Feet don't fail me now!... It's time to get this issue up and running. Yes, it is late and I apologize. So without any further hesitation, let us...
Reach for the Moon... MoonPie that is. Shortly after issue #33 posted I received word of a MoonPie pen. I suspect these marshmallow sandwiches are somewhat of a regional treat. For those of you that do not live in coal country and others unfamiliar with this lunch box treat... a little history. The text below was borrowed directly from the Bakery's website.
“Around 1917, a traveling salesman for Chattanooga Bakery was visiting a company store that catered to the coal miners. He asked the workers what they might enjoy as a snack. They said they wanted something for their lunch pails that would be filling and taste good. When asked about what size the snack should be, a miner held out his hands to frame the moon and said, ‘About that big!’. With that idea in mind, the salesman headed back to the bakery, where he noticed some workers dipping big graham cookies into marshmallow. He thought this looked like a good tasting combination, so he added another cookie for a lid and covered it in chocolate.” And thus, the birth of the MoonPie, which maintains it's popularity to this day.
MoonPie fans are absolutely crazy about them. Some years back, the band NRBQ even commemorated the snack in their song, RC Cola and a MoonPie. Recently 1,200 float pens were made for in-house distribution. I persuaded John Campbell to part with a few, but I paid retail, so don't get sticker shock when you see the $5 price tag. This is a fresh batch direct from the Bakery and in very short supply. Only one pen per collector please.
The Rijksmuseum pens... also arrived just a day or so after issue #33 was released. I added them to the list right away, but I know many of you missed them. This is a spectacular set of three that represents the works of famous Dutch painters. The complete set is just $10.
Before we take another step...
a few words from Eskesen's Marketing Department. “The marketing team wishes to thank the collectors and Float About for the many kind notes we received regarding last years' Christmas card. It is always nice to receive feedback from y'all and we are glad you liked it. In recent months we have had visits from several collectors a.o. from the US and Japan. If any of you are ever in Denmark please do not hesitate to let us know and do plan a visit to our factory. We'll give you a factory tour and
show you some of our little secrets. Some time later this year we will have a special treat for our fans world-wide but it is a little premature to reveal any details at this point. The only thing we can say for sure is: You don't wanna miss this one!”
ESKESEN A/S - Marketing Team
Pia R. Daugaard & Kim Hansen-Thybjerg
Factory News Continues... Brian said the factory did not schedule an open house this year. He tells me, “Originally, we talked about every other year, but a new open day has not been planned.” I am sure their 60th anniversary, in 2006, will warrant a celebration. Brian also informs me that Marks & Spencers, an English chain store, will offer a Bart Simpson playing soccer float pen and another English character called Poppy. The pens will be individually carded. In addition, it looks like Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue will have a custom float pen made. Sorry, I do not foresee carrying any of these pens, but perhaps you can pick them up in your cyber or real-world travels.
Within a few hours Kristen Marino and Diane Trinque both... emailed notice of a float pen article from an Internet publication. Ron McCoy, editor of Antiques & Collecting Newsletter, featured Fun, Functional Floaty Pens, in his March 15th, 2002 Volume 6, Number 16 newsletter.
Veteran collector Libby Spatz of Los Angeles was one of the first floaty collectors I encountered. I have always considered Libby a pioneer of float pen collecting. I was tickled to see her page highlighted in this article. After a trip to Libby's website, Ron revealed some of the reasons float pens are so attractive to collectors. “For the most part, floaty pens are cheap and readily available, and the vast range of subject matter floating in the oil makes them a near-perfect collectible.” He included the link to Libby's Website, which is a fine place in cyberspace. Ron ends the article with "Because of the affordability of the pens, this might be a wonderful means by which to turn a child into a collector! He is absolutely right about that. Read the float pen article (NOTE: Sorry, link defunct; Removed May 2015) and while you are there, sign-up to receive Ron McCoy's free online newsletter.
On Valentine's Day... Eagle-eye Beverly Broadstone reported, “I can't exactly remember what the segment was about on the program 20/20, but I saw a student using a floaty pen while listening to a professor's lecture. I noticed it because it was a pink pen, and he was sitting in the foreground.” I would almost bet Beverly was the only one watching that noticed the pen. Am I right?
