Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Of My Favorite Places

Fall is less than a week from being officially over. Winter weather has come almost a month early. It's been freezing outside day and night.

While going through a file of float photos from the past year, I looked at shots of my garden spot taken after another wonderful spring and summer growing fresh peas, peppers, tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus, basil and other herbs. I enjoy growing my crops in large pots, inside the first greenhouse my father and I built.

Almost 20 years ago, a carpentry job was traded for the frame laying on it's side in a field. A previous hurricane had blown it over. Only the front door was open in the house during the storm. The back door was closed. A great gust of wind entered, and had nowhere to go but up. So it did, and pulled the house out of the ground stakes.

The greenhouse was used for many years for growing herbs, and was an especially good environment for growing beautiful varieties of mint.

After a couple of years of non-use, I put up a deer proof fencing around the frame, and turned it into my garden. Adding a few floats excited me. Last spring the thought came to me to try sunturning a few floats as well. After a couple of seasons in the sun, they are definitely beginning to darken nicely.

Rereading one of Charles Abernethy's booklets a few months ago, it brought a smile to my face to realize that he too attempted to sunturn floats in his yard. Another thing to share with him. Wish that I could have known him. I like to think we would have been good friends.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A New Float From France

About one month ago, a terrific float that is embossed "JGO Sevill," was sold. The sale originated from France, and I thought that all of you collectors and readers would be interested in seeing a float that as far as this collector knows, no one has ever seen before.

The beauty of the float for me is in the cachet or embossing. It is a beautiful new addition to place name embossings. Many of the known examples of place name floats are as follows:

"VAS Veteria Montelupo F;"

"Societa Art. Vetraria Altare;"

"Made in Germany Clover;"

"Made In Czechoslovakia;"

"Made in Germany;" which is an uncommon maker's mark very similar in design to
"Made in Czechoslovakia;"

"FG Made in Norway;"

"Northwestern Glass...Seattle;"

"Crystallite Glendale Calif;"

"FGC Made in England;

"British Made with the North Star;"

"EXTRA RG Portugal;"

"Cameleyre Freres Arcachon;"

"CA Lindren Punsch Stockholm"

"VG" on the seal and "VIDRIERIAS DEL GUADALETE SA" on one side of the float, and
"PUERTO STA MARIA ESPANA" on the opposite side of the float and

"Made in Japan."

Hopefully, more rare place name floats such as the "Portugal Domar with the large star on the side of the glass, seen in Stu Farnsworth and Alan Rammer's booklet, "The Collectors Price Guide and Identification Handbook-GLASS FISHING FLOATS of the WORLD, will be found and made available to at least one of us collectors. As suddenly as the "JGO Sevill," appeared, another great float will surface. Ken Busse has been offering some terrific floats on Ebay auctions lately. There are more than a few that are tremendous and rare floats. Wonder if Santa will make this good boy smile?

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Whale Of A Tale

Gregsboat1 recently sent an email. In the email, Greg looked back at the fun we had together with Todd "the Norsknailpounder," writing the "Sad Tale of Stranne & Oresten." There is another tale that needs to be written. While the tale contains a good dose of humor, it also contains a hefty portion of "pathos." It's the story of our "Camel-riding-glass-float-finding-friend" Per Einar Gunnersen, and one of the "Holy Grail" of floats.

One just never knows what will pop up when opening up emails. A research question sent from Todd to me, then referred to Per Einar resulted in the following:

I also have some interesting news from a guy up north, but I don't know the
end of the story or if he will sell. Story is:

I just wonder if you are interested in a purchase from 3 glass floats that I found?
"It depends on the makers marks." I said.
It is two perfectly netted amber/brown glass floats in mint condition, and they both
have a whale mark. The second float has AAS mark.
"Very interesting," I said "and of course, I am very interested."
How much are you willing to pay for each float? he asked...
and I bid higher and higher and higher...
Then he said, alright I will contact you later on or so.
This happened several weeks ago or maybe two months ago, and I haven't heard from him again.
I have his phone number and will do a phone call when I am back home again
from my vacation to Sicily (Italy), Rhodes, Ephesus, and Egypt late next
I have never seen those whale marks on glass floats, but now I know that the
color is amber or brown the Norwegian seller told me. Maybe I will ask
for some pictures!!
How much will an Amber Whale markt glass float with perfect net sell for?
How many glass float collectors are interested in having this Whale Markt
glass float in their collection?

Holy Smokes! I couldn't start typing fast enough. A Whale marked float, two of them, incredible!

Good Morning Per,

What a great email to wake up to. It's good to hear from you again too.
Now, about the hopefully...Whale marked floats. Per, I don't know when you
are leaving, but two things are very important concerning these floats.

