it for a few seconds and handed it back to her. My mom mentioned to her that I collect floaties. We had a little discussion about it, then the nurse continued with her questions and left the room. About an hour later, she stuck her head in the room, smiled at me, and handed me the pen :-). I was so excited!! It's absolutely NOT an Eskesen pen (it's very wide and very heavy with a metal tip that you turn to expose the tip), but it's just so darn cute. I was thrilled, and my mom was too :-), we both had a good and much needed laugh.” Good for you Debbie and our best wishes to your Mom.
Have you been following Marisa Barna's... European journey on Facebook? Marisa had an exciting opportunity to study for a semester in Italy. Classes began in January and ended early in May. In between Marisa took advantage of the school's travel program and ventured out to enjoy several weekend excursions. It was enough to spark the travel bug. Before returning to the USA Marisa wanted to do a whirlwind tour of Europe. Two classmates thought it was a grand idea. And with that the girls were off on a 4-week adventure!
See if you can keep up. The merry band of three visited Athens, Mykonos, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, London, Dublin and Nice. “It was such an incredible experience. After Nice I headed to Copenhagen by myself for a few days of rest and relaxation. Then I met with Finn Sørensen in his hometown, Struer. We have been trading pens for years and I was anxious to meet face-face, especially in Denmark.”
Photo left: Finn and Marisa pose on a pier in the town LEMVIG - a city at the LIMFJORD
The Sørensen's were most gracious. “I had a lovely time with Finn's family. We explored the surrounding area, beautiful countryside, harbors, fjords, even the ocean. I was treated to a home-cooked meal, something I truly missed during my time in Europe. I immensely enjoyed a full evening of going through Finn's floaty collection. Such incredible pens!”
Eskesen no longer offers factory tours and because they work with a skeleton crew, visitors are discouraged. Finn and Marisa knew they would not be able to get into the factory. However that didn't stop them from making the four-hour drive to Store Merløse.
Finn had been to Eskesen headquarters a number of times previously, so he was familiar with the landscape. Marisa was quite surprised. The first tangible evidence of Eskesen, was this sign... in a cornfield. They purposely chose Ascension Day, knowing the factory would be closed for the holiday. That afforded them all the time they wanted to explore the grounds and take pictures. TONS of pictures!
She was wise to save Denmark as her last destination. It was the perfect grand finale. A few days later Marisa was packed and ready to make her way back Pittsburgh. I spoke with her late on the 12th. She was slowly recovering from jet lag, but in great spirits. She's happy to be home and anxious to share the details of her trip. Now that she has had a taste of Europe, Marisa will surely return. Eventually the two of us will get together and I will get to see all of the travel photos. In the meantime, perhaps Marisa will post an album Facebook so everyone can follow her footsteps.
So the big question is... did she find any float pens? “I returned home with some really great finds and new designs. At least they are 'new' to me.”
“Sorry about the poor quality of my pics. My new camera doesn't do close-ups. Due to my financial situation, I didn't buy many extras for trading. However, if anyone is planning a trip to Europe, I would be happy to advise and direct collectors to my finds. firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Click on highlighted text to see samples:
Ireland and Mykonos, non-Eskesen designs
Finn summed up his past week.... rather nicely. First a trip to Holland for the annual Dutch Pen Club Meeting. Then he headed to Hannover, Germany for the Wood Fair where he harvested 732 new pens. Next stop back to Denmark to pick-up Marisa in Seeland. The icing on the cake... their outdoor visit to Eskesen. “Life is Good!”
Just hours before I posted the newsletter... I received the photo right, from Edmond Cotterchio in Luxembourg. “This is a photo of myself and French collector, Didier Desniou. Didi was here last week with his girlfriend, Dominique. We traded for some beautiful floaty pens.”
I appreciate the update from Ed. It's been a long time since I have heard from Didi. It's good to 'see' him again. Ed is the guy on the right. He isn't nearly as tough as he looks. I happen to know they are both sweet as apple pie. The Internet is an amazing communication tool, but it's nice to know collectors still do an old fashioned sit-down once in awhile.