Jet Lag, Shopping Malls and the Search for Home... are all part of Pico Iyer's book, The Global Soul. Check out that cover! London collector, Susan Eisen, brought the book to my attention. Susan had just returned from a flea market where she failed to find one float pen, but she did bring home a copy of the book. No, unfortunately for us, the book does not even reference float pens. The pens were simply used to illustrate our shrinking planet/global soul.
The back cover (sorry, no photo available) shows the caption panels of the pens featured on the front cover. It's no wonder USA collectors haven't noticed this publication. After a quick search of Amazon.com Susan discovered the UK cover is totally different than the American version. The UK cover is available through www.Amazon.uk.co at just below list price. UK Amazon is offering the hardcopy for £ 13.59 and the paperback for £ 7.19. Remember, international shipping charges will be added. If you know someone that makes regular trips to the UK, the book is easy to find. Brian from Eskesen, said he purchased his copy at the Heathrow Airport. He is fairly certain a couple of the pens pictured are of Chinese origin, but the others are Eskesen. Craig Wilson points out minor differences between thehardcopy and paperback versions. Be sure to choose the one you really want. Susan... thanks so much for the tip.
Miranda Wittebol has now amassed... over 7,000 Eskesen float pens, with no end in sight. I wish Miranda many more happy trades. I expect 10,000 is in her near future.
California collector, Kimberly Dougherty provided... a copy of the March 12th issue of The Orange County Register. It features an article entitled You can have plenty of things to remember you by. Author Richard Chin writes “Real immortality in pewter and plastic knickknacks beckons - as long as you pay the price.” He has a theory that if you are going to experience 15 minutes of fame in your lifetime, why not have something tangible as a remembrance? He refers to it as a “souvenir for you”.
Richard's explorations netted a couple of personalized possibilities. His list begins with custom floaty pens. He chose Rachel's bat mitzvah, the Lindenfeld Family Reunion, Blue Balls, Jessica and Jeff's Key West wedding and Sarah Garrett's nuptial pens as examples. Nancy Nerenberg's Float Art website and Float About received mention too. For the right price, Richard claims you can have custom squished pennies, desktop replica buildings fashioned from pewter, or sensational sweetheart candies from Necco made just for you. However, at this time custom bobble-heads remain out of reach.
Mr Chin was right about... float pens. Our pens have been used to promote business, give punch to political campaigns, commemorate events, even memorialize celebrities. That is all well and good, but what really brings it home is that YOU don't have to be a celebrity, politician or business owner to have your very own custom float pen. The most personal pens of all are the wedding, anniversary, reunion, b-day and just-for-fun pens created by individual collectors and enthusiasts. Wedding pens are probably the most popular pen in these categories. Custom orders from scratch still require a minimum of 550+ pens to be made. Yes, it can be pricey, depending on the style of pen and design you create.
You dream of a wedding pen, but simply can't afford $700 or more to realize that dream? Most designers carry at least one generic wedding design.
The names of the newlyweds and the wedding date can be tastefully applied to the barrel of the pen. For example... for just under $200 you can have 100 pens in the design above imprinted. These are traditionally given to guests at the wedding, so the caption panel, on the backside of this pen reads ‘Love and Kisses’ flanked by hearts and flowers. There is a detailed foreground as well, but not shown in this photo. Orders for this pen require a minimum of 100 pens and 4-6 weeks advance notice to imprint. (Insiders Note: the would-be generic couple in this pen is actually the owner of Worldwide Marketing (The Ideal Motion Promotion), Micale Maddox and her hubby Bary. Micale submitted the design to Eskesen and they took the liberty of applying familiar faces.) If you would like to pursue having a custom pen made refer to the Designer List.
Remember in the last issue I was whining about pens lost, found and lost again? Apparently in our haste to gather the Christmas wrap, boxes and bows we accidentally scooped up the Dutch collectors pens. The design features Eskie carrying a pen through a field of blooming tulips. The names of the collectors involved in the project are neatly arranged on the caption panel. Find it under New Arrivals.