First, if you put those up for auction on Ebay, you can start thinking
thousands of dollars. No one has ever had an opportunity to purchase even
one of those. They are one of the holy grail of floats, not only for the Euro
collector, but also to the Japanese collectors. I don't think there is a
float collector alive who doesn't know about, and hope to one day see or own
a Whale or Lighthouse marked glass float.

The second thing, you must at least get photos of those floats that show the
marking well. If possible, jump on this opportunity now! Don't halfstep trying to get as fast as you can! If you can get them it would be the coup d'etat of glass float finding. I wish you the best of good fortune.

Oh Man! My head was full of Whales. Since writing the Whale and Lighthouse post, the thought that we are getting closer to actually seeing one or both of those floats has been in my thoughts daily. There were even times, when I felt that giving my imagination free rein to pursue the thought of those floats' reality was aligning the cosmos, and that one might even come to me. I felt close to the realization. Suddenly, Per's email made all of those yearning thoughts come together. But one must be cautious in times like this. I wanted to tell all of my collecting Buds about this, but had to be like a fly fisherman slowly sneaking into position to cast a fly to a 6lb. Brown Trout hiding behind a rock-only, this was a Whale!

The next day, Per wrote again:

Hello again my friend!

I have some outstanding news for you. Please don't tell anyone yet.

Story is:

Just a few minutes ago I had an very interesting phone call with the owner
of those whale floats etc., I told you about yesterday. We agreed on a
deal for 5 glass floats. I am very happy. The floats will arrive in the
next days/week. I have to collect the package on a vessel when it docks here at Bergen Harbor.

There are 5 glass floats, five very interesting glass floats:

Two brown/amber glass floats with a Whale Mark;
One Light Green glass float with a Whale Mark;
One Dark green/olive glass float with a ThreeFish Mark and
One IceBlue glass float with a knob or something and an AAS Mark. (some
scratches from use at sea)

He also told me that he had several floats available and old fishing gear. We will discuss everything when the first box is collected at the vessel.

This is very interesting Tom, and I can't tell you how excited I am right now. It will be very interesting to shoot a few pictures from these floats, and send copies with the history to my good friend Tom.

Take good care my friend!

Holy Mackeral...or Whale! Holding this all in, and not sharing the news with everyone was like a balloon that you keep blowing up, your eyes crossed, as it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Will it pop if I blow some more? Or like blowing a wad of chewing gum into the biggest bubble you can, as your friends look on. It's great fun when that bubble breaks all over your lips, nose, cheeks and chin, but in this case, I didn't want either Per or myself to be laughed at. Mums the word. Then I receive another email from Per...and so does everyone else.

Hi Everyone,

I have a few floats up for sale this week, beautiful floats and start price is low. I also want you to listen at my next news from Norway concerning glass floats and super rare finds here in Norway. I guess I have found the holy grail among glass this find is just gorgeous and you all have to tell your float collector friends out there about my last find. I will tell you more and give you exact information about glass float mark, age, condition etc. from this blog in mid- September and on the seahermit blog (Tom's blog) in mid-September. Remember to look into these web sites often. THIS FLOAT FIND IS SUPER WOW!

Per couldn't hold it in. Who can blame him? An email was quickly sent to Per:

Hard to keep it under your hat isn't it!! Good job of setting the stage for the ship coming in. I can't wait to see your photos, and to read the history of how you got them. I haven't told anyone but Nancy what's going on. I have to bite my tongue when speaking or writing to other collectors. Great excitement!

Now, I was on the hotseat. Emails from collectors started coming in, all asking if I knew what Per had found. My pal "the Raven," sent a number of emails trying to crack my shell. How hard it was to keep a secret from him. This was my confident and pal asking me for details, but I'd given my word to Per, and what good is your word, if you can't keep it? Thankfully, the Raven is a Pal, and understood. The days passed, then Per wrote:

Good Morning Tom,

I was on the phone again with seller yesterday evening, and everything seems to be alright. Floats are onboard the ship. Tomorrow we will have all answers. Are these floats a dream? Are the maker's marks what they are supposed to be, super rare, holy grails from mid-Norway? What about the story: where did he collect those rare floats; etc; etc.? Who made these glass floats with a Whale, the Norwegians?
A whale showed up on the surface, and took a few rounds around a tiny boat today just outside Bergen Harbor. You can se the news at my safari blogg. Is it a coincidence or a sign?? Mysterious. Maybe it is the Holy Grail! and those whales are the guardians, he, he.