I have a personal.... float pen story to tell. One of my fave flea market vendors manages 8 booths. At the Sept 2010 show Mary Jean mentioned she needed help for the Oct and Nov shows. In exchange MJ offered two tables where I could sell 'stuff'. The first event for 2011 was held Feb 26-27th. The 25th, I was setting-up my tables. I opened a Felix the Cat cookie jar box to pull Felix out for display. The unexpected contents took my breath away! It was packed full of float pens, nearly 400 of them. All pens that I took in trade between 1997-98. The same box had accompanied me to the Nov flea market. It still had a $40 price tag on the package. What if I had sold it without ever opening the box?!?!? Well, I didn't so no worries. At least half of the pens represent foreign locations. The others are a mix of everything imaginable. I wondered how I would gather a nice mix of 300 pens for the next lottery. Problem solved. WHEW!
Craig Wilson netted an oldie.... “I recently received some pens from an eBay auction that included some 'extras'. One of the surprise pieces was this tired (as in broken) t&s; as I wrote to Beverly, the poor gal seems just too tired to bother redressing. What intrigued me about it is that the clicker button is much smaller in diameter than I've ever seen; it's also permanently depressed -- won't budge either way. Have you ever seen such a small clicker mechanism?”
Yes Craig, I own a few clickers in this style. I am guessing they are the earliest version. It seems pens in this style are always in dismal shape, perhaps because they are SO old. I don't recall ever seeing one in good condition.
I am curious to see what Craig and Terri find on their later-this-summer vacation. They are going to Hawaii. This adventurous couple always wanders off the beaten path. No telling where they will go, or what they will find.
Over the years, Micale Maddox, of FloatPens.com... has been responsible for countless fabulous pen designs. Since she handled many corporate accounts, Micale's designs have always been hard to get and consequently treasured. She's the woman behind the Heinz Ketchup pens we all know and love. FloatPens.com is currently closed, but Micale stays up-to-date with the floaty community. Shortly after issue #68 posted, I received an email. I thought you might get a kick out of the background history unique to Micale's experience in the floaty world.
“Hi, Diana--wow! The animation pens are AMAZING! I posted that video on my facebook page...and boy, do you bring back memories...I remember every order and when I see them I am reminded of the story of the pen design. Every pen has it's own story to bring the design to fruition. Just seeing the Anzemet pen reminds me that it was one of my biggest orders ever. I can't remember if it was 25,000 or 100,000 but it was my biggest single order to that date. I was so nervous about the financing! The Go Buy the Book pen was the first time I had to use the floater stop to make sure the 'u' stopped in just the right place. It took some doing and more than a few revisions as I recall. And DIVE!... my poor distributor who was working with the DIVE people had Steven Spielberg applying pressure on her for all of their promotional items. She said she had so much trouble with the logo since it had graduated colors. It was no problem for the pens because they were film, but to get that logo on caps or jackets with embroidery or on other products was making her crazy. She said that she was in a meeting with Steven Spielberg and she was gently complaining about the logo and he turned to her and said: ‘If we can bring dinosaurs to life, you can get this logo on merchandise!’ This was just around the time that they did Jurassic Park. I'll never forget that story. She did not last long on that project after that.” That's ok. The Las Vega Dive! restaurant didn't last long either. Ambiance is highly over-rated. After all, we come to eat! I appreciate Micale's generous praise. I am indebted to her for all of the support she has given me and Float About for the last fifteen years. It's always a pleasure to hear from Micale.
Stop the Presses...
Beverly B has a... last minute pen finding to report. “I discovered this pen online. It is for the Guggenheim kids museum. Pricey at $8 each and even pricier shipping. One pen ships for $7.95; up to 3 pens for $11.95. I'd love to order it, but I'd like to find 1 or 2 more collectors to chip in on the shipping charges. Are you interested?” (Link removed June 2015; Pens no longer available.) They might sell a few more if the picture were big enough to see.
