Float About #73... Dedicated to Eskesen Float Pen Collectors
© Copyright Fri/Oct 26, 2012

Follow-Up to Issue #72
The June float pen lottery... was a great success. Getting packages shipped was a fiasco. By July 5th our temps were above 90 degrees (32+ Celsius). It was mid-August before we began to cool down, but temps in destination cities were rising. Too hot to safely ship float pens. October 15th, the final package shipped to Boca Raton, FL. I did a celebratory jig at the Post Office! It's not likely extreme temps will become the norm, but future lotteries will not be scheduled between July 1st-August 30th. Summer faded and now there's a refreshing nip in the air. The fall newsletter and lists are ready to launch. Enjoy.

News from Denmark, the Home of Float Pens...

The weekend of October 13th... 100 collectors, spouses and friends attended the 25th
West Denmark Pen Collectors Society meeting. Back in 1987, Finn Sørensen and two collectors
decided it was time to establish an official group.

Six of the original members are still active in the organization. Four of them attended the
25th Anniversary meeting and received commemorative pens. Pictured above, left to right:
Henrik Sudergaard, Kim Svendsen, Ole Nielsen, and President, Finn Sørensen.

Eskesen generously donated spectacular prizes for the event, including this sample book.

That's Kim Svendsen sporting the super cool Eskesen shirt.
Congratulations Kim! He won the Eskesen pens and display pictured above.
Everyone had a great time and they look forward to the 2013 event.

Factory News....
I contacted Kim Rasmussen, at Eskesen... hoping to glean some exciting news to share with floaty fans. Kim directed me to Eskesen.com. The site has been revamped since my last visit. Portuguese and Dutch have been added to their language choices. Eskesen has embraced and implemented cutting edge mobile technology. At the factory, two machines were added to the production floor. The first, a specialized washing machine, to remove oil from the surface of the pens. The second, pictured right, is a custom-made assembly machine. “Automating the assembly of the pens means increased productivity which strengthens the pricing of our products and also counters price increases. Eskesen is also now even more competitive on the delivery time. We can supply even large quantities of custom made pens within just 10 working days.” Great news.

Recent upgrades are well and good, but I know what concerns the avid Eskesen collector. In 2006 I supported Eskesen's decision to switch from photoramic imagery to digital. At that time it was obvious the quality of digital technology would soon meet and even eclipse traditional film processing... and it has. Today even die-hard 35mm buffs have gone digital. I assumed within a few years E's digital images would be comparable to our beloved photoramics. Sadly, it's six years later and we have seen minimal improvement. Why hasn't there been a giant leap in the quality of Eskesen digital images? I honestly don't know. Some designs are better than others, but overall the art remains pixelated. Patches of sky often have cross hatching and detailed designs are muddy with moire patterns. Click here for examples. Eskesen collectors are a patient bunch, with limits. The floaty community still looks to Eskesen first for float pens. Our loyalty hasn't wavered, but the digital quality continues to disappoint. Collectors are hungry for quality new float pen designs. Couple the quality issue with the lack of new E designs within our reach and it's really no wonder collectors are looking beyond E to fill their floaty needs.

On a more positive note... have you seen the three new metallic barrel colors added to E's color chart? They are posted on their website. I recommend visiting Eskesen.com on a regular basis to browse the catalogs, play with the configurator and fuel your floaty soul.

Pens Out and About...
Victoria B and her mother visited... The Bowers Museum in LA on June 24th. She reported, “They did not have any new pens, but they still have both of the designs from the Warriors, Tombs & Temples exhibit. They are well-priced at $2.50 apiece.” Call the Museum for more info: 714/567-3600.

Victoria found the digital version of the old Las Vegas Chorus Girl pen at the Las Vegas airport on another excursion. It was the only pen she found. In September Victoria visited a number of National Parks, but there weren't any new pen designs. Fingers crossed Victoria has better luck on her upcoming visit to see a Cleopatra museum exhibit.

Alicia Delahunty, accompanied by her family.... spent the better part of July touring the UK. The Lizard Lighthouse, in Cornwall's Lizard Point, was one highlight among many. Alicia's son bought a float pen for her at the gift shop. Alicia returned to get one for me! Yes, Alicia is both kind and thoughtful.

I didn't know anything about the site, but a quick trip to Wikipedia revealed some history. “A light was first exhibited from Lizard Point in 1619, but demolished in 1630. Trinity House took responsibility for the station in 1771. The Lizard Lighthouse was automated and demanned in 1998. The tower is 19 metres tall and range of light is 26 nautical miles (48 km). Opened in 2009 with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre is located in the lighthouse engine room, which still features some of the original engines. Interactive exhibits and displays focus on the history of the lighthouse, the life of a lighthouse keeper, and the role of lighthouses in sea safety.” The Lizard Lighthouse is one of several lighthouses protected by Trinity House, an organization dedicated to lighthouse preservation in the UK. The pen is not included in their online catalog, but this is their contact info: http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/commercial/gift_shop/index.html.

