Sunday, May 23, 2010

There's Still Hope!

On Sunday, March 1, 2010, the following email from my good collecting pal Olaf arrived:

Good Morning Tom

Hope everything is fine with you today.

I would like to make an effort to obtain the Vallo glass float.
I fully respect if you do not want to be involved. If however, you are positive to help me I would highly appreciate if you could send the following email to the float's owner.


I take the liberty to write indirectly to you via my good American friend Mr. Tom Rizzo whom I have asked to send this email directly to you. He is my reference.

Thanks to you, and your book "GLASS FISHING FLOATS OF THE WORLD" there are many glass float collectors around the world today. I am one of them, living in Oslo, Norway.

I started my interest as a kid, walking along the beaches in the small fjords of south-coast Norway, looking for glass treasures from the sea. The interest took off a few years ago when I was lucky to buy 150 glass floats from Lofoten, North Norway from a man who also showed me your book. I was hooked.

I have all these years specialized in collecting Norwegian produced glass floats, having bought several boxes filled with glass floats from fishermen living along the Norwegian coast-line. My collection today also consists of many beautiful euros.

But I miss one glass float-only one to my knowledge-which is the Vallo float.

The one which you bought from Vebjorn is probably the only known example in the world today. I have been in contact with the National Maritime Museum in Oslo, and I am working on having all my 2350 glass floats to be part of an exhibition there, concerning the coast-culture of Norway. It would be good if I could bring the Vallo float back home, and present to them all the glass floats types/markings being produced in Norway.

With best regards
Olaf Raab

Now, there's a way to start a day! As the reader may know, almost without exception, the first thing that I do in the morning after getting out of bed, is turn the computer on. Next, I go to my emails. As I write this, today is one of those exceptions.

I've been dying to do another post. Friday, as if someone threw a switch, my spring season of selling herbs, perennials and vegetables came to a screeching halt. There was nothing on the books to pick and deliver. No matter how many years I'm in the business of growing plants for the retail market's gardeners, that sudden halt of sales is a shock. I've recovered now, and last night before going to bed, started working on this post. This morning, I did turn on the computer first, but instead of checking for emails, and new floats, have come here to attempt to finish this post.

As I write this, a Woodpecker is trying to attract a mate, and is striking the side of a tree with alacrity. Almost makes my head hurt to imagine what banging a beak into the side of a tree must feel like to that lustful male.

On the morning of Olaf's request email, the very next thing that I did was to write an email to Alan Rammer to introduce Olaf, and included his email. Next, I sent a copy of my email to Alan to Olaf. It brought me great enjoyment to attempt to help out two fine collectors, and certainly, my friend Olaf.

Would Alan consider?

A day or two passed, when at the end of an Olaf email, he included the following postscript:

Hi Tom,

P.S. No news from Alan.
My guess is that he turns the proposal down. I am usually a very optimistic and positive person.

I did make an attempt to assuage Olaf's disappointment by asking him to be as patient as possible, because Alan's life was quite full of responsibility caring for a very special person, and that he would write back. Knowing that the chance of Alan giving up the Vallo was unlikely, I still held out the hope that to bring the Vallo back to Norway was a very worthy entreaty. He would not take that request lightly. Alan would not only write back, but would also need time to consider what giving up the float meant.

Two days later, I received an email from Alan, and quickly wrote Olaf.

Hi Olaf,
Here's a good way to start the day:

Hello Tom,

I would like to write to Olaf about his desire to bring the Vallo float back to Norway.

As much as I enjoy the float, I have come to the conclusion in recent months (since retirement actually) --- that we cannot take our earthly possessions to the afterlife with us, and it is sometimes fun to share an item with someone who just might enjoy it as much as we did.

Can you please send me Olaf's full email address?


There you go Olaf. Now, the possibility of you owning the Vallo, is very real. I wish the two of you great good luck.

Also, I have not asked Alan, but would like to propose something to the two of you . The passing of the Vallo to another collector is tremendous news to dedicated collectors. I would like to do a post on the float, but only if the two of you think that it's a good idea. I'll leave this up to the two of you, but did want to put the prospect out there.

In the meantime, have a great day-I can just imagine how excited you are at the possibility of your desire becoming reality.

Best Wishes,

Olaf's reply was almost instantaneous.

Hi Tom

That is fantastic news!

At least Alan is willing to consider it. That is great!

Thanks for being so kind Tom and be the middle broker.
Highly appreciated.


A few weeks passed. During that time, Alan and Olaf got to know each other a bit, and an agreement was reached to return the float to Norway. On April 3rd. Olaf wrote:

Still awaiting the Vallo to arrive-hope Tuesday. Will let you know.

Then the next Vallo email arrived:


The Vallø arrived today. What a fantastic beauty ! So small, and such nice letters. Can't be a display float. It has definitely been used. The size of only about 3", tells be again that the first floats here were the small ones, like the AAV, AV, HV etc etc.

I am so proud to have that one in my collection, thanks to you and great thanks to Alan Rammer who was willing to dispose of it. Alan Rammer is in fact a very nice man.