While reading issue #33... Mr Zanat, the famous French collector, sensed my frustration and dismay. He decided I was in need of a commendation. He presented me with this “Best Pen Site - 2002” award. It is created from a handsome block of marble. Zanat's image has been cut from plastic and detailed, I presume, by laser. The plate has four lines of text: ‘The Best Site of - S.I.M.S. 2002 - Diana Andra - Offered by Mr Zanat’. A clear cup awaits my favorite pens. It will take a while to decide which SIMS are most worthy of this position. Mr Zanat... what a grand gesture.
My gift arrived about 10 days after the newsletter posted. Amazingly things began to turn around immediately upon receipt of my trophy. The Dutch collector pens surfaced and new designs began to roll in. I was able to obtain more of the Eskesen Christmas pens. (Remember I ruined the first batch by leaving them on top of a heater.) The award was just the touch of magic that I needed. Thank you Mr Zanat! (S.I.M.S., something like Stylo Image Mobile Souvenir=floaty pens)
Green and Purple Heinz Ketchup ... big splash or ... splat? The conceal/reveal pens were definitely a big hit. I did receive varied reviews regarding colored ketchup. Apparently there are many families that are enjoying the new colors, but this story from Cindy Raines was simply too funny to keep to myself. Her tale begins... “I can't believe I'm telling you this story... I missed the purple ketchup when it came out, so HAD to buy the green. My husband and two sons refused to eat it because it didn't look right, and no way were they going to put it on hot dogs! I got the bright idea of using it up in a meatloaf. BIG mistake. I use oatmeal in my meatloaf. Most folks that have eaten it say my meatloaf is great. Anyway, when I put it in the oven, I wondered a bit about the slight green hue. After it baked, it was bright green, and the oatmeal looked like little bugs! That thing looked SOOOOOO nasty that nobody would eat it. So, I'd really like to have one of the Heinz green ketchup pens to remind my family about my creative cooking.” I don't know Cindy... you may have stumbled on the perfect main dish for St Patrick's Day, or better yet... Halloween.
Finn Sørensen was interviewed... on National Danish Radio, probably because his collection of pens and pencils has reached 150,000 (no, not all float pens). Finn reports, “The interview lasted 8 minutes, and the highlight was my interest in floater pens. As a sample I brought along my Earning Your Presidential Kneepads pen - as I knew it would appeal very much to Danish humour! Well, - IT DID!”
Finn is always surprised to find Danes that are unfamiliar with Eskesen. It didn't take him long to convince everyone that Eskesen is truly a National reasure. ”One of the topics we touched upon was getting so many new friends through this hobby. I was given a set of pens from the National Danish Radio that I - much to their surprise - did not have in my collection! They aren't floater pens - but then: You can not have it all, can you? I spoke to many people afterwards who enthusiastically told me they had heard the interview - a lady even brought me some pens!“ Good for Finn and great for Eskesen!
Dutch collector Ber te Mebel... was interviewed for the March 2nd edition of the Der Gelderlander newspaper. Ber lives in Zutphen and for many years collected childrens' books. That all changed when he purchased his first float pen in December of 2000 in a souvenir shop on the Boulevard of Scheveningen. Just like the rest of us... Ber has been bitten by the floaty bug. After the newspaper article appeared, Ber was approached by a regional radio station. He agreed to be interviewed and share his new-found float pen knowledge with area listeners.
Ber is convinced that this kind of float pen awareness could influence new collectors and encourage museums and souvenir shops to invest. From experience I know this to be true. Due to back problems, travel is very difficult for Ber, but the Internet has opened a whole new avenue to his collecting opportunities. He is currently in the process of building his own website. In the future he will post all the details from both interviews, list his collection and more, but be patient. This is a new venture for Ber. Email email@example.com. Ber will provide you with a link to his website when it is ready.
Be sure to welcome Didier Desniou to the Trader's List. Didier lives in France and we have traded pens several times over the last few years. You might remember his wooden pen cabinet that was featured in Issue #19 of Float About back in 1999.
Float Pen Displays...
Introducing a new display... at a special price, for a limited time. Bill and I are very fortunate to live within reach of the Sauder Woodworking Company. They are one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the midwest. We own several pieces of Sauder furniture, but when in need of inspiration we like to visit their seconds store. They always have a large selection of discontinued models, but I go straight for the ,em>spare parts inventory. I immediately focused my attention on a stack of desk feet. I know that doesn't sound very promising, but look what materialized...