Early in June, Alicia .... went to a performance at the Lyceum in Alexandria, VA. “I found TWO floaties at the Lyceum. They depict two images of Alexandria. The first a railroad pen, the second a ship in the harbor.” You may order the pens directly from the Lyceum's online gift shop. They sell for $3.50 each, plus shipping/handling. This is a direct link... https://cheyenne.alexandriava.gov/cgi-bin/oha_shop.

That's not all. September 15th.... the Delahunty family toured the Ausable Chasm in the Adirondacks. Alicia was pleasantly surprised to find a site specific float pen. Delighted to see it's a photoramic! Are you familiar with the Ausable Chasm? According to their brochure, “Since 1870 over 10 million visitors have come to explore the scenic sights of the Ausable Chasm.” After reading the literature and exploring the website, I'm convinced this would be an amazing site to see. They are now open year-round offering winter hikes, snowshoeing and lantern tours, something for everyone. I did not see an online gift shop, but I assume arrangements can be made to ship a pen(s). A big “Thank you” to Alicia for the bounty of floaty information.

Contact Info: The Ausable Chasm, PO Box 390, 2144 Route 9, Ausable Chasm, NY 12911;
Phone (518)834-7454; Set your GPS coordinates; Latitude: 44.525149 Longitude: -73.462702

Christina Pleva Tompkins accomplished... the nearly impossible task of finding an Eskie pen in Italy! Christina and son Nicholas tagged along with hubby Matt for three weeks of work and some R&R. Christina recalls, “We drove out to a friend's place on the Mediterranean coast for the weekend and stopped at Pisa along the way. Neither Matt nor I, and, of course, Nicholas, had ever been there, so it was amazing to see! There were hundreds of little tourist stalls along the square, and low and behold, one of them was selling Eskesen floaty pens! It is the typical pen I have seen from Pisa, classic style with a horse and carriage floating past the cathedral and leaning tower, however, this one was digital, not photoramic. I peeked into several other stalls and discovered Italian and Chinese made pens, so I felt pretty lucky to have stumbled on the one I did!”

The family photo was taken at the top of Tremosine, along Lago di Garda. Unfortunately, only Italian made pens were available in the towns along the lake.

The Pisa design is the same as the original photoramic version, now in digital. Christina was encouraged to discover not all of the floaty pens in Italy are now of Italian or Chinese origin.

California collectors, Craig and Terri Wilson... spent a few summer weeks in the Canadian Rockies. “We're back from our Canada adventure, with only the pictures and a few souvenirs to remind us what a relief it was to be out of the triple-digit heat. It was funny, several places were so waterlogged and getting more rain daily, that they were apologizing. We told them we were loving the rain, cooler temperatures and fresh air so much, that we didn't mind the inconvenience at all. Later the second week, the Golden area got some temps in the 90s (F), so we must have brought them their first taste of summer.”

Aside from the forementioned benefits, the extra rain helped melt some of the snow on the trails, and the waterfalls were incredible. We didn't get to do most of the hikes I'd researched, but the ones we did instead more than made up for it. We're pretty hard to impress when it comes to waterfalls, living as close as we do to Yosemite, but what we saw in Yoho National Park definitely was in the same class. Just take a look at Takakkaw Falls, Laughing Falls, and Twin Falls, all of which we saw on the same day's hike.”

“Several of the places I looked for pens either had nothing new, or nothing at all, the most notable exception being Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, in British Columbia. Their new C-top was a welcome surprise.”

Craig had another lead... for three different digital designs from the Lake George Steamboat Company. He order them for himself and his closest traders. The price was right, only $5 each, but the pens were all wrong. They were not Eskies and one pen arrived with a giant bubble. Craig was not pleased with the quality. Thank you for reporting your finds Craig.

Sanrio alert!... Be aware all of the Sanrio pens pictured were made in China. Beverly Broadstone's sister, Edna, discovered the Keroppi pen in an LA Sanrio store for a steep $12. Soon after, Nobi Ochiai purchased the same design from a Japanese Sanrio store.

The three object float pens are currently available from Sanrio's USA online store for $6.95/pen, plus shipping. This is the same site where Beverly found the Patty and Jimmy pen for $9.50 a few issues back. The P&J pen has been clearanced to $6.65. If and when Sanrio has float pens... you will find them here: http://www.sanrio.com/index.cfm. Just search for ‘Pens’.

