Monday, July 27, 2009

A Shared Story

I frequently check my emails, and a couple of Ebay float sites everyday. This winter, while checking to see if any new emails had arrived, found this one from Todd, the Norsknailpounder:

Hi Tom !
I love going to antique shops. You never know what you will find, and this time was no exception.
I had not been to this particular shop for a couple months, because nothing new had been there the last few times I’d gone to it.
This time, I saw an isle that had been restocked with the seller’s new items from an estate sale.
Instantly, I was head deep in an old wood manufactured ice box in great shape, and as I pulled my head out of it, I was face to face with a NWGC dark brown donut float for sale... for ten bucks.
The owner wasn't there. I'll get the story on it later.

I'll send some pictures as soon as I can hold the camera still enough !

:) :) :) Todd :) :) :)

I couldn’t believe it!

Quickly, answered Todd back, congratulating him, and wrote about how ironic it was that three doughnut hole floats had been found in the Seattle, Wa. area during the last year. Two were found at a garage sale (a clear and an amber) which sold for a bunch of bucks on Ebay auctions. Now, Todd had found one in an antique store, that was also in the Seattle area.

My thoughts were that it was possible that others might be found in the coming years as workers from the glass factory passed on, and their floats were sold by family members. I have read a number of times that only a dozen or so were ever made, and wonder if that is true? Could it be possible that more than that were produced? Some that have been found, seem to have actually been used by fishermen. Maybe two dozen or fifty or a hundred were made? Sure do wish that someone would come forward with the records of glass float production by Northwestern Glass Co.!

I remember telling my wife about Todd’s find, and how incredulous I was. Later, trying to accomplish something in the kitchen, with a mind full of doughnut hole floats, Todd’s amazing luck, and trying to not feel jealous-but happy for Todd, I realized that all of us collectors have some wonderful stories to tell about floats that we have found in one way or another.

As time passes: one comes upon a Hokuyo fisherman’s pile of floats, and there is a cache of, or one incredible rolling pin; a beachcomber on one of the world’s Pacific Ocean beaches, finds a deep purple, or some other great prize; someone on a Gulf of Mexico or Carribean beach finds a beautiful Portugese float; while ‘combing through Ebay auctions, you find one that no one else realizes is there, or win a terrific auction while the competition is away on vacation or asleep; maybe you attend an auction, or get a surprise email, or find something great at a garage, estate or antique sale...we all have our stories. Pass them on!

An hour passed, and I went back to the computer to check my emails for a return from Todd. Sure enough, Todd had quickly written back. We were in sync! And he had sent a photo of his float. No problem with an out-of-focus photo either. Todd’s hands had stopped shaking.

Hi Tom,
The picture really doesn't show it, but the glass is a bit wavy and the float shows very little wear. A small 1/16" rainbowed flake-still attached at the top
of the seal, and a few scratches on the side, are the only marks. On the bottom, very faintly marked in three rows are:

PAT no

I think :)

Also there is a small amount of wood and paint on the bottom, Wet paint on a window sill no doubt. Sounds like something I would do in a hurry, to get things done!
I can't believe the luck!
Take care,

While Per Einar was on his expedition, Todd and I corresponded on numerous occasions. I am always looking for, and thinking about interesting topics concerning glass floats, and thought to ask Todd if he would give me the story of his surprising, and unbelievable find. Todd wasted little time getting back to me with the whole story of that great day.

Hi Tom,
You asked me to tell my tale of my find at the Old Central Antique Mall in Port Orchard. Here is my memory of it :)

It had been almost a month since my last visit to the antique stores of Port Orchard, and things there seemed not to change much.
This was probably because I spent a little more time there than I should have. I love to go to antique stores, and easily, find any reason to venture out.
On a Saturday morning, after checking my Email and going through my searches for new floats on Ebay, I told my wife (asked her nicely) that I was going for a ride to some of my favorite places.
She concurred and away I went, thinking that maybe I might find a beer bottle float mixed in with the old beer bottles on shelves. Maybe a cool looking Herring net I could use for a display. Maybe a cool netted Duraglass or hmmmmmm.

