This is the true story of how I found one of my most treasured floats. Before Rich and I figured out how to find floats on the Carribean Islands we travel to, I met one of the oldest men on the Island. He is truly an amazing individual who has spent his entire life living off the land and sea. When I first met him, I bought a beautiful sea shell he had on a table in his home. While there, I asked him if he ever found any glass balls. In his gravely voice he apologized that no, “all the great ones are gone”, “all I find now are the little ones”. Bingo! I told him I didn’t care what size they were, I would buy any that he found. For about three or four years-every time I went to visit him, he had a gunny sack with 10 or 15 floats in it. On one trip as I was going through his bag, I pulled out the amber/yellow swirled float. He apologized because he said, “it is messed up”. He would not let me pay him for it. Amazing!!
Every year amazes me more than the last as I get the opportunity to meet more and more collectors. Through Tom and Rich I met a great and very knowledgeable gentleman from Norway. We corresponded several times, sharing float collecting philosophy and sharing personal collection information. Later, we assembled some trade possibilities that turned out being mutually beneficial. I can’t really say that one single float that I received was my favorite, so I have included a photo of a group that traveled across the Atlantic to my home in the heartland.
A great float that came my way in 2010 was not a personal find, but came by way of many connections. The float found its way to me as a result of a purchase arranged by Rich and Tom from a gentleman near the far north end of Norway.
It traveled in a box with other floats to Tom, who then sent the remaining floats on to Rich, who then removed the floats that he wanted, and sent home the remaining floats with my son Evan for me to check out.
When Tom purchased a bunch of amber floats in the deal, he told Rich that there was a marked one. Knowing that I would love to have a marked amber float, Rich asked Tom, "Could Bob have that one, since he started the whole amber float purchase?" In that well traveled box was a great surprise!! A stunning, brown/swirled 3 inch +P.C.F.+. What a great couple of guys.
From the author: No problem there! It was a perfect opportunity to say "thank you Bob for your friendship, and the great invitation and adventure in the fall of 2009. After seeing Bob's beauty, you can bet I took a number of photos and yearn to have one myself someday!
Two trips with Rich stand out in my mind. The first trip that Rich and I found floats was in 2005. He found the brown one on our island, then later that same vacation/work trip, we went out on a boat with a good friend of mine-Scott Cornell and his wife Angie.
We went to a small neighboring inland, boating through a nice cooling rain on the way. We had no idea what to expect. Once on the shore the great hunt began. Neither, Rich nor I knew much about floats at the time other than we wanted to hunt and find them.
After walking just a few yards from the boat my friend Scott held up a perfect yellow amber ball and said, “is this what we’re looking for”? "@#!* Yea," I responded, "that’s right." Then just a little further along I looked down and here was this float with lots of letters on the surface looking right at me. Only later, did I realize that I had found the venerable Vetreria Montelupo F VAS in like new condition!
When Rich and I feel we are in a “hot spot” we will change the lead from time to time so one person doesn’t get all the virgin territory. As usual it was very hot, we were trying to get back to the boat on time to avoid being trapped by the tides. We trudged through soft sand that was like walking through a 12” soft snow. We sat down to take a break under a Cassarina tree, and Rich said, “Buff why don’t you take the lead”. I did and that’s when I found my first “Great One”, and my first and only “Golden Amber” float. Thanks to Rich!
From Paul Scott:
12" Pumpkin. Very interesting floats. No one at this time, has been able to reveal evidence as to who or where the maker originated from. Are these floats Japanese, Korean, Chinese?
These photos show my 14 1/2" Daiichi Glass Fused "Sunburst" DG in circle
10" Japanese Blue Dot A wonderful and hard-to-get float in this size.
Japanese Ice Blue This one has a beautiful Maker's Mark, but Paul couldn't photograph it without the sun's reflection blowing the mark up in a ball of glare.
3" Blue Snakeskin The Snakeskin floats are few in number. They were produced for use as an attractor for Octopus, and Squid, and were expensive to make. The fishermen found that they were no more effective at catching then the basic aqua roller was, so they were not purchased or produced in large numbers. A complete collection of the colors: red, green, orange, blue and golden amber are very difficult to obtain. There are only a few complete collections known.
The Bullet Roller is another mystery float. Walt Pich has written that none of these have been found beachcombed on mainland Japanese beaches, or found in Japanese gear piles. They have been found on North American Pacific beaches and on the beaches of Pacific islands. They are one of the rarest forms of rollers.
Medium Jumbo These are a slightly smaller version of the Japanese Jumbo Rollers. There is an interesting story of the Jumbo Rollers having been used in a clandestine drug trade. According to Walt Pich they were developed to replace the wooden barrel markers on longlines. Just as the Norwegians developed the very large Teardrop float aka Lighbulb or Sea Dog floats-to replace wooden barrels, the Japanese developed the Jumbo Rollers, which were first made about or prior to 1920.
Wooden barrels were used for a very long time to mark all types of fishing gear, but because they often became waterlogged, it did not take long for large glassfloats to replace them. Once again, I am wondering if the large Demijohn, or other large shaped bottles were used as markers at a very early time? Not every fisherman could afford them though, so they are small in number, and considered to be top shelf floats in any collector's collection.
Todd Marvik, and Roger & Maria Brun have sent in commentary and photos for the next blog post of favorites. I'm very happy that the responses I've gotten have all said how much fun the readers are having with this idea of Bruce Gidoll's.
Here are two additional photos, the first is of a complete collection of Japanese Snakeskins, the second is of a very rare Swedish Snakeskin from Enerdya Glassworks.