Today, tomorrow, the next day...then Saturday morning came. I was up at the crack of dawn, and quickly wrote Per and email:

Morning Per,
Woke up to the realization that it's Saturday, and soon you will have your package in hand. I wanted to wish you Good Luck!

Within a few hours I'll finally be able to let the air out of the balloon. It will be like my old chum Eddie and I blowing up balloons in the Walt Whitman Theater while watching a horror movie. The theater was absolutely quiet. Everyone was waiting for the scary surprise to pop out from the screen. Girls were holding onto their date's arms, knees snuggled in, toes curled under, eyes closed, or behind cupped hands. At just the right moment-the moment neither of us could wait any longer for, we gave eachother the nod, then let our balloons go. Swooshing up toward the screen, screams, giggles, laughs followed. What a pair we made!

Per wrote back:

Scheduled time at the Harbor is 15:30 European time or 09:40 New York time today. I will send my first picture when I am looking at the vessel and meeting the Chef onboard. Just something to add on the Seahermit blogg.

We speak before you know it Tom, take care!


Only a few more hours. I couldn't wait to see the photos of those floats. Already, I had pictures in my head of what they would look like. There were three of them. What would the embossed amber Whales look like in their nets? A colorless example too. Would the embossings look like the drawings given to Stu and Alan by Bruce Gidoll? What would it feel like to actually be typing a blog post, and proudly showing those first photos to the world and all of my collector friends and readers? Oh boy!

Excitedly, while eating breakfast with Nancy, I told her about the latest news of Per's adventure. Couldn't help looking at the clock. Then the appointed time came, and I quickly opened up my email account. Not yet. 15 minutes later, I was back in front of the computer again. Finally, the email and photos arrived.

Subject: Holy Grail floats and something for your blogg............

Hello and good afternoon!
First, look at the beautiful view from the vessel and Bergen Harbor, seeing
the top of the mountain Ulriken, where I grew up.

I've been down at Bergen Harbor looking at the vessel from the Hurtigruten Group, and was having a meeting with the Chief onboard. He was the messenger from the float collector up north at the Brønnøysund area. As you remember, I told you about those super rare floats, concerning Holy grail marks, ASS with a knobb..where is the knobb on the blue one (look at pictures) he, he, he, !

Take a closer look into the picture. Tell me which float is the Whale
markt float, and where is the three fish?? Here's the famous glass floats:

I came onto the vessel. Said hello to the Chief, and he gave me a plastic bag filled with glass floats wrapped in bubbleplastic. He found a butcher's knive to cut them open, and I felt a little sceptical. What if he damaged these valuable glass floats? He insisted that there was nothing to worry about. He wanted me to look at
those floats before leaving the vessel. "Alright," I said, but I didn't have
my glasses on. How can I examine all floats and float marks!

One by one he opened the bubble plastic and I was able to examine the floats. All of the floats looks like ordinary glass floats without any marks, exept for the tiny blue on the right corner of the picture. It has a damaged AAS mark. That's all.

Those glass floats above are JUNK, I felt like the guy who have been busted or something. Am I on hidden camera or something? This must be a joke!!

I am a little bit dissapointed but not much. He,he,he. Not every fisherman or what
this seller does for a living, has the Know How about glass floats. He, he,
he. Where is the Whale marks? Ohhh Myyy! I am blind or need new glasses!

"Do you see any makers marks or whales stamped or etched into those glass floats
Chief," I said!

"NOO..Nothing," he said.

"I have to bring all floats back to the guy who sendt them."

"That's the best you have said today," I said.

Then I took my jacket, took my leave, and walked down to my SUV just to find my vehicle with a FLAT REAR TIRE...DAMN!

He, he, he, he.

Anyway, I had a superb new tire hanging on my SUV, no problem! :):)

But I still feel BUSTED!

Definitely not my day today, but I had a gut feeling that told me that this
purchase of the Holy Grail Floats may be too good to be true!

Have a great weekend and take good care!


P.S. Feel free to use it on your blog together with the whale story and those pictures I was sending you from the vessel and floats. I guess the best part was when I got back to my SUV just to find it with a flat tire, he, he, he, what a day and experience!
It was not easy to get an answer for where to find the chef on-board the ship because of safety and security reasons too and I had to argue a lot, he, he, he and when I finally found him and he opened the bubble plastic, he, he, he, just junk and damaged AAS marked ice-blue 3" glass float together with amber and dark green ordinary unmarkt 5" floats.

Well, there you have it. What do I do with the story? How do I respond to the collectors who are waiting for info? This is a funny story, and should be told, but maybe Per is feeling embarrassed? I feel a bit embarrassed myself. There's got to be a way to write the comical side of this whole experience. Have to email Per again.