As I opened the antique shop’s door, the bell rang out, and the familiar scent of days gone by and maybe something gone bad, greeted my nose. What is that smell anyway ? Does anyone really know?
I was soon in my old groove and thinking .... I've seen all this stuff before. Rats! This is a little disappointing. I should have gone to Poulsbo, at least they have a great bakery there.
I turned the corner, looked down the hall and suddenly my eyes opened widely ! No way! The thought entered my mind that I have never seen one of these before. Ahead of me, on the ground, was a very old and very uniquely-manufactured ice cooler, with its very cool and very old tin liner that was in unusually great condition. I think it was made of teak wood, however, I might have been wrong. Anyway, the whole thing was so cool, and I thought, "beer must taste the best when grabbing for one from its icy depths "
By now I'm armpit deep in this ol’wooden box, and having a great time looking closely at its details and great workmanship.
I began getting a bit of an uneasy feeling, and knew that I must pull myself out or I'd risk getting sick. I don't do well upside down, or on my back, looking up. Most of the time anyway!
With a big deep breath and a sigh of relief, I focused on what was in front of me, and regained my composure. But only for a second and a short second at that! This can't be true, a NW Doughnut float !!
I began thinking that the two people coming my way, would reach past me, and grab the treasure I’d suddenly discovered.
Things seem to get REAL SLOW here, and I remember thinking "I have to pick this up without breaking it, make my way to the counter, pay for it and for cripes sakes get the receipt. Dummy!
Now, two or three things are entering my mind, and one of them is that this is not happening and it's not for sale. It's really for sale but for thousands, not $9.99 .
I look at it again before setting it down, and .....yes, this is happening and ...yes, it's for sale and ... yes for $9.99.
Now, I've just given the cashier my Visa, and thought: "just my luck, the lady will say,declined or something ".
And just like that...on cue...she says, "that's not right".
#*%!! I knew this was too good to be true.
"Its marked down" she says, "15% to $9.19 . My heart’s thumping now, and I hold the float as she asks "do you want it wrapped?" “No thanks.” I replied, and holding the receipt I ask, "is the seller here?"
"No" she says, "he'll be back in a couple of weeks" . We talk a little bit, and she tells me that this float was on the shelf for a week, and that she thought that the seller probably doesn't have more and "what is it anyway?" she asks .
I told her that it was called a doughnut hole float, and that it was manufactured in Seattle during the 1940's by Northwestern Glass Co.

I drove home very carefully and opened up, BEACHCOMBING FOR JAPANESE GLASS FLOATS by Amos L. Wood, to look for my float. Two days later, I came out of my cloud.

I"ll always remember the first time I caught a sea run Cutthroat Trout, meeting my wife, our firstborn kid and finding my NW Doughnut float.
Todd :)

All collectors have experienced, and I would imagine that all ardent collectors feel, a daily excitement permeating their lives. Each day for me is wonderful because of excitement. I live with the reality of my strong passions. Continually, my spirit swims in the happiness and good fortune found one spring day on the Neah Bay Indian Reservation, when I was first introduced to glass fishing floats. I wish all of you excitement.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Beauty From Todd, the Norsknailpounder

Woke up. Started the day by talking lovingly with Nancy about tonight's arrival of our daughter Chloe, 4-yr. old grandson Thomas and 8-mo. old grandaughter Nora. Sadly, Chad is teaching Glassblowing at Corning right now, and will not be able to join us. We're excited to have them come stay with us for three weeks.

Can't wait to mess around with my Buddy, and get to know our new little one. She was born here last November, and we've talked and laughed with her using the Skype program, a web cam, speakers and microphone. Skype is an amazing and free computer program that allows you to see the person you are talking to in real time, by using the above tools and your computer. Calls are made on the computer, and the rest starts from opening up the call. You can phone someone on line, anywhere in the world with computer access and Skype on their computer, at anytime, for free. What a wonderful gift to the people of the world.

