Outside of paying off our credit cards... the holiday season has faded into oblivion for most of us. However, the winter season persists with a vengeance. That's ok. Winter comes, winter goes. At the end we will be rewarded with spring. On-going projects have recently taken Bill and I in/out of our local DIY stores. Shelves left empty by holiday shoppers are being replenished with garden supplies, outdoor furnishings and construction materials. That is a sure sign spring is right around the corner. Snow or no, there is plenty going on in the floaty community. Since this newsletter is way beyond overdue, I promise to keep this moving.
Follow-up to Issue #61...
For those that have been ... patiently waiting for the final word regarding the cause of Graham Jacob's sudden demise, I have the answer. Glyn, a dear friend of Graham's, contacted me early in January to say, ”The inquest into Graham's death revealed he died of a heart attack.” Knowing the cause doesn't diminish the tragedy, but it finally puts our questions to rest. Our deepest sympathy to Graham's family, friends and fellow collectors. Thank you Glyn for keeping us informed and providing this picture of Graham. It's perfect!
Once in awhile, even Eskesen... makes a mistake. We refer to these faulty floaties as bloopers. Some collectors find these misfits most appealing and humorous. Regina Merwin, at Operagraphics, had an amusing story about her Carmen pens. Regina received the pens just in time for the holidays. After a quick exam, she shipped the pens to her retailers. A couple of days passed and Regina got a call from a client at an opera company. The client exclaimed, amid gales of laughter... “We're not doing THAT version of Carmen!” Regina immediately examined her remaining Carmen inventory. She quickly discovered the error. In the correct version, sexy Carmen dances up/down from Don Jose to the bullfighter, Escamillo. In this rare and alternative version, “Carmen is stationary in the center foreground. Hunky Escamillo drifts right past Carmen to comfort the raging Don Jose.”
Regina elaborated, “I should have worn my new glasses. That I was looking at all 3 figures, and that the bullfighter starts out with his head up Carmen's dress should have been a tip-off something was wrong. I ran around replacing the alternative-lifestyle pens from my retailers and found that many pens had been sold with no complaints! I am offering the misprint at a reduced price of $5.50, plus S/H” The photos were borrowed, with permission, from Operagraphics. The link below will take you to Regina's site where you can purchase the correct/incorrect version of the Carmen pens and many more opera floaty pens. http://www.operagraphics.com/pencarmen.php
Just hours after issue #61 posted... Marisa Barna contacted me via email. I included this information in Float Along, but you may have missed it. “I wanted to tell you that I found this link online tonight about Susan Baker's TV spot with floaties. I thought I'd send it to you just in case Susan didn't. It is an interesting read if we can't actually watch the real episode.” Thanks Marisa! (Sorry, page is down; Link removed June 2015.)
Susan is willing to trade a DVD of her TV appearance in exchange for interesting floaty pens. You can communicate with Susan directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support our sister from down under and get your DVD today. This is an opportunity to own a little piece of floaty pen history. Bill and I both enjoyed the program and Susan is a shining floaty star! The TV station put together a Best of compilation at the end of 2008. Susan was included. Unfortunately they didn't choose the floaty pen segment. Susan is also crazy about all things orange. You know... the color orange. Her love of orange made the Best of. Kudos to Susan.
The November pen lottery was a.... big success. Even the skeptics seemed to be happy with the outcome. Thirty one collectors participated. 199 different designs were posted and some of the pens were available in quantities of 1-3. It was a major undertaking, but what fun! This method of distribution insured everyone involved would get some wonderful designs. Most collectors had 7-12 pens on their wishlists, but a few people had their hearts set on ONE pen. Somehow it all worked out. The randomizer that Andy Balbus suggested worked like a dream. It was much easier than my proposed paper shuffle.
Remaining designs have been mixed into the Main List, which begins with the Advertise category. I can't say I am anxious to do another lottery any time soon. It was intense! The project could use some fine tuning and if I try it again, I would scale it down to something more manageable. Thank you all for your participation and support. To make so many collectors happy was a thrill for me too.
Pens Out and About...