Hi Per,

After reading your email, I wanted to comment on your feeling that "this was too good to be true"! I had the same feeling, and the need to be cautious as well living up to my word to not "spill the beans". Still, the exciting thoughts and fun sending eachother emails is the best part of our experience with the Whale.

Still a major Bummer!! Makes you wonder what that guy was drinking? Can I have some!! ")

Truly sad that this did not pan out for you as well as all float collectors. So, we're still waiting for the Whale and the Lighthouse.

Thank you for all of the excitement, and for your efforts to make this happen. Nancy and I wish you, Tone and your parents a truly wonderful
vacation experience. I look forward to your return, and your emails.

The story has been brewing in my noggin ever since. A week ago, Per sent me the tale of his vacation, especially the tale of him and Tone getting up on a camel, and the aftermath. That story is for Per alone to tell, and it is a good one too! He also included his wonderful photo found at the top of this post. What a great guy! He gave me permission to not only write this "Whale of a Tale," but also to use the great "Camel-riding-glassfloat-hunting Pal" we've all had such a great time with over the years-Per Einar Gunnarsen.

To truly appreciate the great photo of Per on the camel, put your cursor over the photo, left click and enjoy the enlarged photo.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Buff's Float Rating Guide

After months of gathering the opinions of Glass Fishing Float collectors concerning what should or should not be important to a glass fishing float guide, Bob Buffington sent me the following concise description tool:

Glass Float Grading Scale

If it’s a trade that is being discussed between individuals, or a sale on an auction site, a clear description that is understood by both parties is the most important tool to completing the deal. To avoid miss-communication, the better the description, and photo(s), the smoother the transaction.

Some Glass Float collectors specialize in collecting a certain type or types of floats. A float may be collectable to one person yet undesirable to another. Below are most of the categories glass float collectors specialize in:

Misshapen floats;

Floats with water inside;

Floats that are unused in appearance;

Floats with internal spindles;

Colors other than the normal colorless, green or aqua floats, such as red, purple, bright and cobalt blue, swirls of colors, orange, violet, and various shades of amber;

Floats with an embossed maker's mark;

Sea Worn Working Floats with definite signs of usage including scrapes, chips, sand abrasions, sea growth, etc.;

Floats with Barnacles or Coral attached;

Floats Painted with folk art, historical paintings or painted for identification of a user's nets for trawling on the water;

Floats Still Encased in their protective cap-net or wooden box;

Shaped Floats such as Dog Neck Floats, Egg Floats with and without Knobs and Grooves, One Knobbed, Teardrop or Lightbulb Floats; and others such as Double Sealed or Bi-Polar Floats.

Some collectors specialize in just one or two categories of floats, and many collect more than one of the categories mentioned above.

The following scale was developed with the input from many of the world's leading collectors. Kindly understand that the scale is merely a means of achieving a standard that can be used as a reasonable descriptive tool, and the intent is not to determine a final price, or rarity of float for sale or trade. A collector may be willing to trade or buy a float that is very low on the grading scale for a very high price. A specialty float collector may not trade for or buy a magnificent float, because it does not fit their collecting philosophy or goals! The intent of the scale is to have a universal reference or starting point. Simply, a quick means of clarifying a float's condition and attributes.


P- Premium A top grade authentic float that appears to have never been used or shows little signs of usage, with a bold and complete maker's mark if present. No maker's mark need be present if the float was never intended to be embossed, and it should have a complete seal button. No chips of any kind. If netted, then cap-net fully intact.

AAAbove Average An authentic working float with nice glass that may have a usage nick or abrasions that are very hard to find or see, no cracks, with or without a complete maker's mark ie: no mark need be present if the float was never intended to be embossed. Up to a few burst surface bubbles is acceptable. Very light or tiny chipping on the seal button, and it may have slight wear marks on the base or side from sitting. If netted, then cap-net may have some frayed lines but largely intact.

G - Good A used float with nicks on the seal button, a weak maker's mark or no mark need be present if the float was never intended to be embossed. Tiny bruises, small chips, burst surface bubbles are all acceptable, as well as scratches and body nicks. No exterior cracks or impact star cracks. It may also exhibit surface scale from marine growth. If netted, the cap-net may be complete, incomplete and/or partially missing.

F – Fair A well-used float with multiple nicks or chips off the seal button, a partial maker's mark, bruises or chips on the body of the float, scratches, burst surface bubbles, exterior cracks and/or impact star cracks, lots of sea wear, surface scale and sand abrasion.


It should be noted that subsurface cracks can be a result of the production process. You will not be able to feel the crack on the surface. The most common cracks fall into the following categories: subsurface cracks with or without a surface bruise or ding, concussions-appearing as star-like bruises, and finally, running cracks that penetrate from the surface completely through the glass.