This adorable Hello Kitty in London pen was a gift from Nobi Ochiai. Super kawaii!

Beverly Broadstone discovered Kusama's... Dancing Pumpkin float pen on eBay. The pen, pictured below and right, was posted as a Buy it Now for $61.00. It's packaged in a custom cellophane box with decorative graphics. After a little research, Beverly found a second Yayoi design, pictured left. This one is available from the online catalog at The Whitney in NYC. Yayoi's image floats up and down over a polka-dotted wallpaper. “The Whitney Museum first exhibited Kusama's work in the Whitney's 2004 Biennial and then again in Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era, an exhibition organized by the Tate Museum, in 2005-06. The Whitney owns three of Kusama's works, including Fireflies on the Water, 2002.” The Whitney is selling the Yayoi image pen for $22, which also includes a presentation box. You could pop-in to the gift shop, or order directly online: (Sorry, Kusama pens are no longer in stock. Link removed June 2015.)

Curiosity led me to Wikipedia... for some background. “Yayoi Kusama, (born March 22, 1929), is a Japanese artist and writer. Throughout her career she has worked in a wide variety of mediums, including painting, collage, sculpture, performance art and environmental installations, most of which exhibit her thematic interest in psychedelic colors, repetition and pattern. A precursor of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements, Kusama influenced contemporaries such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Although largely forgotten after departing the New York art scene in the early 1970s, Kusama is now acknowledged as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan, and an important voice of the avant-garde.”

Collector, Nobi Ochiai, is quite familiar with Kusama's float pens. She has them all, plus a third design in her personal collection. The Love Forever pen, pictured right, was an earlier release available exclusively in the classic style. Nobi has a source in Japan for all three designs. Nobi had all three designs on her trade list, but the Dancing Pumpkin pens are gone. If there is enough interest, she is willing to purchase a small quantity for resale or trade. Nobi is willing to trade one Kusama design for 3 trade pens. You can contact her directly for details: nobuko1999@yahoo.com. Nobi found two of the Kusama designs in The Tate Gallery's (UK) online shop. (Link removed June 2015; Pens are gone!) The classic style Love Forever pen is £ 15 and the Yayoi Kusama twist n click is £ 20. Thanks Nobi. I am sure our UK collectors will appreciate having a neighborhood source.

Congratulations to Pittsburgh collector, Marisa Barna... on getting her business degree! Now she is shopping for a job, a good job. In between filling out applications and being interviewed, Marisa surfs the web. Exploring is a great distraction and has proven productive. “Thank you Marisa for all of the great info. Wishing you the best on the job front.”

The SHOP ART @ The National Gallery in the UK, offers The Fighting Temeraire floating action pen, inspired by the painting, pictured left. This pen sells for £ 3.95. Shipping charges unknown. Order here: http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/.

There are two Salvador Dali pens available from The Dali Museum Online Store. (Sorry, both designs have sold out. Link removed June 2015.)
Both pens were Eskies, marked 'Made in Denmark', digital, and very nice designs. $5.95 each; Shipping for one pen is about $9.45 and increases with quantity ordered!

From RedVikingEmporium.com... a Star Wars pen. According to their website, “Purchased directly at Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, FL – this item was available only at the convention. This stylish black pen features a floating depiction of Luke Skywalker inside of the healing bacta tank from The Empire Strikes Back.” It can be yours for $24.99! It's a C-Clip so I presume it is an Eskie. (Pen has since sold out; Link to site removed June 2015.)

Last, but not least.... the National Parks pen below.
Sells for $4.95 plus + $6.95 shipping!! + $2.08 tax, $13.98 total. OUCH.
Order from the (Link defunct; Removed June 2015.)
The only upside... all profits go to the National Parks.

Now Marisa needs our assistance... “Remember when Design, Design Co. made a series of 18 humor pens in February 2011? Well, I passed on them because of school, but now I am interested and they do not sell them anymore! Arrrgh. Can you include a plea in the newsletter for the two pens I want the most - the ‘There He Goes Playing with His Weiner (Dog) again’ and ‘What Happens Tonight Goes on Facebook Tomorrow’. Those are the two I want the most, but I remember that there were a few others I liked too.” I only wish I had them for her, but I don't. Hopefully someone in the floaty community purchased multiples for trade.

Collectors News...
For over 20 years, Worldwide Marketing... (aka Ideal Motion Promotion) was the premiere distributor/importer of float pens in the promotional products industry. The owner, Micale Maddox, designed some of our all-time favorite pens. The first that always springs to my mind is the Heinz ketchup flowing over a basket of fries. Through the years Worldwide created unique and quality designs for corporate giants like HP, Sony, American Airlines, UPS, HBO, FedEx.... and so many more.