Pens Past, Present and Future...
After the February lottery... I had to turn my attention to tax prep, household tasks, the flea market and even an emergency tooth extraction. I felt as though I had abandoned Float About. I've spent the last two months making up for it. I have scanned until I can't see straight. I trust you will enjoy the long list of pens. Amazingly, there are even a few New Arrivals.
Norm Kautt, from Illinois, procured the new Home Depot twist n click floaty pens for me. Beverly Broadstone provided a link to the Heinz Ketchup design. Both are excellent scouts and contributors to Float About. There help is most appreciated. A lead from Ned West, at HDS, enabled me to purchase the New York Times pen. It was designed for a charity event called The New York Times Neediest Cases. Only 500 pens were created. The profit from the 40 pens that I purchased went directly to the cause. I included a modest donation to say 'Thank you' for the opportunity to obtain pens for my fellow collectors. To date, there are less than a dozen in stock.
In addition, there are two different MI/Detroit designs, one TX/Dallas and an Adv/Sears Tower/Balloon. I thought I had a new WI/Cow pen in-coming, but it turns out it is a digital remake of an old photoramic design. Still, the digital version is new to my list. The TX/Dallas pen, also a digital, is not a remake. The Sears Tower pen was the biggest surprise. It is a photoramic design that I have never encountered before. Sears Tower officially changed it's name to Willis Tower on July 16, 2009. So this Sears Tower pen is now a historic reminder of the past.
I want to make this as.... painless as possible. The last time I raised my shipping rates was in May of 2007. Sorry I can't delay any longer. The price to ship a 1 ounce package just increased from $1.39 to $1.71. My new rates reflect a 25 cent First Class increase.
As of June 2011:
$2.75 USA First Class S/H if ordering 1-4 pens
$3.25 USA First Class S/H if ordering 5-8 pens
$3.75 USA First Class S/H if ordering 9-11 pens
$5.50 USA 2-3 Day USPS Priority-Confirmed for orders of 12-21 pens.
For International rates I always charge the actual shipping, plus $1 for materials. You can always visit http://ircalc.usps.gov/ to calculate charges. My new rates are effective immediately.
It's time for the June Duplicates Lottery.
To participate, read the Lottery Details page now.
DEADLINE for receipt of your wish list has
been extended to Sun/June 19th at Noon(EST)
Browse the Duplicates Category to see what's being offered.
There are 310 designs!
On the Homefront...
We canceled our May trip.... to Toronto. We had planned to take an 8-10 day trip between May 9th-24th. It would begin with a drive to Niagara Falls and then Toronto. May was so rainy we just couldn't muster enough excitement to go through with it. As compensation, we opted to take 3 small trips that would be 2-3 days each. We hoped to take one more mini 2-day staycation in June, but we have run out of time.
July 16th we begin our 2011 art/craft show season. This will officially be Turn of the Century's 40th show season and possibly the last. We applied to five Ohio events and have been accepted to them all. Do not expect to hear from me through the summer months. The Berea Arts Fest, schedule for mid-Sept will be our final show. It's going to be a LONG summer. That's ok. You are going to be way too busy to notice my absence. Don't hesitate to submit pen reports. I will do my best to keep everyone up-to-date in Float Along.
You have patiently waded through all the pen news, now it's time to browse the lists.
I await your pen reports, orders and Lottery Wish Lists.
Wishing you, your family and friends a fantastic floaty summer.
To end on a summer note... Miranda Wittebol is already enjoying the season. June 13th she visited a butterly garden to see her favorite variety. She took this gorgeous photo.
Happy 66th Birthday
to Ron Lanyi
Go forward to Issue #70 posted Mon/Nov 14, 2011
Back up and read Issue #68 it posted Thurs/Feb 10, 2011
a star indicates an active 'clickable' link throughout this website
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11 am - midnight EST)
Copyright © Thurs/June 16, 2011 FloatAbout.com