The guest room is my computer and float room, and it's a bit lonely in here at the moment-had to pack up all of my loose floats, and the shelf of colored floats for safe-keeping. It's a small price to pay for having so much joy ahead of us.

Got out of bed, turned the computer on, threw on some clothes, grabbed my yogurt and a glass of ice water, and went to my email first. Am I twittering?

Found two great emails: one from Bob commenting on last night's post, and filled with more questions. You can't get through one of Bob's emails without being bombarded with ideas and questions from him. His mind is so fertile! and I truly look forward to hearing from him.

The second email was from another great Euro collector and friend Todd, the Norsknailpounder:

Good morning Tom.

Here is a shot just taken of a float from Per, very cool-a bit out of round and streaks of green moss colors at each end of the float :)

The photos of Todd's really beautiful Norwegian float with it's rare mark and the green swirling in the seal button are above. Why the green swirls and threads in the seal?

Perhaps when the gather of glass came out of the furnace, it was just chance that the apprentice grabbed a gather with some extra iron oxide deposits which had not been throughly mixed? It's a great float with personality, and a story. Thank you for sharing your float with us Todd, and for following the blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Submission From Euro Collector Bob

Today, I received this email, and want to share it with you.

Hello Tom,

Based on your coinage of the term "floatos", I guess that makes you a "floatographer". Great blog by the way, really enjoyed your story and the great floatos. Meanwhile I am taking you up on your invitation to post some floatos on your blog as a way of sharing and in an attempt to possibly get some additional information and input about a couple of floats in my collection.

The BY5 anchor(clear glass) pic I am sending, demonstrates a clean and clear mark for this symbol. I have been looking everywhere and have not seen another clear with such a completely detailed strike. Further, I have never seen a colored BY5. The marks that I have seen on any green or similar colored float lack the "5" and all have very weak lines that form the anchor. Does anyone have a photo of a complete mark on a colored BY5 float clearly showing all the anchor lines and including the 5or are all the colored floats simply sans the "5"?

The second floato I am sending is of a swirled Euro that so far is unique in my experience. I have not seen another with such clearly defined bands of color. It also appears to have a mark on the seal button that resembles an anchor (crude) or perhaps just an unusual "straw" mark. I would be interested if any collector has seen or has knowledge of a Euro swirled float. I have several green with brown swirls, and aqua with brown swirls, but no other Euros of color with swirls.

Keep up the great work with the "Blog"

Thanks for the great email Bob. It's a pleasure to show the pics of your wonderful floats to the readers and collectors. I hope your post will inspire others to submit too.

For me, sharing the excitement does wonders for my spirit. All of us collectors are resurrecting a once-defunct history. Don't you think that we are also "re-inventing" it? The fact that there are a number of us researching and recording what we learn, has taken float collecting to another level. Imagination is leading to reality.

People all over the world have been going to Japan, Norway, Sweden, Britain, the Pacific amd Atlantic Islands, etc., looking for floats. On weekends and other free time, Americans are searching the antique shoppes for floats, and the Canadians along the Atlantic Coast are definitely into the hunt too. More wonderful and unknown markings will continue to appear, and with that appearance, hunting for the meaning of the marks or their makers will also occur. This is an exciting time for all of us to be involved.

I will do my best to answer your BY Anchor question with the limited knowledge that I have, and want to start out by saying...Absolutely!
Bob, your photo shows a wonderfully clear mark. In comparison to the mark on my clear BY Anchor, your's is so very sharp and clean. It's the most distinct mark on one of these floats that I've ever seen. One thing that suddenly occured to me as I look at BY Anchor photos in my files was the thickness of the "arms" on my anchor float, in comparison with the "arms" on the green BY's, which are single lines. Your's, while more defined, also seems to me to be thicker. Is that true?

Perhaps the BY5 Anchor name needs to be changed to just BY Anchor? I ask this question because after receiving my clear float with the mark, and looking closely at it, I've never been convinced that the "5" is actually a 5. It appears to me to be a type of tool-perhaps a clamp?