Micale retired from the promotion industry a year ago and has since closed her website, FloatPens.com. In August Micale contacted me regarding the sale of her domain name. Yes, it is a GREAT name, perhaps the ultimate name for a float pen company or collector. If FloatAbout had a secure future, I would purchase FloatPens.com in a heartbeat. Since my little biz is destined to fade, I can't justify the expense. It's an amazing opportunity. Micale asked that I post notice of sale in the newsletter to give members of the floaty community first dibs. She is asking $1000, which is a bargain for an established domain. I imagine when people search for float pens their first instinct would be to try 'FloatPens.com'. (Soon after this newsletter posted... Eskesen purchased Micale's site.)

Tari M often travels with her husband, Rob... on business trips. Their agenda always includes a little fun. Tari relates, “We were in Grand Cayman and it is gorgeous there! We took a boat ride to Stingray City and got in the water with them. Although I did it very reluctantly (as in, I was the last one off the boat and it took some coaxing!), but I am glad I did it. Rob was thrilled. He was so proud of me!” Many of the gift shops were closed so Tari didn't have an opportunity to shop for float pens, but she did find eight tip n strips at the airport. They all had ‘Cayman Islands’ imprinted on the barrel.

Nancy Nerenberg sent this photo to me... way back in May. When it came time to post issue #72, I lost sight of it. Sorry I didn't include it earlier. Nancy's girlfriend was staying at the Stellar House B&B in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Knowing Nancy is a serious float pen collector, her girlfriend snapped this pic. According to Nancy's friend, “The collector is the owner of the B&B, her husband made the cabinet. The middle section spins around.” Pretty cool!

October 20th I contacted Doug Yeo... to see how their family move to Phoenix was going. Doug quickly replied, “I love my new position at Arizona State University - I have a studio of talented, hard working students and it's very rewarding to work with them. We have completed all of the work on our house and it is a delight to finally just be enjoying it with everything all set. Pat and I got away last weekend over the ASU fall break to the Grand Canyon for a few days of hiking.

Doug snapped this photo Saturday, October 13th just before sunset. “Such inexpressible beauty! But, alas, no floaty pens at the GC. Not a surprise, as we are seeing fewer and fewer pens at the places where we used to find a mother lode. But nothing could take away from our sense of wonder and awe over the Grand Canyon, a place we have been to many times but which never ceases to amaze!”

Lots of activity in the... floaty community. Doug's daughter, Linda, will marry next spring. Andy Balbus took his family to the Baltics for a summer fling. Dorothy Bater is anxiously looking forward to the birth of her second grandchild. Gwen Garabedian is recovering nicely from a recent surgery. Harris Lindenfeld is taking big steps towards retirement. Miranda Wittebol danced on the streets of Amsterdam with her folk dancing group. Miranda is wearing sunglasses, a white T and tennies with denim shorts. Linoleum installation has been delayed until spring, otherwise the Carriere family cottage restoration is complete. FloatAbout turns 17 this month. Sandy Curin, now retired from Topline Products, is celebrating her birthday today. It's all good!

Floaty Tips n Tricks...
Collectors frequently ask... “What kind of scanner do you use?” By today's standards, my HP 3970 is considered antiquated, but it continues to serve me well. A few weeks ago, our local thrift store had one for $5. It followed me home to serve as a back-up unit. However, you will need something up-to-date.

When Beverly Broadstone was looking for a scanner last year, UK floaty collector, Susan Russell, recommended that Beverly shop for a scanner with ‘CCD’ features rather than ‘CIS’. Beverly shared the tip with me, but it was Google that explained it. There was enough technical information to make my head spin. Bottom line, if you want quality results when scanning 3-D objects, here's what you need to know.

CCD is short for a ‘charge-coupled device’. This technology is better suited for scanning 3-D objects like float pens, jewelry, books, basically anything that isn't flat. Three-in-one and no-frills scanners often have a CIS ‘contact image sensor’ under the hood. I would advise steering clear of 3-in-one units and find a dedicated flat-bed scanner with a CCD sensor. Read the specs on the box carefully. CCD scanners usually plaster “Scans 3-D Objects” right on the box. Don't be afraid to discuss your needs with sales staff or consult the manufacturer. No matter the brand, every scanner comes with a software package on board. The Epson V330 offers a photo restoration option to bring old photos back to life. Greenies will be happy to see modern scanners have incorporated LED technology.