November 3rd, Amy Dedman reported... “Las Vegas is pretty much the same as it was three years ago, with a few exceptions. The Aladdin Casino is now Planet Hollywood. This time there were no live flamingos at the gardens of either the Tropicana or the Flamingo Casino. The birds are probably better off. We had lots of fun, but outside of a variety of tip n strips, we found zero, none, NO floaties. Not even at The World's Largest Gift Store where previously they were flooded with photoramic craps and blackjack pens. Their inventory has dwindled to digital C-Top Tip n Strips and a few photoramic clicker-style male stripper pens. We encountered the same inventory at a few other souvenir stores. The ABC store in Planet Hollywood had 3-packs of photoramic male or female clicker style tip n Strips for $9.99! These were available other places for as little as $2.69 each, so the 3-pack was not a great deal.”
I should also mention the Secret Caverns pen from Cobleskill, NY that Amy recently traded with Craig Wilson. Craig emailed to ask if I was familiar with the pen. I am! The photo left is the pen in my personal collection. Amy and Craig provided a link to an article in RoadsideAmerica.com about the Secret Caverns. I asked Amy if it was OK to share this link with everyone. She gleefully agreed. “The description of the tour guide's interaction with the floaties is just hilarious! For sheer entertainment, read the article. But I better spit this out right now... despite the nice picture of a photoramic pen on their website, the pens are actually DIGITAL! Contact information is provided so you can order the pen directly from the Secret Caverns.” I must thank Amy and Craig for sharing. Craig tells me the Roadside America site is one of his faves. Amy bought her pens autumn of 2008. The pens are likely still available.
Also on Nov 3rd, Victoria B touched base... with discoveries from her travels. “I'm afraid my recent pen finds may not be very helpful to others, but I will pass them along anyway. My September trip took me to Oregon via Sacramento, and then to Yellowstone and Grand Teton in Wyoming via Salt Lake City. I was fortunate enough to get the last floaty at the Tudor Guild at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. It's a digital Twist and Click slanted revision of an older photoramic design. It features a violin, oboe, and French horn floating over music notes. The caption panel has a quotation from Shakespeare, ‘If music be the food of love, play on’. It's not specific to the Festival, and is probably available elsewhere.”
Victoria also found one floaty at the Sacramento airport. “It's a C-Top Twist and Click, with a riverboat floating in front of an old locomotive at the State Capital building. On the back Sacramento, Ca. I'm afraid I got the last one of those too, but it might well be available in Old Sacramento.”
“The General Store near Tower Falls at the northeast corner of Yellowstone had a much larger supply of pens than the other places. I promise I did not clean them out! They have two classic designs with similar cartoonish artwork, and both are captioned ‘Yellowstone National Park’ One has a river with bison on both shores, with one bison floating across. (We actually saw bison ford the river several times while we were there. It was quite impressive). The second pen features a Grizzly bear floating across a rocky scene and behind some trees, with tiny bees in the foreground. (We saw a live Grizzly do much the same thing, but without the bees...) Unfortunately, I think most of the Yellowstone Visitor's Centers and retail outlets are closed for the winter now, although some areas remain open to snowmobilers. I think the road that goes through the Tower-Roosevelt area is open all year. If you are passing through northern Wyoming you might get lucky there. The Salt Lake City airport still had some of the Ski Utah and Salt Lake City biplane classic pens when I passed through there. I had no luck at all finding pens in Gatlinburg, TN, or at Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week. It was nonetheless a lovely fall color trip, although I think we were about a week early for peak color.” Even if this information is unlikely to yield pens this season, spring 2009 is right around the corner.
Later in Nov, Victoria ventured to Phoenix and Tucson... with her mother. “It was hot in Phoenix and Tucson, but at least nothing was on fire. I found a few pens! The Phoenix Sky Harbor airport stores had three designs (all digitals)” Victoria found an AZ/Cactus Country, an AZ/Kokopelli (the one on my list) and a new AZ/Running in the Sun that features two roadrunners floating on the sun in the foreground. The first two designs are digital covers of traditional photoramic designs. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, near Tucson, has a vertical digital design with hummingbirds floating up from behind some flowers, in front of a saguaro cactus. It's a nice pen, and representative of the place itself, which is really more of a zoo and botanical garden than a museum. They have a lovely hummingbird aviary. The caption on the pen also lists the website, which is www.desertmuseum.org. They do not sell anything online, but there is an email address. They have a large stock of the pens.” Thanks Victoria. Now or later, your info will be of great benefit to hunters.
