Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Out Of The Blue

A recent post dedicated to "lightening striking Stu Farnsworth twice," has prompted me to relate the same phenomenon striking me in mid-October. I was very fortunate to win one of 2fishin2/Woody Woodward's wonderful auctions for a Blunt Nosed Torpedo Roller.

Woody's auctions have always been as good as they get. After the auction, I sent him an email to say, "thank you" for the opportunity, and to ask if he might have an extra Torpedo Roller to sell.

Woody wrote back, and said that he did have one available. I had been trying to add an example of that beautiful float to my collection for many years. After writing about the Torpedo's availability, Woody continued...,

"I have a few euros, but I think you probably have all the ones I have as I got them a long time ago. You do have an amber M egg float right?

I read that last phrase again: "you do have an amber M egg float right?" Then quickly wrote Woody to say...,

"I do not have an amber M Egg. If you've got one that's available, Man! I would love to get yours."

I did have one once, purchased from Dick Chitty.
Dick makes yearly buying and selling trips to outdoor sales in Norway. Many years ago, he returned with a number of Norwegian Egg floats, and began auctioning them on Ebay. His Egg float auctions were the first that I'd ever seen. I knew of the floats, because on the very first night that I sat down to a computer and Googled "antique glass fishing floats," a site came up that showed European glass Egg floats. I've never forgotten seeing the three photos of those uniquely shaped floats, or reading the too-few paragraphs telling of their age and rarity.

During Dick's first auctions, Woody (who at that time, was one of the foremost bidders for European floats) won Dick's amber M Egg. I wrote Dick to ask if he had another. He did have one to sell. The deal was struck, and for years, I enjoyed having that float in the collection. In the summer of 2009 Olaf Raabe and I began to send emails back and forth across the Atlantic.

Quickly, we began trading floats. One day Olaf wrote to tell me of a beautiful rare float which he had a double of. It was available to me if I could offer a good float to trade. It took a while to figure out what I could offer. I hoped to make an offer that would put a smile on his face, and return the excitement that Olaf's float would give me. It wasn't easy to come up with the right combination. One afernoon, as I was driving, the thought to offer Olaf my amber M Egg came to mind. I had enjoyed that float for a number of years, and while I knew that I would miss it, thoughts of the float that would take its place, gave me the feeling that I should make the offer. Olaf gladly accepted, and we have always been happy with that trade. But, in the passing of time, I found myself missing that float, and began the search for another.

I wrote Dick to see if he might still have one. He was kind enough to look for me, but did not. Dick said that he would keep his eyes open for another. He later found some beautiful Egg floats, but not the amber M. I began a new search by writing collectors who might have one, but again, no luck. Woody never crossed my mind. Years earlier, he had stopped collecting Euros, and devoted himself to building his incredible Japanese float collection. Never giving up hope, I continued looking. Olaf had been searching in Norway for me too.

"Out of the blue," Woody offered me a chance at the missing-from-my-collection Amber M Egg. Good fortune. A gift from a friend. Fate. Not only do I again, have an example of that wonderful float gracing my collection, I have Woody's which was Dick's.

The float arrived last Saturday together with the Torpedo and the Blunt Nosed Torpedo. Whenever I look at or hold the M in my hand, the early years of fun bidding for Euros, the people who have come and gone from the Ebay scene, beginning to build the collection - all of those memories are part of it. It's great to have floats that have a special history. It's great to have a story to relate to Stu, and you.

The photo of the Blunt Nosed Torpedo is Woody Woodward's.
The photo of Dick Chitty, was sent to the author by Dick.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Freezing Weather On The West Coast

Those who have read last fall's post showing my garden with glassballs hanging from the purlins, as well as others on the ground - getting a sunburn, and turning darker, perhaps wondered if I put them inside during the cold winter days and nights? I did protect them during the first winter, but last year, the thought came to me:

"Tom! They're glass. Glassballs have been subjected to all types of weather, from the Tropics to the Artic. They were on the boats coming in from the Grand Banks in winter northeasters with snow and freezing salt spray covering them. There's no reason that they should have any problem staying outside during any season of the year!" So...

Last winter, they stayed outside with no problems at all. In fact, they were buried under the snow for weeks on end, thawed out, frozen - as single digit temps chilled them during the coldest nights, then warmed up in the sun of a new day. When they weren't buried under snow, they were beautiful - hanging there, and shining in the winter sunlight. They charged me up whenever I looked at them.

Todd the "Norsknailpounder," sent an email this morning:

Hi Tom

I woke up this morning and noticed my balls were freezing, just thought you might care. Todd ")

And he included floatos showing me his "frozen balls."


Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning.

Truth is, while there is a sensitive part of me that does care, a bigger part of me, and my balls...have been basking in unseasonably warm temperatures. I've even been working outside sans jacket.

Of course, this glassball collecting farmer has been watching the weather, and knows that a cold high pressure trough has the West Coast to the Midwest in it's clutches. It's only a matter of time until it works its way to the East. I'm spoiled, and don't want these mild temperature to end. So, good reader, perhaps you care that I'm taking the time to share Todd's "frozen balls" with you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

What A Maker's Marking!

Short post today, but I wanted to show the readers a new addition to One Of A Kind Norwegian floats. This float was found in Northern Norway in late April 2011. The float was found on an expedition, and shared with us by The Raven. Don't know what to name it. Is it HGVI with a Cross, or are the letters intended to be read differently? I do not have any further information on the float's size. The Raven speculated that the initials could be:

Fishermens' initials;
2 Brothers initials or
a Father and Son's initials.

