You have certainly seen these pens at sometime or another. You might know them better as water/oil pens or floating pens. In the upper part of the pen you can find an image like a boat or an airplane, which moves up and down. Others feature an item that appears then disappears. For example, a bathing suit falls on and off of a woman. Almost everybody has a sample lying around the house. Picture of Miranda
Since 1946 the Eskesen factory has been in Danish Store Merlose. In general, the Eskesen pens are considered the most beautiful. The founder of the factory, Peder Eskesen, was not the inventor of this pen. In fact, floaty pens already existed, but they had leakage problems. He found a solution to this problem. This solution was and is still a big secret.
In 1996 the factory celebrated their 50th anniversary and for this occasion they created a special pen with their mascot Eskie inside. This pen was sent to collectors and customers.
Eskesen has 90% of the world market in their hands and makes about 50 new pens a week! Their best known product is the Tip and Strip pen, where a lady puts her bathing suit on and off. The classic floaty pen has a transparent part with a floater inside, called a photoramic ® image (registered trademark of Eskesen). Other floaty products include: toothbrushes, letter openers, keyrings, keyring-pens, rulers, bottle-openers and screwdrivers.
A floaty pen can have 28 parts: barrel, transparent part, floater, background of floater, foreground, caption, clip, top, band and the twist part, where the ballpoint comes out when you want to write.
A floaty pen is made in a very special way. A design is suggested, then a drawing is made. From the drawing they make pictures and they shrink them into little pieces of 35 mm film. A specialized machine cuts these films (the floater) and puts them on a small track in the transparent part of the pen. The background film is placed behind the floater. Sometimes they also place a film in the foreground to give the pen more depth. Then the pen is filled with oil and sealed.
All the separate parts go to the employees of Eskesen and they assemble the pens in their homes. All Eskesen pens get the factory logo or the text 'Made in Denmark' on the clip. If you want to make your own floaty pen then you have to order at least 1000 of them.
Miranda Wittebol from Amersfoort is a fierce collector of the Eskesen floaty pen. She has collected these pens for 15 years and has a collection of 2,600 different pens. 'I still find a lot new pens and over the years I became more fanatic in my search for them. A couple times I have seen new floaty pens at a collectors fair. The price was 35 guilders ($17) a piece, I think that is too expensive. New floaty pens cost about 5 guilders ($3). Sometimes I will spend more for a special floaty'.
'After their holiday, family, friends and colleagues often bring beautiful floaty pens back with them for me. I bought my first pen in Phantasialand in Germany as a souvenir. I liked it so much that soon I also wanted to have them from other places. During School trips and day trips the souvenir shop soon became an important attraction. Later I got to know other collectors and learned how much fun it is to trade. Your collecting mania grows and your can share your experience with each other. These contacts sometimes grow into good friendships'.
'With a production of 50 pens a week you have a big supply. There are all kinds of categories of floaty pens. Tourist attractions, events, businesses, birth announcements, animals, country locations, cartoon figures, Disney and so on. My favorites are the ones from Disney and tourist attractions, because those often have beautiful drawings'.
My favorite pen is from Texel where a seal appears from the sea and then disappears again. Eskesen floaty pens/items represent examples in and from every category. There are also collecters who only collect pens with a certain object, like trains or just cartoon figures'.
Through the new medium the internet, I entered a whole new world. Thanks to e-mail I am in touch with collecters from all over the world. I trade a lot more now and my collection has been doubled! Verzamel.net is also very helpful'.
'There is also a float pen collectors newsletter which comes out 4 to 6 times a year', tells Miranda. 'This is written by a collector from America. She has a homepage on the internet where you can read Float About, but you can also get Float About by mail. It's very funny that through Float About collectors have made their own pen'. Miranda participated in the project with 22 fellow collectors. 'The floater is a floaty pen. On the caption panel you find the names of the 22 collectors. The background features 5 different collectors, including me'.
I have also made my own floaty pen design for 3 shops in Amersfoort. The pen has the Koppelpoort as the background, the Kei in the foreground and the floater is a boat from the Waterlijn. I always wanted a floaty pen from Amersfoort and it was a challenge to design one of my own.
Through the internet site Float About or the print version of it, collecters can meet or come together at meetings. Float About is a place were a lot of collecters come together and the homepage has lots of helpful addresses for Floaty pens'.
Two of Miranda's Pen Displays
Besides Eskesen there are also other companies that make floaty pens. For example, Italian pens. These are fatter and are stamped with 'Italy'. Their biggest weakness is they break easily. They are also made in China. The Asian versions have drawings with little detail. The clips are marked 'Made in China'. These clips rust very fast, which makes them look less appealing. In the East, the pens have a pointed top and crooked clip. The drawings are very simple and without detail. Miranda has a clear opinion about these pens. 'I don't like them and I have very few of them in my collection. I prefer Eskesen pens! They have more detail, better colors, they are more solid and original!'
Would you like to know more about floaty pens? Do you have floaty pens at home, but have no use for them? Write to me at:
Bosweg 55 C
3817 ZE Amersfoort