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!

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