As for specific models, Beverly exclaimed, “I like my scanner! It's the Epson Perfection V30. We bought it at Office Max for $99. It is easy to use and scans quickly.” Epson has since discontinued the V30 for the updated Epson V330, the unit that Craig Wilson just purchased. He said, “I haven't taken time to check it out completely, but it seems to be what I needed. It's not as fast as my last scanner, but has some nice newer features.” Both units clearly state they will scan 3-D objects. I noticed the V330 is getting excellent online reviews across the board.

There are other features to consider, like resolution. The higher the dpi (dots per inch), the better the image. 4800 x 9600 dpi seems to be the current standard, don't settle for anything less. More expensive models boast 6400 x 9600 dpi, but you will pay $50-$80 extra. For scanning 3-D objects look for a high-rise or a 180 degree lid to accommodate thick objects, like float pens, or books. Any unit that features 3-D capability will easily handle your photos, documents and the like. Epson.com currently offers the Perfection V330 for $79. Between Amazon, Office Max, Staples and other online distributors, the prices range from $83-$109. No matter what the brand, you can research specs, pricing and reviews online before you buy.

From experience I can tell you scanning float pens is a tedious task. These tips should ease your frustration. Start with a good cleaning. The pens and the glass in the scanner must be dust free. Otherwise you will spend a lot of time trying to eliminate dust and smudges from your images. To prevent pens from rolling, clip the pens to a piece of white cardboard. If you don't have white, just slip a piece of white paper between the pens and the cardboard to brighten the light reflection.

Place a large sheet of bright white paper over the pens and close the scanner lid. In lieu of a large sheet, tape four pieces of standard 8.5 x 11 inch together. I prefer 65# card stock because it is more durable and opaque than 20# copy paper. The paper should cover the pens and extend three to four inches beyond the body of the scanner. The paper reflects light during the scanning process. Draping over the edges helps prevent ambient light from seeping in.

If your scanned pen images have a glare line that runs the length of the art window, you need to turn the pens 45 degrees and scan again. The light band in my scanner runs horizontally and travels up and down under the glass, as depicted in the diagram. If the position of the pen is parallel to the band of light, you will get the glare line. Whether your light moves horizontally or vertically, if you turn the pen(s) perpendicular to the light you will eliminate the annoying glare line. Most important... scanning and playing with images is an extremely creative activity... have fun!

It's time for the 2012 October Duplicates Lottery.
To participate, read the Lottery Details now.
I am accepting wish lists now through the deadline date.
This is flea market weekend so I will be out all day Saturday and Sunday.
Sat & Sunday confirmation emails will go out after 8pm. Monday I resume a normal schedule.
DEADLINE is 6:00pm (EST) Tues/Oct 30, 2012
Browse the Duplicates Category to see what's being offered.
There are 300+ designs!
Remember, the lottery applies exclusively to the Duplicates Category.
All other categories are handled on a first come-first served basis.

On the Homefront...

The calendar tells me we are nearing the end of October. It's easy to deny, until I look out the window. Ready or not, autumn is here and winter right behind. The hummingbirds are long gone. The Goldfinch are losing their luster. When I took the photo above there was one lone buzzard in the sky. The rest have headed South. Come January, we are going to wish we had followed them.

Bill experimented with new bulbs this spring. Much to our delight, the Dahlias are still blooming. The alien looking blossom in the center is a Bishop's Cap cacti, destined to become part of the landscape at Doug Yeo's new place. Flowers always brighten my mood, thought they might do the same for you.

In the USA, the 2012 election is right around the corner. We have suffered through months of mudslinging and media madness. One thing we can all agree on... we've had enough! Vote smart, avoid the lines and vote early.

Now the holiday season approaches and for some that will include travel. For most it means family gatherings and celebrations with friends and loved ones. We will enjoy a fabulous Thanksgiving feast with our close friends, the Brights. It's an annual tradition we really look forward to. I so hope the season will be good to you and yours.

Traditionally an issue of FloatAbout posts around Valentine's Day, February 14th. That's a reasonable target date. In the meantime, please report your floaty finds. Now more than ever collectors depend on pen leads to feed their collections. Before I forget... Kudos to Miranda. She now has 13,000+ float pens in her collection! I trust you will enjoy going through the duplicates and preparing your wish lists. For those that choose not to participate in the lottery, remember, when the lottery is over, all remaining pens will be posted on a first-come first-served basis.

Whatever you do, wherever you go... float gently on your journey.


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

Take me to Issue #74 of FloatAbout.
Back up and read Issue #72, it posted in Sat/June 23, 2012
Link Symbol a star indicates an active 'clickable' link throughout this website

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