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.


  1. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Thanks to Tom for all the time he put into launching the float guide on his blog! It was a lot of work and time spent on his part. Please feel free to send in your thoughts, both negative and positive. The scale needs to be considered functional and useful, any criticism is welcomed and will be considered for addition to the Grading Scale. My many thanks to those who contributed their thoughts, opinions and taking time to review. Those listed above were of a divided camp and truthfully not all were in total agreement with the final Grading Scale. I did the best with the input I recieved. But, all things have to start somewhere. A rarity scale also needs to be developed, and will take a lot of input from many.
    Bob Buffington

  2. Anonymous10:02 AM

    Thanks for the comment Buff. A rarity scale with photos, would be a terrific piece of work. Although there comes a point when floats that were rare, seem to those of us who hunt on the web, and trade, to become common, the fact is: if 10 floats of a one-time "rare" mark, color or shape are found, out of the millions that were produced and used during glassfloats' 100 plus-year period, in my book, ten of them does not really detract from the fact that a particular float is rare. There may come a time when there are more collectors, and those "ten" will be very desireable and very rare. I hope we can do a great piece on rare floats. While many of them are shown throughout this blog, and on Roger and Maria's site, Gems of the Ocean, Kamichia's site and other collectors' sites-there are so many beauties that have not been properly "exposed".

  3. Anonymous6:26 PM

    Hi, I would love to see all the one of a kind floats and especially those floats we see in Stu and Alans book that are in hiding.
    Thanks so much for all your hard work and everyone elses contributions....Todd

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  5. Anonymous5:35 AM

    Brilliant work and interesting too, excellent photo work.

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