While researching a lexicon of maker's markings, I found a wonderful drawing of the exact BY Anchor with the letters A on the left of the anchor, G on the right, and underneath a B. The mark was exactly like the the BY Anchor float except for the different letters. The mark was for Glasfabrikation, Vorm. Gebruder Hoffman. The mark was listed as: Luft and Seefahrt/Aeronautics & Seafaring. It is a German mark.

Is the BY Anchor a German-made float?

As you can see from the photos above, the complete mark that is on Bob's float is also on the green float as well. So to answer your question: yes, the green floats also exhibit the complete mark.

Gees! Your yellow/amber float with it's incredible swirls is like no other Euro that I've ever seen. It's absolutely beautiful, and thank you so much for sharing it with us. Swirls in the color of Euros, I have seen, but the swirls have not been readily apparent, and have only been seen when holding the float with backlighting. Your yellow/amber glass with distinct brown/amber swirls is truly an amazing and beautiful float. I hope that someone else may comment on both of your floats, and your questions. Thank you again for your submission to the blog.

The floato of the Anchor mark which appear next to Bob's email, and the two yellow/amber swirl pics are Bob's, and above those are:
The Colorless float, is my BY Anchor;
The Green BY Anchor on the right is from Ken Busse and
The Green BY Anchor on the left came from an British Ebay auction. The float now resides in Gregsboat1's collection.
Bob's floatos, the colorless BY Anchor and the auction pic can be enlarged by left-clicking on them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Floats in the Collection 1/1/09 to 7/14/09

I should have known better!

The writing for this blog was started in earnest 8 months ago. It was winter, and the slow-business-time of the year for me. I was able to post to the blog on a regular basis. There was a lull in the spring when the growing and plant sales were feverish, then the writing started again, only to come to a screeching halt over the last few weeks.

My summer sales took off, and due to the economy, I've been doing all of the work myself. It's kept me busy from early in the morning until almost dark. My wife Nancy has been terrific. She's cooked almost all of the dinners (we enjoy sharing the cooking), and helping me when the going got rough.

Lately, my free time has been spent on the phone. There have been a number of absolutely great phone calls from collectors, and many stories of collecting glass floats, great floats and the people involved from the 1960's through the '80's.
There have also been some great historical fishing finds on Ebay, as well as some wonderful floats coming my way.

This post is dedicated to the readers who have emailed to ask me to, "write more!" It's always been frustrating to me to find a glass float blog or website that is exciting to read and to look at great floatos (float photos which may be a new word Nancy and I coined last Sunday at dinner), only to have the writing, etc. stop dead. Trust me kind readers, I don't have any plans to stop writing, or requesting other collectors to contribute to this blog. I promise.

Attached are floatos of some great glass balls that have joined the collection this year. I've really enjoyed looking at the float contributions on Vebjorn's and Roger and Marie's float sites, and I wondered if any of the readers would like to send me pics of floats that have joined their collection so far this year? It would be fun to share our happiness with one another. Just email me your floatos, with whatever description you would like to see on the blog, and I'll post them.

The first float(s) to join the collection this year came from a very kind woman who lives in Northern California. After reading a glass float article written forThe Glass Museum, she contacted me to ask for help with floats that she had found at a local antique shop, in the "badlands," of Redding, California. Of all places!

She had found a nice selection of American-made floats which included Northwestern Glass and Cincotta Bros. floats. We later had a very nice telephone conversation, and she concluded our exchange by offering me a truly wonderful and unique 3-float marker buoy made up of three netted Cincotta Bros. floats. This trio is the first buoy of glass floats marked Cincotta Bros that I've seen.

On another day, I received a wonderful email from a good friend. He had found a great European float-an amber JS-in a box that he didn't remember having. Knowing my passion for all floats Euro, he asked me if I would be interested in purchasing the float. Are you kidding! Not only is the collection graced with a float from one of the greatest float collectors and friends in the world, but it is an absolutely wonderful float. There's nothing like getting a great marked float in an uncommon color of glass. The float is heavy from the thickness of the glass. When looked at with backlighting, there are literally waves and undulations of texture reflecting a golden and orange amber light. Thanks Pal!

