How it began
In 1992 we purchased our first pen from a souvenir stall in Venice. The scene was of a gondola floating up and down the Grand Canal. Little did we know at the time what it would lead to!
Eight years later we went on a tethered balloon ride in Bournemouth. The floaty pen on sale at a nearby kiosk showed a perfect miniature of the balloon floating up and down over Bournemouth, and made an excellent souvenir.
Eventually, most of our souvenirs end up languishing in the back of an old cupboard. It was here that both pens were found side-by-side for the first time ever. At this point, any normal person would have put them back in the cupboard and got on with their lives. However, an unknown force, or a bizarre twist of fate led us to compare these two pens, admiring their similarities, yet at the same time, their ability to take us back to the unique place of their purchase. A collection was born.
The summer of 2001 was spent travelling around Europe in a campervan and provided lots of opportunities to acquire pens. When we returned to London we purchased every available London floaty pen, and managed to double our collection. A trip to Canada in February 2002 enabled us to double our collection once again. This was starting to get serious!
People Like Us
Have you ever felt that you were different in any way? The world can be a cruel place, and it is very comforting to find other people who see things in the same way that you do.
For several months we had enjoyed expanding our collection, but had yet to meet another collector. Friends and family agreed they were quite nice, but suggested we found a more constructive hobby. Even shopkeepers were puzzled when we purchased ten pens in the same transaction. We believed our collection was truly unique.
One night I was surfing the Internet and thought I would try and find out more about my favourite pens. I was not optimistic as I did not even know what to call them, or what to search under. I suppose it was luck that made me put in the most descriptive term I could think of “floaty pens.” I could not believe it when the search results came up – hundreds of floaty pen collectors across the globe. At last we had found ‘People like us!’
Russell was initially very strict about the pens that we included in our collection. They must be true Eskesen pens, they must be only from places that we have visited, and they must be in mint condition.
On the otherhand, I believed that every pen tells a story, whether it is a reminder of a place we have visited, a gift from a loved-one, or someone else’s unwanted junk.
We have now reached a compromise. We still focus on the Eskesen pen. However, all styles, and fakes, are included in our collection. Careful catalogueing and storage is now used to prevent pens of different types floating in with each other. We travel as much as possible to expand our collection, as well as trawelling flea markets and antique shops wherever we may be in the world. We have a network of amazing collector friends who we meet and swap with whenever possible. We are also lucky enough to have some amazing family and friends – not only do they put up with our endless talk about floaties – but they look out for pens for us too whenever they are travelling.
Floaty pen collectors are not ‘floaters’ in anyway. They are focussed, single-minded, and brutally determined. Constantly on the lookout for new pens, prepared to travel half way around the world for the sheer pleasure of getting their hands on a new floaty. They think they have it under control – they can give up any time they want. However, once a floaty pen collector always an addict. There is no cure. They are destined to a life of rummaging in flea markets, car boot sales and tourist shops the world over.
This is where the dealers come in – feeding their habit, with brightly coloured floaties, promising a taste of the ecstasy that can only be enjoyed when running your fingers over the barrel of a floaty for the first time. All is not however what it seems. These pens are highly addictive. Even worse than this is the effect floaty pen collectors have on their innocent naive friends. At first they are willing helpers, as scouts, on the lookout for floaties. Then, little by little, they themselves get dragged into the tangled web of life dominated by floaties. Before long, they are fully fledged addicts, guarding their own stashes of the little coloured objects of affections.
In the beginning it was all about the pleasure. Then, as surely as one bubble will become two, they take over the lives of those kind enough to reunite them after their long journey from Denmark. A collection is never complete – a 50 collector looks to the 100 collector with envy and admiration, the 100 collector looks to the 1000 collector with jealousy and respect. The spouse of the 6000 collector wishes they had the collection of 50. There are no winners.
Luckily, the world of floaty pen collecting is filled with people who take their collection seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously. We love floaty pens. We love the 100% Eskesen originals. We are always disappointed with fakes. We have an insatiable appetite for floaty knowledge. Every collector needs someone to look up to and to learn from. These are a few of mine:
Jean-Yves Arnoult is our first Real floaty friend. He and his family made us very welcome at their house in France. We made some excellent trades. I was humbled by his amazing collection of over 3,000 pens.
Stephen Kenneth runs The Floaty Pen Zone. My first floaty contact, and some great scanning and hosting tips.
Diana Andra is an amazing lady. She is a fountain of knowledge on all things floaty, she writes a regular floaty newsletter, and has some amazing trades. Her web site Floatabout.com is a must for all collectors.
Finn Sorenson taught us that we have a long way to go to reach the obsessive compulsive stage of collecting! We love you Finn!
Eskesen, the home of all genuine floaty pens. Without them none of this would be possible.
And finally,a note about Graham Jacobs – Graham was an amazing collector who died tragically, suddenly, and at far too young an age, in 2008. We learned a lot about collecting from Graham, and his bravery at jumping off trains in remote places in search of the elusive pens has been a great inspiration!
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