The rows are NOT drilled in a radial pattern. The holes are drilled facing straight forward, but staggered and angled for an optimum view. Eskesen classic, twist n click and clicker styles all fit. This is complicated by the varying diameters from style to style. The perfect sized hole to accommodate them all becomes an illusive notion. So, some pens will hold tighter than others.
The first 18 units are fully assembled and ready to ship. I am offering them at an introductory price of $20 each. If that seems stiff, the price includes Priority shipping. I want to get these into the hands of collectors and get some feedback before I go back to drilling. Sorry, no international orders (at this time). The design had such promise that Bill and I made a trip back to the factory to purchase all of their remaining inventory. Sorry, due to combined cost of materials, time and new postal rates, the next batch will be even more expensive.
I really want to mention the boys at Sauder. Tim, Howard and Bob were extremely helpful. They had some wonderful suggestions and their knowledge of available materials was simply amazing. “Thanks for everything guys! Hey Pedro... sorry we missed you this time around.”
Pens Past, Present and Future...
Home, Home on the range... where never is heard a discouraging word (well, almost never). It isn't hard to imagine the horrific human and environmental impact the attacks of September 11th had on New York City and DC. What isn't so obvious is the effects to the souvenir industry. The attacks took place during what should have been the last few months of the tourist season. Travel for business and pleasure, came to a standstill across the entire country. So did the souvenir trade.
Lynda Burstein just returned from a trip ... to Baltimore for a conference. She had a couple of extra days to train to D.C. to take in some museums and galleries. She had disturbing information. “I was surprised and alarmed to see that there were no floaty pens anywhere! Not at the Smithsonian Museums, not at any of the national monuments, not at any of the tourist carts, and not anywhere in Baltimore except for one
at the National Aquarium.”
Beverly Broadstone reports a nearby... Los Angeles duty-free store selling a huge variety of pens and souvenirs. “I have seen versions of floaties from Italy, China, and Hong Kong... and now unhappily from Taiwan". Her description, "It does have the image window, and a floater, just like the Italian pens, including the very crude drawings. It's even wider than the Italian pen, but shorter. The width of the pen must be an inch wide, and approx 5 inches long. The plastic clip is attached to the cap of the pen. Kinda like the basic Bic pen. They were charging $4 for this insulting pen.”
The pen that Beverly describes is a photo image pen, but this is yet another version with an object instead of photo inside. This Betty Boop pen came to me from Ron Lanyi. Ron often sends odd and interesting pens he finds in his travels. It is unusual to find a copycat pen that doesn't have a huge bubble in it. Yet, this pen is very unusual in that it contains a licensed character. I do remember the Crocodile Hunter had a similar pen on the shelves at Wal-Mart. It had a floating alligator. The cap on the pen pictured looks very odd, only because it is SO big and the cap material is clear.
Lee Williams, of Pennsylvania... received a pair of floaty chopsticks that were made in France! Is everyone trying to manufacture floating action products?
Disney offering Chinese copycats... at their parks!? I wish I could remember who told me they recently visited one of the Disney parks in the USA and found Chinese rather than Eskesen float pens for sale. If you are listening... please refresh my memory.
Yes... all of this is depressing, but don't get too discouraged. The official tourist season doesn't really kick-off until mid-May. It is likely souvenir stands are holding off to see if travel is going to increase. They are wise to be cautious. The distributors and designers that I have spoken to are confident things will cycle back to normal, it is just going to take awhile. For all good things, we must wait.
In the meantime... there is something we can do when we travel. This is a question I hear a lot. “When I ask a clerk if they sell floaty pens they look at me as though I'm crazy. How can I make them understand what I want?” I always carry an Eskesen classic, twist n click and clicker with me when I travel. I approach a sales person and ask if they carry float pens ‘like these’ and present my examples. Understand some of the clerks have never seen a float pen before so I always give them a demonstration of the floating action and note the stamp on the clip includes the word ‘Denmark’. I go on to explain that I am a member of a large community of float pen collectors and we are always on the look-out for float pens.
If they have pens, they lead me directly to their stash. If the pens are of Italian or Chinese origin I do not hesitate to show my disappointment. I point out the differences in the quality of the artwork between the Eskesen pens and copycats so they understand why only Eskesen will do. If they do not have float pens, at least they have a new souvenir to consider. The Anatomy of a Float Pen page has been updated to aid you with pen identification.