As reported in an earlier post, my trading buddy Bruce, traded me a beautiful Red Torvald Stranne, and after Per's Expedition we did another trade that reunited my trio of small highly-colored Contemporary Hokuyo Double F's.

During our first attempt at trading, I told Bruce of my trio of Contemporary Hokuyos. Bruce wanted to trade me for one or all of them, but I could not let them go. They had a meaningful story behind them that included Nancy, but Bruce kept trying. After one trading conversation, he offered to send me a couple of Euros to look at. When they arrived, I first unwrapped an amber marked Euro, that just didn't do it for me. Then I unwrapped the second float, and there in my hands was an incredible Orange Anchor-marked two piece float. That float needs a post of it's own, just to show the readers what a unique and wonderful float it is.

The glass was blown into a 2-piece mold, and I think that more glass than necessary was put into the mold before blowing the ball up. During the process, it appears as if glass was forced out of the mold between the flanges. The seams of the float extend away from the body up to 3/16ths. of an inch, and are flat. It's an amazing effect that I've never seen before. The anchor is also a mark that I've never seen, although it looks somewhat like the anchor on the Korean 3-piece mold float in the collection. Inquiring of other collectors if they had ever seen another float like it, one wrote back to tell me that it had originally been his. He had gotten it from Germany. It's an amazing float!

As I held the float in my hands, then excitedly passed it onto Nancy to look at, trading one of the trio entered my mind. How could I not trade for a float like that one! I had been lucky, and had both a beautiful and larger blue Contemporary Hokuyo as well as the smaller blue member of the trio. I told Nancy that I just could not let that float pass without attempting to trade only one of the trio. She gave me a look that said, "I understand." So, the small blue was boxed up, and sent Priority Mail to Bruce. He called a few days later with the news that he would do the trade. Sure! I had to give up a beauty, but I got a beauty in return-a real beaut!

From my good friend Per came the rare and beautiful Flat Ended Alesund float, a beautiful Portugese? Star with a net that still smells of the ocean and fish, a CME with it's original net and a remarkable Orange Norwegian float who's glass may tell another story.

When you look at the glass there is just no mistaking the fact that it is recycled glass. A story that Per shared with me a few years ago came to mind. During WWII, a German ship anchored in the Bergen harbor, blew up. The explosion shattered all of the town's windows. Per told me that the broken glass was picked up in wheelbarrows, and brought to Flesland Glass where it was recycled into floats. This float's glass is orange, but it is not transparent except in a few small spots. It is opaque and filled with swirls and mixes of glass that give it a burnt orange color. There are even areas of what appears to be blackened or charred glass. When I received it, I wrote Per about the thought that perhaps this float was one of those produced from the town's exploded glass. Per wrote back with the following:

I don't know if that orange float is from the explosion from the vessel Voorboode at Bergen Harbor, but you never know. It's a huge possibility that it is! And if you read below, your guess for broken glass from church's etc. was a perfect guess and tip! Two churches were badly damaged and the rest did get all windows blown out!
More information from the explosion:
Explosion accident occurred in Bergen 20.4.1944 in the morning, when the Dutch steam trawlers Voorbode, loaded with over 100 tonnes of German explosives, went in the air. In violation of the rules for transport of explosives, Voorboode was moored at Festningskaien Bergen inner harbor. The explosion led therefore to the large human and material losses. 102 Norwegians lost their lives. The official German loss figure was 56, but the losses were probably greater. Around 5000 people were wounded. 4500 buildings were inflicted damage, including 248 total damage. Historical buildings HÃ¥konshallen, Tower, St. Mary's Church, Nykirken (newchurch directly translated into US) and Tollboden (old custom/tax government building) was badly damaged, some of them so much that the Germans over-weighted to remove them completely. The total damage amount ran up the 63 million 1940-NOK. Disaster coincided with the celebration of Hitler's 55 year anniversary. German claims of sabotage was made, but rejected by fire experts. The accident was due to self-ignition in the ship's coal bunker.
I hope this was interesting reading Tom

Yes! I did find it interesting, and I think the readers do too. Thanks Per.

