Monday, January 05, 2009

Researching the NS-Marked Floats

The following information was sent to me by another passionate glass float collector-one who I will be doing a profile on in the near future. His name is Bob Buffington. Many thanks to Stu Farnsworth for being such a friend-he put the two of us together.

In one of our first email conversations Bob wrote this:

"Meanwhile, you have an overlapping SN on the pages you sent me. My hunting buddy went to Newfoundland two years ago, and when he asked about the origins of the SN he had picked up there, he was told that it was made by a fishing company there whose initials fit the SN lettering. He is out of town now, but I will ask him when he gets back next week, and send the name off to you. He saw several of these floats while visiting there, and was told the same thing everytime he asked the question about the manufacturer."

Now, that was some interesting stuff to come out of the blue! I've tried researching those floats more than a few times, but have never found one scrap of historical evidence about the mark or a maker. Following Stu Farnsworth and Alan Rammer's lead, I have scoured the history of Scottish glass houses, and have come up empty.

Bob's reference to Newfoundland sparked a thought in my head-could the letters, "NS,' stand for Nova Scotia?

The other day, Bob sent the following, and asked me to post his findings to the blog.

Tom, I thought you would get a kick out of the results of my efforts to date regarding the NS floats. Here are some of the individuals I have contacted about the NS.
I still believe there is a Nova Scotia connection of some sort.

Dear Robert,I did receive your first e-mail but have not had an opportunity to reply. I do not have a great deal of information on glass fishing floats to share. I know they were used mainly by inshore fishermen for herring and mackerel net floats. Most of the ones in this area were made in England. I have never heard of any glass floats used by National Sea Products. The National Sea Products firm began in 1945 and was an offshore fishing company. They towed huge nets that used aluminum floats. I can't imagine glass floats standing the buffeting they would receive onboard a trawler.I found a website by googling glass fishing floats and they have quite a bit of information on glass companies that specialized in fishing floats. the site is They also have an e-book which I attempted to download without success. Regards,RalphRalph D. GetsonCurator of EducationFisheries Museum of the AtlanticPO Box 1363Lunenburg, NSBOJ 2COTel.:902-634-4794FAX:902-634-8990e-mail:

Hi,I am not sure I will be of much help to you. Like you, I have several green and clear coloured floats from 'early' days of fishing. However, you might discover more information by contacting the following person:Ralph D. GetsonCurator of EducationFisheries Museum of the AtlanticPO Box 1363Lunenburg, NSBOJ 2COTel.:902-634-4794FAX:902-634-8990e-mail: getsonrd@gov.ns.caI hope this is of help to you,Peggy Falkenham-BoutilierHigh Liner Foods Inc. 12/10/2008 09:05 cc Subject Research petaining to National Sea Fishing Floats

Mr Buffington,After I sent my e-mail (repeated below), I wondered whether you have contacted the present company. Try this: High Liner Foods Inc100 Battery Point, P.O. Box 910Lunenburg, Nova ScotiaB0J 2C0 CanadaTel : 1-902-634-8811Fax : Scott RobsonCurator, History CollectionNova Scotia Museum

Scott Robson 08-Dec-2008 11:32 AM >>>Mr Buffington,Your message was forward to me for consideration. However, I do not know the answer. You wrote: "I am attempting to establish the possible dates of manufacture, what company made them, and where the company was based." Those aspects may have shifted during the company's history, with different suppliers, etc. Have you tried to contact older staff who might know? When you next visit Nova Scotia, you could enquire in the Lunenburg area about former workers who might know such details. I doubt that you will find much record outside of company files. You may be interested in this book about the company:KIMBER, Stephen"Net Profits: The Story of National Sea"Halifax: Nimbus Publishing Ltd., 1989ISBN 0921054084 "The story of National Sea Products Ltd. is the story of how one company evolved from a fishermen's grocery store in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, to one of the world's largest fishing enterprises." - from the dj. Scott RobsonCurator, History CollectionNova Scotia Museum

Tom, As you can see - I have failed miserably so far. But will continue to pursue the research.


This is so typical of trying to research glass companies, and business leads in an effort to establish historical proof of the origins of glass fishing floats. It is a somewhat frustrating, but always an exciting effort, even when one comes up empty. Once in a while there is a breakthrough, and as time goes by, those breakthroughs will appear on this blog. I only wish that I could do nothing but write, but day-to-day responsibilities help keep this fever in me manageable.

Early in the morning before I have to get started, or for a few minutes during lunch, there is a chance to go "float hunting." At the end of the day, I cannot wait until there is an hour or more of unobstructed time on the computer, or time to read a historical commercial fishing book, or to open a display case to hold and admire a particular float for a moment or two. When the light is right, there is nothing like trying to take a perfect photograph of a float's beauty or it's mark, then download it onto a photo site to see what I've got. Ah! This passionate excitement that fills my days and nights is wonderful!

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