Just after Thanksgiving... the Broadstone's took a mini-vacation that included a trip to the Monterey Aquarium. If you know Beverly, you know she is crazy for penguins. While she found the penguin exhibit impressive, the gift shop was a big disappointment. No Eskesen floaty pens.
Beverly's son, Andy, suggested adding the John Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA to their trip. The family was so inspired by their visit they are all reading titles by the famous American author. Beverly was elated to find these four floaty pens in the Center's gift shop. She purchased multiples in all four designs to add to her long trade list. Contact Beverly directly to see what's available. FloatyPenguin@earthlink.net
December 27th, Katy Bennett popped in to say... “Just wanted to tell you about two classic floaty pens I found at Reagan National Airport in DC today. There is a small gift shop across from the B gates called America!. The shop is before the security gates, so anyone can walk in. Obama! would probably be a more apt name for the store. From the outside, Obama goods were all I could see.
I would love to have found an Obama floaty pen, but instead there was an updated digital White House floaty. It has a floating Presidential seal in front of the White House. Even better, there was a pretty pink Cherry Blossom design. It came in a pastel color or translucent hot pink. It's ever so pretty and nice to finally see some new pens in the DC area.” Katy, good job.
Have you discovered Regina Martini's... website while surfing the web? In January Regina contacted me to place an order and introduce herself. She is a German entrepreneur and collector. Her business is primarily selling high class fountain pens and supplying repair/spare parts. It was the summer of 2008 when Regina fell for float pens. Since then she has commissioned three custom floaty pens. Regina is selling them directly from her website. http://www.martiniauctions.com. A search for floaty pen will deliver you to the right page.
James Lamoureaux, in Colorado... has a cure for sleepless nights. “Insomnia set in so I started to search the web for floaties! I found GOOGLE floaties for sale. The source is in Europe. I thought the floaty community would appreciate a heads-up and maybe even work out some international trades?” Purchase this design directly from (Sorry, pen has sold out; Link removed June 2015.)
That was just the beginning. James found these gems at the Canadian Art Gallery of Ontario... (Pens sold out; Link removed June 2015.) At $5.90/pair... great deal. I can tell they are digital Eskesen twist n clicks. Unfortunately, the photo (copied from the site) is SO bad, I can't begin to describe the artwork. (2/23, Debbie Carriere tells me these are NOT Eskesen pens, therefore NOT such a good deal!)
And James continued with a link to the Submarine Force Library and Museum online store. They have an Eskesen classic style that features the Nautilus floating past the Museum. The pens sell for $3.85/each, plus
s/h. Order here: (Sorry, pen long gone; Link removed June 2015.)
Even MORE.... This pen features the Mayflower floating towards/away from Plymouth Rock. Price is $3.99/each and of course, s/h. According to the website, the pocket clip is stamped 'MADE IN DENMARK'. If that is still true, the pens are likely photoramics. Contact the Plimoth Plantation Museum directly: (Sorry, page is down; Link removed June 2015.) And thanks to James for all of his time and effort. He certainly made the best of his insomnia.
We have another budding star... among us. A local TV station asked to interview Miranda Wittebol at home, in her pen sanctuary. She would be featured in a program that highlights local residents of interest. Miranda would certainly be 'of interest'. They were bound to discover her eventually. Miranda has a room dedicated to her floaty collection. It is chocked full of file cabinets, displays and thousands of float pens. She was excited about the opportunity to share her obsession.
“It was great fun. Two female students were in charge of my interview and the filming. It only took about thirty minutes. Of course, after editing, it will only be two minutes of television. I requested a DVD of the show. The program will air in February. When it is posted, I will send a link.” I know Miranda will make us proud. Collectors should visit FloatAlong for floaty news updates.