It was important to Bob to finish the Guide with a short discussion on cracks. Collectors need to know what kind of damage a float has sustained. For many, well-worn, pitted, scraped, sand abraided, dinged, covered in various forms of sea growth and even certain types of cracked glassballs would rate as a premium float to them. Cracking can be just fine in a float, but that is up to the collector to decide, so there is a need to be certain of the type of crack present.

Bob's guide is short and sweet, and is a very helpful tool to simplifing the description process for experienced collectors as well as sellers who often say in their descriptions, "I don't know anything about floats." It is an additional tool to be used in the trading or selling of floats, and hopefully, Buff's desire to produce a float condition guide, will give all of us something that will be widely recognized as time passes.

Thank you to the following glass fishing float collectors for their opionions concerning the guide:

Roger & Maria Brun;
Richard Carlson;
Stu Farnsworth;
Bill Jessop;
Todd Marvik;
Olaf Raab and to the guide's creator
Bob Buffington.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Now, There are 5

On June 10th. 2010, the fourth example of a Ship's Wheel float was won on an Ebay auction. The float was found in France, as was the third example, also sold on Ebay.

As you may remember, in the February '09 post "How Does It Make You Feel?", the first evidence of a float with this rare mark was found by Richard Carlson, while beachcombing a Carribean Island. That float is a sun turned, partial float, with the seal, and one side of the ball intact. The top of the float and the other side of the ball were broken off, and missing. Rich's find was very exciting. For the first time, readers saw the photos, and were treated to a previously unknown Euro float marking.

In June '09, Clint-another Carribean beachcomber, was featured on the blog together with his find of the first whole example of a Ship's Wheel. It too was sunturned.

In September '09, Odev put up for auction on Ebay, the third. Paul is a collector of wonderful art glass.

Keir Lewis-a rare bottle collector, followed that auction in June 2010, with the second Ship's Wheel found in France. Both of those auction floats were sunturned too.

The Odev find was won by Todd, the "Norsknailpounder". The Keir Lewis auction float now resides in the colletion of the "Sea Hermit". During the June auction, email information concerned an effort being made to obtain a 5th. Ship's Wheel arrived. The story was that it was being pursued in England.

Amazing. A previously unknown European float suddenly appears, and in the space of 16 months, four more are found. When I saw the first one, thoughts of it being in the same category of rare floats as the Whale and the Lighthouse floats, came to mind. I believe that it is still a rare float, and wonder if and when another will be found?

As you look at the photos above, the 5th. example is definitely interesting. In the photos I've received of it, the float appears to be colorless. If there is sunturning in the color, it is very faint. Without proof, my feeling is that this marking was done by a French glassworks.

In the collections of those who comb the beaches of the Carribean, are many floats made in Portugal, Spain and France. There are also a few that I know of, from Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Germany, one American-made Duraglas and some Benthos Deep Sea Research Balls. I do not know of floats from Norway having been found from the islands in those waters.

If there are glassballs from other countries found there, kindly leave a comment below. Tracking finds, is a very useful tool of glassfloat research.

One thing that I am convinced of...the floats that are commonly found in the Carribean were lost by Portugese fishermen. There are also "Great Ones," or Japanese Tuna longline floats found there as well. Those "Great Ones," may have been used by Russian fishermen working those waters, and there is a story of a Japanese fishing company having worked from a South American port.

I have not been able to verify either the Russian or Japanese connection. Both stories have come to me via "word of mouth". The Portugese link also comes from word of mouth, but the teller of that history is a very trusted individual who knows his local history, having grown up in the Carribean, and who said that he witnessed the Portugese fishermen there when he was a boy.

By the end of this week, my friends from last October's Carribean beachcombing adventure, will be back in the brush hunting floats. Will they find another Ship's Wheel? I'm hoping they do, and I'm also hoping they find the first Lighthouse or Whale down there. I am guessing that those floats were either Portugese, Spanish or French-made, and have thought that it was the Portugese fishermen who used them. Only time will tell. The excitement to see the first ones, and other rarities from those islands is always with me.

The Floatos starting at the top of the post:

1. Todd's photo of the Marked seal of the 5th.;
2. Author's photo of the Ship's Wheel mark on the 4th.;
3. Todd's photo of the Mark of the 3rd. Ship's Wheel;
4. Bob's photo of the 2nd. Ship's Wheel with dried debris;
5. Richard's photo of the 1st. Ship's Wheel and
6. Todd's photo of the Ship's Wheel Comparison showing the English-found float on
the right.