Hopefully, as time passes, I can share more about the float's size. Isn't it amazing that after seeing so many initialed floats from Norway's early glassfloat use, that suddenly, something like this one appears! It is so uniquely embossed, and I wonder where the engraver came from? This float seems out of the norm for Norwegian lettered embossings, but as I look at the mark, I see and feel the Viking in it. The cross reminds me of a float that Per Einar found on one of his expeditions. That float's embossing was a somewhat similar cross, but the cross was much smaller, and without initials. Then there is the VG with the Cross, which is a Euro - not Scandinavian float.

Speaking of Scandinavian - not Euro float. For a long time, I've been thinking that the Norwegian, Danish and Swedish floats should not be considered as being European floats. Olaf Raabe and I both think that they should be classified as "Scandinavian" floats.

Often, when writing sellers of floats from countries outside of America, I want to be specific by calling the floats: British, English, Scottish, French, etc., because it seems important to credit the country and its people with the floats made there, rather than lump them altogether. So, do you think that classifying the above named countrys' float as being Scandinavian is worthy?

Last night, I was asked the question:

"how do I post a comment to the blog"?

The easiest way that I know of is to write your comment, add your name to the end of the comment (if you wish to) then when asked for a "profile," just click "anonymous".

I would love to have more comments shared by the blog's readers. The comments add to everyone's enjoyment, and enhance "sharing". For the author of the blog, there is the knowledge that the post has been read, and is interesting enough that it causes comment. Without feedback, the writing sometimes feels lonely. Hope this helps those who have wanted to comment, but were blocked in their attempt when they came to the "profile," part of the submission.

The photo was sent to the author for sharing by the "Raven."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Lightening Struck Stu Twice

Sunday evening an email from Stu Farnsworth was waiting for me. Here is what Stu wrote:

Hi Tom,

Been awhile. I wanted to share some exciting news with you about my awesome new find.

Several years back I had to sell my Grooved Roller to pay off some bills. A serious collector in Hawaii had made me an offer I couldn't refuse, but...I had to let one of my very favorite floats go. Realizing I would never be able to replace it was pretty hard. Life goes on, and we can't take them with us.

Recently, I received a letter from a lady who, with her husband, had run a grocery store on the Marshal Islands several years back. In that time, Islanders would bring in floats to trade for groceries. She had acquired quite a nice group of floats that included two double sausages and several rollers. Her request of me was: could I give her an idea of what she had, and how much were the floats worth? She wrote that she had no intention of selling any. To my shock, in one of the pictures was a Grooved Roller. I had to look at the photo three times - just to believe it was really there.

I wrote back asking her if she would mind taking some scans of the float by itself, and send them to me,which she did. The float not only was outstanding,but still had Bryozoan and Coral attached. I immediately wrote her back,and told her whatever she does, not to ever wash and clean that off. I then asked her if she would ever consider selling it to me? Her reply was:

"No, we want to hold onto it since it was the oddball of all the floats that had been brought in for groceries."

I understood.

With very little money in my PayPal account, and having been let go from my job,I devised a plan. I offered a package deal of floats to a collector, which included a Blue Dot, Cranberry, Side Marked Chinese Star, Chinese Amber Star, a Sun Colored Torpedo and a few other floats not as rare. I thought it was a good deal for both of us, and so did my trading partner. My package deal of floats was accepted. After I received the funds, I decided to make a cash offer for the Grooved Roller. All they could say was "no". I had the shakes as I wrote the email, but I did finish it, and sent it off.

Waited and waited that day for a response which never came back. I felt that maybe I had insulted them. Before I went to bed that night I got on the computer one last time. An email from the lady was waiting for me to open. Her response was:

"If you are really willing to offer that kind of money for this float, we would be stupid not to accept."

My heart was pounding so hard with joy!

I tossed and turned trying to get to sleep that night, and tried to calm myself down. I would not have the float for two weeks. The float's owners live in New Mexico, and were coming up here to visit her Mother in Washington State. They wanted to hand deliver it.

The day finally arrived, and I guess the bottom line is - this is what it's all about. Something like this happening to me is just one of the great things that makes this hobby so much fun. Kind of like what happened to you with the Sickle and Hammer float. I feel excitement having a float like this back into my collection. And I have the float's history and the tale of how it all came about to remember. I now know of only 4 of these Grooved Rollers that exist. Here are the scans I wanted to share with you.


Immediately after reading Stu's email, and looking at the great floatos, I emailed Stu with my impressions, congratulations and the desire to post his story and float to the blog. It's so much fun for me to share these things with you. The stories and floats move me in the happiest of ways. From the kind responses I've received, I know that these shared stories and floats stimulate you too.

Stu answered the next day, and said that he would be really happy to see his story posted for everyone to share in his good fortune. Before I end this post, I wanted to add Walt Pich's writing about the Grooved Roller. The following is found on page 45 of his great book: GLASS BALL A Comprehensive Guide For Oriental Glass Fishing Floats Found On Pacific Beaches:


The grooved roller is another float in the ultra rare category. This unique float is similar in size, shape and color to the D.G. roller, but it has a half-inch groove running the entire longitudinal perimeter of the float. It is akin to the grooves found on the American roller which are wider and deeper than grooved European floats. The sealing button has a small dai mark stamped onto the button's edge. The only example of a grooved roller that I have examined is from the fine collection of Stu Farnsworth."

Thanks Walt.

Walt's books are a must for anyone interested in Asian floats, or like me - all floats. He's a fine writer, and his knowledge of the Japanese floats and their history - gleaned from years of research, expeditions to Japan, the combined knowledge shared by other collectors and his friendship with Woody Woodward make up a history that all of us glass float collectors are very fortunate to be able to learn from and enjoy.

Congrats Stu!