Kristen Marino noted a float pen sighting... of the printed variety. “I believe it is on page 159 of The Complete Book of Retro Crafts: Collecting, Displaying & Making Crafts of the Past. Suzie Millions is the author. There is a handful of floaties (and other pens) in a frame displayed in a room full of other tchotchkes.&drquo; Nice catch Kristen.
Kristen went on to say “With the two kids, of course, I'm a member of the Disney Movie Rewards Club. It allows you to enter points from DVD purchases to save up and buy various items, like posters, t-shirts, figurines, etc. Anyway, one of the items available is a Fairies Floating Pens & Journal Set. It has 5 floaty pens featuring different fairies. I don't know if they're Eskesen or not. It's available for 1100 points (typically, each movie I buy provides 100 points).”
Thank you for the information Kristen. This picture is from Disney's website. I could not determine if the pens were Italian or Danish. I contacted Eskesen and they confirmed the pens were made by 'E' in 2008! That's terrific news. I asked Kim if he had any factory news to share. His response was short and sweet. “Eskesen is in the middle of our most busy exhibition period. By mid-March we will have participated in seven different trade fairs in six different countries.” That means staff is out beating the pavement and drumming up new business. New business means new pens and very happy collectors. Go Eskesen!
Way back on July 21st I received an odd inquiry... “I am researcher for the TV show, CSI:NY. I am interested in finding out what the contents are in a floaty pen - particularly the glycerin compound oil mixture (what is exactly the oil mixture?) Any information you have would be appreciated. And if you do not know, if you have contacts to anyone in the United States who might know, that would be great as well.” I sent her inquiry to Eskesen as well as a few distributors. In a follow-up email the researcher mentioned the neon colored fluid in the pens. At that point I had to assume she was referring to Chinese or Italian-made pens, but I still thought my contacts might be able to help. I thought that was the end of it, until November 1st when....
Beverly Broadstone forwarded a sighting... she received from her sister, Ruby. “I watched CSI: NY and the killer (the lighthouse museum gift shop worker) fashioned a gun from a floaty pen that was sold at the lighthouse gift shop. I didn't recognize the type of floaty pen. It resembled a twist & click, but the t&c part, not the barrel, was different.” Beverly was the first to contact me. A few more collectors followed with similar notices. Beverly is convinced there is a floaty pen fan on the writing staff of CSI. She asked, “Wasn't there an earlier episode on CSI that involved a floaty pen? Something to do with a cat, right?”
Yes! It was an episode of the original CSI series called Cat's Cradle. An Eskesen twist n click pen was used to murder an elderly woman. I often see it in my TV listings. The CSI: NY, that Ruby saw, aired on October 29th. The original title was The Cost of Living, but the website has it listed under The Death of a Young Archaeologist. I'm not sure how I missed it. I make it a point to watch CSI: NY to support Melina Kanakaredes. Melina's mother, Connie, did art shows with us for many years. We are all very proud of Melina's success. If you Google ‘CSI: NY’ it will lead you to the CBS website where you can watch full episodes on your computer... or wait and watch the listings for the re-run. I am curious to find out if the pen they used is an Eskie or not. I suspect it is an Italian or Chinese copycat. Thanks ladies!
Collectors have been busy... since issue #61 posted.
Norwegian collector, Eldor Gilje, helped his son build a new home. They have since moved inside and hope to finish by Easter.
The photo (right) came to me back shortly after Eldor and his wife visited Peru in October. This is a picture of the couple with local villagers at the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. They didn't find any float pens, but it was a grand adventure for sure!
Congratulations to California collector, Ron Lanyi... and his bride Lily. The newlyweds visited China over the holidays. Ron was one of he first collectors I met, some thirteen years ago. I am so happy for both of them. While Ron and Lily were in China, Nancy Knechtel was touring Europe. Her trip extended well into the new year, but she promised to check-in with floaty news.
Edmond Cotterchio directed me... to a new President Gerald Ford pen. Contact Museum Gift Shop here. The pens sell for $3.85 each, plus S/H. In the same email, Ed included a photo. I call it Ed lounging with the Yorkies. I count five. Lots of love.