All the best


What happiness that brought to me personally. As the time passed between Olaf's original email, and the arrival, there were a few times that I bent Nancy's ear about the trade, and always, the thought of the float going back home gave me a feeling of worthiness in my attempt, and in my desire for the trade to happen.

After the trade was culminated, and the float arrived safely, the next email to Olaf was filled with excitement for him. The knowledge that the float was not one of the 1878 Paris show models, but was in fact, a used float, was wonderful news. Also, Olaf's measurement of the float's size and the photograph of the float next to a standard 5-incher was a surprise.

Thoughts of the engraver's wonderful work on the seal of such a small float, and the person who stamped the embossing on the seal came to mind, as well as the distinct possibility that one or more Vallos might someday be found in a gear pile in an old Norwegian fisherman's boathouse.

Both Olaf and Alan considered my desire to write a post to the blog about the trade, and also sent me their impressions after the float's recrossing of the Atlantic.

From Alan:

Hi Tom,

I have been spending most of this month trying to begin the arduous task of settling the estate of the lady I have called my "Northwest Mom," for 32 years. There has been little time for much else. I have 4 months to try and settle what needs to be done. It's a task involving 57 years of collecting by her and her husband. They threw NOTHING away! So far I have had over 40 cubic yards of stuff hauled off! I also have to get ready for my trip to Europe in less than a month!

I am taking a few moments this evening to try and answer your questions about the Vallo float.

I have only had it a few years and did not fully understood the significance of it until I had told you, and you told Olaf. It is always exciting to have one of a kind floats, and this one was no exception. But in the bigger picture, as I age, this does not really matter. Each float is unique in its own right, and a piece of a larger puzzle to the history of fishing around the world using them.

Yes, at first I did not want to trade it or sell it because I do enjoy my Euros. The aura of it being one of a kind, made it a bit harder to part with until Olaf explained his hopes and plans for his Euro collection one day, as well as this particular float being the only one known and its historical significance.

At the same time, certain events were beginning to take place in my life that made me think about my floats, their importance in regards to the bigger world picture and family issues. I decided it was time for the Vallo float to go home. That is where it belonged. I did not have any problems parting with it this time. It seemed quite right, and actually exciting to send it "home".

While I enjoy my floats, they are becoming less and less the center of my life. I enjoy sharing them with others, and do not need to have duplicates or examples of every kind. It actually brings me joy to know the Vallo float is safely home in Norway. Who knows? Maybe another one or two will come our way in the years ahead?

In this world filled with con artists and less than scrupulous people, Olaf is one of those who is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum - a very honorable man. I will most likely never meet him but I had very good feelings from the moment you put us in touch with each other.

Knowing the Vallo is back where it belongs does not bother me in the least! It actually feels very good!


From Olaf:


A real collector is the collector who feels more joy and more fun by fulfilling other collector's dreams, rather than collect or keep glass floats themselves.
Alan Rammer is a real collector or THE collector.

Ever since I dreamed of getting my Norwegian collection of glass floats complete; and displaying my collection at the Maritime Museum in Oslo, there was one unique glass float that I missed in my collection, the Vallo glass float.

Having looked at thousands of Norwegian glass floats, I had at a certain stage- doubts of its existence, but having seen the photo on Vebjorn's website, there was actually one located on the other side of the Atlantic, in the USA.

I knew the history of the Vallo Glasswork. It was located outside the town of Tonsberg, only 1-hour with car from Oslo. I read that the glassswork had won medals for their glass floats at the exhibition in Paris in 1878.

Alan made my dream come through when he accepted my offer for the Vallo float. He was also so kind to share moments of his life with me, and he enjoyed bringing joy into other's lives. He certainly brought a fantastic joy into my life. If he had been here, he would have seen a big smile on my face when I unpacked this beautiful, olive sea jewel with its beautiful letters.

Also huge thanks for putting me in contact with Alan.

I admire that man, who in my mind is described as AAA. I will always think of him when I look at this fantastic glass float in my collection, presently in my home.

Hopefully, it will later appear at the Maritime Museum in Oslo, where also other people can enjoy looking at-in my opinion-the most unique glass float in Norway, the VALLO glass float.


  1. Anonymous1:52 PM

    Hi Tom.
    What a great post ! A real heartwarming story, I enjoyed it very much, all of it.
    Cheers to Alan, Olaf, Tom and Norway.
    Best regards Todd. ")

  2. This is fantastic! Congrats Olaf and Norway! And thank you Alan!
    Brilliant job Tom, Olaf and Alan.

    Best Regards Per

  3. Very Interesting...
    I was stationed on Midway Island in the Pacfic in the late 60s. I found three glass floats. I didn't realize that the floats had unique markings. I remember seeing clear glass floats in sizes up to 12inches. The three I found are just under three inches in diameter. I have two here at home. One of my daughters has the other.
    If I took pictures of the stamps, would you please tell me about the floats? I can be contacted at joe.blackburn@flash.met