Thursday, January 29, 2009
A Few years ago I had an opportunity to contact a man from Norway who was interested in glass fishing floats and the history of the makers and users of the floats.
An initial email was sent not only to introduce myself as a collector of European glass fishing floats, but also to encourage him to hunt for specific floats and the history of their use in his country. It was also mentioned that his country was where the earliest floats came from, and that I thought there were many possibilities for finding floats and historical facts about the earliest makers of floats. I hoped that he would take me up on the challenge to get more involved.
Per wrote me a very nice return email, and said that he would see what he could find. Well, if you happen to know Per, then you know that once he has his head in a direction, the best thing to do is to sit back and appreciate his incredible flow of energy in action.
During the next few years, he advertised, he wrote letters and emails, he telephoned and he made numerous expeditions in Norway and neighboring Sweden to find floats. Whenever he and his lovely wife Tone, were on vacation, they spent time antiquing, and Per found some wonderful floats in countries outside of his homeland.
Together, we shared hundreds of emails. Man! We had a lot of fun during those years, and became friends. I will never forget the excitement whenever I opened one of those emails. I've kept all of them in a file. Some of the emails that stand out, were sent while Per was on expedition, or on vacation with Tone. While on vacation, he would tell me where they had been, the foods, wines and beers they had tasted, and their adventures and finds.
When Per was solo on float-finding expeditions, along with the day's stories, he would always include photos of wonderous Norwegian scenery, the inside of fishermen's boat houses, old fishermen, their gear and special floats that had been found that day. I wanted to be there on expedition with him so badly, but responsibilities and timing would not allow that. So, I lived vicariously and excitedly with Per during those times. Then Per changed direction.
He needed a rest from the intense years of searching, researching, writing and answering emails. His love for photography took him in another direction, and suddenly, our worlds changed a bit.
Of course, we continued to keep in touch. Once in a while, I would write an email with some float memories thrown in for old time's sake. There was always the hope in me, that one day Per would send me an email with new floats that he had found, that he would get back into the game in even a small way.
In December, Per wrote to say that he was thinking of making an expedition again. He had an idea for a book, and we began collaborating on ideas for his book. Suddenly, Per wanted to get back on the road to look for floats, only this time he had a new direction to compliment the hunt for glass balls. He also spoke of his desire to research the old fishing days again, and to search out the companies that supplied the fishermen with gear back in the old days.
Last summer, I found the names of two Norwegian companies that were suppliers of gear to that country's fishermen in the 1870's, and asked him to research them if he had time.
Fagerheims mek.Not&Garfabrik-Bergen: who were manufacturers of seines and nets, and who sold cod gill net of hemp with glass floats, not tanned, 30 meters long and 40 meshes deep.
Fineide L. Johannesne Hemnaes, Fishes at the Lofoten and In Marken Fisheries who made Cod Gill Nets with newly invented glass floats, and with pieces of chain for sinkers.
Per reasoned that companies similar to Christiania Magasin (formerly Kristiania Magasin), must have existed, and maybe, they had their own float cachets as did Christiania (CM). On Monday of this week, I received this email from Per:
I think I have solved the mystery about the Rare Norwegian HD float. I found 6 floats in Vesteraalen and Troms last year, remember?
This huge shipping company (Hindø
Dampskibsselskab "with seat in Sigerfjord in Vesterålen."
The shipping company owned at the end of the 1800s and a
couple decades into the 1900s, several steam-powered boats
driving bank fishing and herring fishing. The company
was a pioneer in the development of boats and gear technology)
Hindø Dampskibsselskab = HD floats look at pictures:
My good friend is back into the float game. A new expedition is planned, and there is a flow of excitement coursing through me. I wonder what the future will bring?
Have fun Bud, and best of good fortune in all of your endeavors. You know that I will be there with you in spirit, and looking forward to your emails.
Post Script: I looked at my HD this morning, and have a question...The color and texture of the glass beg me to wonder if the float was made at the Flesland Glasverks? While two criteria are there, the normal bold Flesland cachet is not. Instead, the letters HD are small, thin-scripted, and one has to look closely to discern the beautiful delicacy of the mark.