After Per's trip, Bruce and I did another trade. I have had the good fortune to be in a position to help my friend out a few times with floats, and once helped him obtain one of the rarest colored floats: a large deep purple-not violet-a deep purple Japanese ball with lots of nice wear on it. The float was beachcombed from an isolated Pacific Island in the 1950's. Bruce wanted to return my favors, and being a good friend as well as a man of principals, offered me not only two beautiful Asian Shark Rollers with different noses, but also wanted to send me back my blue Contemporary Hokuyo since he had obtained another in a trade. I could not pass up the offer or his kindness. The wonderful trio is reunited.

From an Australian seller who during a one-month period, put up some wonderful floats, came the dark green ball with the large Starfish embossing. I had a smaller Starfish marked float, and jumped at the chance to add the larger Starfish mark to the collection.

From a very nice British woman who also is a member of Angela Bowey's Glass Message Board, and the site: The Glass Museum, I won her auction for a beautiful Portugese? Star. Per's Star came as a surprise gift from him. Having no knowledge of Per's gift,and always wanting one of those floats, I could not pass up bidding on the auction. As you can see from the pic, the seal exhibits a "pie crust" tooling around it's edges. It's a great seal, and the float's glass has a wonderful light cloudiness within. When I opened the box, inside was the wonderful rendition of "The Seahermit," in all his glory. Another great gift!

Caicos Bob sent me an email with an attachment showing a trio of raised neck Swedish floats that he had purchased. The first time I saw one of those was on an auction from Swedie last summer. I almost let that auction get past me until I realized that the float had a pontil mark, and was really a "goody." It was the first time that I'd ever seen a float with that shape, and wondered if there were others. Then Bob sent me the pic of a trio of them, also from Sweden.

Having two alike, Bob decided to put one of them on Ebay. I could not pass that one up either, wanting to have a mate for the first one, and won his auction. A couple of months later, Swedie Ebay-auctioned three-all differently colored. Had to go for it. They are reported to have been used for Herring nets. All were hand blown, attached to a pontil, the necks were shaped, then the finished float was snapped off the pontil. The first float purchased a year ago, is much larger and a different color than those purchased this year. Each of this year's floats are differently colored glass too. No two raised necks are exactly alike, same shape but different workmanship, and one of them shows definite signs of use. These floats are a new float design in my experience, and worthy of further research.

From Ken Busse came the "S" marked float which belonged to Charles Abernethy. That float with its wonderful history, was written about in the last blog post.

Prior to the "S" float, an Ebay seller from England auctioned off about 6-8 absolutely wonderful floats in a very short period of time. Among the floats was a beautiful "Three Crossed Fish," and the hard-to-find "Shamrock". This mark has also been called an, "Irish Shamrock," float, and some have attributed the float to an Irish glassworks. I have not researched the float or Irish glassworks yet. This is a beautiful European float with a mark that the engraver should have been proud of. Over the years I've seen four of them on Ebay-definitely uncommon.

And recently, I won two beautiful 2.5 inch Euros. One, an F1, from Flesland Glassverks came from Marie and Roger in Norway, the second, a Dotted F, came from Dick Chitty in Britain. I've been looking for the small F1 in order to complete the series of small F1, F2 and F3. If there are other numbers in the 2.5 inch Flesland floats, I do not know of them. Does anyone out there have a differently-numbered small Flesland? The tiny Dotted F is another Norwegian float, made with dark green glass, and both floats have beautiful cap nets.

I'll end here looking forward to the arrival of another 2008 float. Last Saturday at 3:33 P.M. an Ebay auction ended, and I won it. I happened to find a float that was attributed to Japan but in reality, is a Russian float. The marking is a beautiful large "3 with a dot." I've only seen two Russian floats on Ebay since I started. Can't wait until it gets here!

This float road that I've been travelling since 1976, continues to wind around blind curves. Every bend in the road has brought me to bliss. I wish you all the same.

If you wish to see the floats in close-up, and see a bit of the rim around the Orange Anchor, simply click on the photos.