December 22nd, Bill and I met... Pennsylvania collector, Marisa Barna at Eat 'n Park for dinner and pen chat. Marisa came armed with fabulous photos and hundreds of float pens. Before our meeting was over, we even exchanged a few pens. We got so caught-up in getting to know one another, three hours passed in what seemed like no time at all. Marisa proudly presented her favorite designs, many I had never seen before. Marisa is an enthusiastic pen scout. She scours the Internet, way beyond eBay, in search of unique designs. She is also an avid trader. Her skills have netted her an extraordinary floaty collection. It was a joy to finally meet Marisa face to face. She is a beautiful and smart young woman with an unbridled passion for floaty pens. I look forward to our next Pittsburgh pow-wow.
Earlier this month Marisa had this to share, “I have been having a recurring dream where I am in a store that has tons of unique and amazing floaty pens for sale! It is like floaty heaven! I have had this dream like three times in the last few months now. When I wake up I am so disappointed that the floaties were not real.” We were both wondering if other people have such dreams?
OH for the love... of floaty pens!
German collector, Biggy Kuhn, decided her over-flowing buckets and bins were no longer the proper way to store her fabulous floaty pens. Her massive collection, of 14,500 different Eskesen pens, would require something large, but also beautiful. Efficiency and function were equally important. Biggy thought long and hard to achieve the perfect design. At that point, she was confident her dream cabinet would soon move from dream to reality.
When Biggy explained to her carpenter that she needed a floor to ceiling cabinet with and supports to hold 288 removable trays, she was shocked by his resounding “NO!” Sadly, he did not share Biggy's vision or confidence. However, he highly underestimated Biggy's determination. She stood firm and after a long debate, work on the cabinet began.
If you communicate with Biggy you know her English is delightful. Her sense of humor always shines through. This is a not a direct quote, but rather my loose interpretation of Biggy's account. “The carpenter left a few minutes ago, knackered because never in his life has he worked so hard. He poured blood, sweat and tears into the project. I am very pleased with my Dream cabinet. I have started sorting, but I need a new system for archiving. I will figure it out.”
Each removable tray is divided into ten compartments. Each compartment holds ten classic or twist 'n click pens (fewer C-clips because they are larger). That means about one hundred floaty pens per tray.”
Biggy commissioned a second cabinet (pictured left) to house special Eskesen items like the sample case, cardboard displays/boxes, toothbrushes, lighters and so on. Items too bulky to fit in her dream cabinet.
“The glass-Vitrine display (right) is mounted on the wall. It is for my most prized treasures. My vintage Esso, The Beatles and other rare finds. The rings you see on the fourth shelf are all Balmshell keyrings.”
Can you imagine how long it will take Biggy to load her massive cabinet?! She has promised to send a picture. I don't expect a photo any time soon, but when it comes, it is going to be spectacular. The cabinet is awe inspiring. I wouldn't be surprised if others follow Biggy's lead. Well done Biggy!
Nils Alisch, from Germany, has a naughty... but nice, collection of Eskesen tip n strips. Nils is looking for designs he does not have, but he is actively seeking The Madonna tip n strip and the Chihuahua pen. If you have pens that would help Nils fill in his collection, let me know. I will hook you up.
Doug has included a blurb about his venture and the history of floaty pens on his website. Floaty Pen; and of course Le Monde du Serpent Floaty. “Having custom floaty pens made has been great fun. Perhaps another floaty pen will be in my future. For now, I'll just enjoy continuing to collect them, and have some satisfaction that there are collectors out there who have one of my pens that is, as of today, truly a collector's item.”
The photo (left) was taken at the WBUR radio station. Doug was interviewed for the nationally syndicated show Here and Now. Do you see his float pens on the table with the serpent? You can follow Doug's musical and floaty adventures at
Odd n Ends...
Occasionally I receive a request... for a floaty pen kit. There are snowdome kits available, but nothing to create a floaty pen. It's a great idea. Even if it were larger and just had a threaded cap, it would be fun. So how would you go about crafting a floaty pen?