Alaska pens have been removed... from the endangered species list. Another distributor has picked up the line of Alaska designs so they are not going to disappear.
Mr Zanat was instrumental... if not totally responsible for a Millennium pen that includes a photo of Peder Eskesen in the foreground and a picture of Mr Zanat as the floater. Five other float pen collectors are featured in the caption panel. Yours truly, Miranda Wittebol and Finn Sørensen are names you will surely recognize. I only have a couple of them, but I would bet Mr Zanat has them for trade, as well as other designs. If you wish to contact him, find his email address on the Collectors United page.
Micale Maddox of Worldwide Marketing... to the rescue. I had just a handful of new designs for this issue when I received a surprise package from Micale. She cleaned out her sample boxes and sent the extra pens my way! I know you are going to enjoy the Diet 7UP, Hoag Hospital, Target Construction and all of the others. It is my pleasure to share them with you. She sure knows how to spoil us! Thank you Micale for filling in a lot of blanks in my inventory, collection and sharing your wonderful designs.
The new list also includes several entries from Nancy Nerenberg's Float Art. Miranda is totally responsible for getting the Dutch collectors pen here. In the last issue I gave away the Eskesen holiday pen that I overheated. They each developed a bubble. I have since purchased another small batch that are in perfect condition. I can not afford to give them away, but I will offer them at a special price for those that missed them... just $1.50 while they last! I am not going to go into detail about the pens on this list... go directly to the New Arrivals category. You know the way from there.
Stop the Presses...
I was putting the finishing touches... on this newsletter around 11pm Thursday night when I noticed two emails in my mailbox. First note from Anne Burke, then moments later Lisa Goodwin checked in. They were both extremely excited about a brand new episode of CSI, Crime Scene Investigation which aired just an hour before.
Since Anne was first, I will give her account... “This week the murder weapon was a floaty pen. An old woman stabbed in the heart with a twist and click over a cat. It made me cry to see my favorite collectible tainted on the #1 rated TV show in America.” Yikes. Now Lisa's turn... “A floaty pen was actually found to be the murder weapon in a case they were investigating. I couldn't believe it. It was one of the really new twist and clicks with the bright see through barrel. I hope that you saw it.”
Well, I had not seen it... yet. I often record prime time TV so Bill and I can pick and choose what we want to watch when he comes up from the workshop. We settled in about 1:30am to do my TV homework. Even though I knew the ending, it didn't soften the chilling brutality. I don't want to give it all away, as you will have a chance to see it soon. An elderly woman is indeed murdered. The weapon of choice was an Eskesen slanted top twist n click floaty.
If you missed last night's show, CSI is wrapping up their season so I am sure it will rerun soon. The name of the episode is Cats in the Cradle, episode #220. Check your local TV listings for details. I expected to awake to 20 more notices of this sighting. Instead, just one email arrived overnight... from Christina Pleva. Thanks for the notice ladies. I remember many issues back a report of a float pen being used to perform a tracheotomy to save a life. Now it has been used to take a life. Better known as coming full circle. Surely our next sighting will be less violent.
Issue #35 is due to post... around June 27th. I am not going to make any promises. Our craft show season will begin early this year. The weekend of May 3rd Bill and I will display and sell our wares at the Quail Hollow show, near Canton, Ohio. If the weather holds, we may stay over an extra night and visit the Hartville Flea Market on Monday. Orders that arrive in our absence will be shipped as soon as possible upon our return.
This will be the first time we have abandoned our newest cat, Kobey, for more than a few hours. The kitties are left in the very capable hands of our housesitters, but I know all three felines are going to miss us. We have two Ohio shows in May, another in June. Mid July we will participate in the Oakbrook Craft Invitational in Oakbrook, Illinois. We have applied to several events beyond that, but have yet to receive acceptance or rejection notices.
While we are busy producing and doing art fairs, I hope you will be enjoying exciting vacations and safe travel. Don't forget to carry your samples. Happy hunting! I will get the next issue posted as close to deadline date as possible.
As Jimi Hendrix has been known to say... “You've got me floatin'!”
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 or fax 419/529-3354
Copyright © April/2002 Float About... Diana Andra