Guidelines issued to PhRMA ... are now in effect. Bill read all about it in the New York Times, but it was Victoria B that brought it to my attention. “According to the latest PhRMA guidelines, pharmaceutical companies can no longer give even small items like pens to doctors. Therefore it is unlikely manufacturers will continue to produce them for the US market. This would presumably include the advertising pens that Eskesen has made for various drugs, as well as other manufacturers' pens that have floating faux tablets inside them.” I bet Victoria is right. Now would be a good time to approach the staff at your doctor's office about pens. Pharmaceutical pens may soon disappear.
Take care how you store... your float pens. If you have ever ordered float pens from Float About, you know I usually clip the pens to a piece of cardboard. This method allows me to organize the designs, but more importantly, it prevents the pens from getting bent or broken in transit. The cardboard is NOT intended as a permanent display or means of storage. Pens clipped to anything stiff will develop a bow. The longer the pen is clipped, the more severe the damage. If your pens arrive on cardboad, remove them within a few days of receipt.
Last Sunday I tested... every link on the related Websites page. Those that were no longer functional, have been removed. If you wish to make changes to your website or email listings on my website, please let me know. You can check them here: Websites and emails here Collectors United.
On the Homefront....
We started our winter clay class February 6th. I am still picking at the coffee mosaic I started in October. It's huge, five feet high by forty two inches wide. It started with the tiles I made in clay class last winter. It has come a long way since this photo was taken. All of the open areas have been filled in and it's been grouted. I haven't touched it since. Float About had to rise to the top of my priority list. I am anxious to get the sealer on and see it mounted. We have designated a space at the bottom of our basement steps.
Pens Past, Present and Future...
While I am not currently investing... in many new designs, I am happy to provide sources for you. There are many scouts that are willing to share their finds. James Lamoureux provided a great deal of information for this issue, including the Swimmers pen listed on the New Arrivals page. The pen is enroute to me and ETA is NOW. If it seems pricey at $6, it's only because I purchased them retail. The second design, Canon ImageRUNNER, was purchased from Finn Sørensen. It's a fine photoramic design.
Speaking of sources... I have a last minute addition. Debbie Hoesly was in Tennessee to visit her daughter. “Chattanooga is a very nice city, much smaller than I expected. The Chattanooga Choo Choo was the highlight of the trip, (except for Kristin of course). They turned the train station into a gorgeous hotel, the gardens are lovely and the train is awesome. OH YEAH!! They had a very nice supply of Chattanooga Choo Choo floaty pens. I'm so sorry, I didn't ask if they sell via mail order.” I am waiting for more information. Answers will be included in Float Along. If you want to inquire about the pens, this is the main number at the Choo Choo. 1/800-872-2529. Ask for the gift shop.
You are probably curious... about how I am going to handle the sale of duplicates this time? With ease, I hope. Duplicates remaining from the last issue have been mixed into the Main List. As for the new duplicates, it is my goal to see that everyone gets a chance to get some.
This is not going to be another lottery, but I have adopted some of the same ideas. Now that the pens have posted, everyone has until noon (EST) on Saturday, February 14th to get their orders in. I will confirm receipt of your order. Ask for as many pens as you like. I will honor limits you might impose, like 10 pens only or not to exceed $25. It doesn't matter if you are the first or last to get your order in. At noon I am going to shuffle the stack. If you highlight or number your Top 5 choices I will do my best to deliver something special. Most of the duplicates are singles so they will go very quickly. It will take me several hours to process. When the dust has settled the Duplicates will be open to anyone, everyone on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are NOT ordering pens from the Duplicates list, your order will be processed ASAP upon receipt.
If you submitted a lead... or had something to share in this issue, and it isn't here... I apologize. It's been far too long since the last issue posted and things get lost in the meantime. If I forgot something, please let me know. I can always add it to Float Along.
And with that... I am going to wrap this up and wish you and yours a Happy Valentine's Day!
FLOAT ABOUT... Diana Andra, 1676 Millsboro Road, Mansfield, OH 44906-3374
phone 419/529-8876 (11 am - midnight EST)
Copyright © February 2009 FloatAbout.com