Saturday, July 30, 2011
Writing to you has been on my mind for months, but I have to ask the readers for their understanding. Life has thrown our family a hard curve to negotiate. In mid-May, my Wife was diagnosed with cancer, and we have been fighting the battle since that time. There just has been no free time that I did not want to spend with Nancy, so my writing had to take a backseat. Things have stabilized a bit. The desire to write is so strong, and it rained last night, giving me a break from hours of watering the plants that I grow for my business.
An excellent auction ended last Sunday for a never-before-seen float on Ebay. It was a tightly-netted, bullet shaped and colorless glass float offered by Olaf Raabe the "Float Collector Extraordinaire". The auction attracted a number of bidders, and for those who missed it, those who would like to know more or those who are lucky enough to have one, for my first post since the spring, I've chosen to write a bit about these "new" floats.
Perhaps it's best if I copy and paste "FCE's" email writings about the float for you. From the beginning:
"Spoke to Mr... today. Very interesting news.
He has found a new type of egg up north. Tom, I thought I had them all. Clear glass, moulded, and oval at both ends-but no knobs, 5 cm wide and 12 cm long. He has no camera, but said that he will send me one float for inspection. To me they sound a bit like larger Hovigs, but without the knobs., and were made in a mould. Strange?
Think I can get hold of a few. Are you interested ??"
Excitedly, I wrote back, and answered that I was absolutely interested, and excited to see Olaf's first photos when the float arrives."
In Olaf's next email he wrote:
"The net with the bullets was found not far from and south of the Namsos area in Stokksund, close to AAfjord, up north. The eggs were attached to fishing nets for catching Hyse, a type of small Cod, and were not for eel nets. These are no doubt new to the collector market, like Hovig. Do you see the mould marks in the photo? There are not many bubbles in the glass, and some have none, so I don't think they are amongst the oldest made floats."
In a subsequent email, it was written that the owner of the net kept a few of the floats, Mr... kept something for his collection, and a few others were available to Olaf, which he desired to make available for serious collectors. The "Float Collector Extraordinaire," has the most "well-rounded" collection of Norwegian floats that I know of. His ability to find and add spectacular floats to his collection is paramount, and he is constantly kind to everyone he trades with. The friendship we share is a true gift in my life. While I know I'm digressing, the desire to let the readers know a bit about this fine man is important to me. To continue...
Olaf and I write eachother as often as possible, and the majority of our email conversations are about floats and their history. When Olaf wrote to tell me of this spectacular find, the first thing I asked him was what they should be called. It was thought that "Stokksund Egg Float," would be a good name. At this time, there may be no other examples of this float found on that lone net in Stokksund. There was a float auctioned in Norway a couple of years ago, which was so heavily netted that it is impossible to know if it too was a bullet shaped egg. Perhaps that float's owner will read this post, and let us know if his float is a bullet shaped Egg Float?
Olaf wondered about a few things concerning the origin of these floats, and said:
"There is one thing I do not have an answer to. If you look at the glassworks in Norway, there is one group North in the Namsos area".
From Olaf's knowledge, together with the map found in Vebjorn Fiksdel's booklet Norwegian Glass Fishing Floats comes the following:
Survig 1809=1821 (Survig Glasverks is noted to have stopped production in the year 1821. We are wondering if the very old "S" marked floats were from Survig?) and Holmen 1812-1840.
There were 3 on the west coast:
Bergen Glasverks later renamed Flesland 1875-1951 and
And many located in the southeastern part of Norway including:
Schimmelmann 1770-1832 (where brown/amber unmarked glassballs have been found by diggers);
Vallo 1874-1877 and
"I have never seen a clear "colored" glassfloat made at the glassworks north and west. We both know the clear glass floats are more difficult to make without chemical additives, because of the iron oxides present in all but the purest of sand."
"The only clear colored glass floats in Norway are the Moss floats, the Hovig Eggs, maybe Laurvig and the Teardrop or Sea Dog floats. Now, we have these Stokksunds. The only moulded made glass floats in Norway are those from Flesland, which are aquamarine colored. I wonder if the large brown eggs, and the bullets could be early Flesland/Bergen made floats? We have to research more into this."
I was very fortunate to obtain two of the Stokksund floats for my collection. One of the float's nets was damaged, which allowed me the freedom to cut it off in order to see the glass. I agonized over the cutting of the net for a few weeks, but my curiousity finally won out.
As you can see from the photo of the netted float, the net is very tight and in the net, one cannot truly see the float's complete shape, mold lines or clarity. There was a residue under the net as well. The roping used is unique. I do not have another example of that type of rope on a float. It appears to me to be Dacron, and is now, gray/white in color.
The float itself is not only differently shaped from any other egg shaped Norwegian float, it also does not have a normal seal button, or "seal bead."
The term, "seal bead," was recently described to me by Frank Wheaton, the past owner of Wheaton Glassworks (a more than 100 year old, family-owned business located in Southern New Jersey).
The float was blown into a mold, likely a 2-piece mold, although it does have a line that intersects the end-to-end mold line and circles the middle of the float. That line is not only hard to see, but on my float, is not raised enough to feel.
The float appears to have been blown into the mold, and the cut off of the glass gather at the blowpipe, was then pressed down, and perhaps heated with a torch to smooth and completely seal the float. I've never seen an authentic float with that type of seal, although the Japanese sometimes twisted and pinched as a way to seal the ball. This is different.
There is a rare variety of Japanese float that is also bullet shaped, and called a "Bullet Roller". It is larger than these little Stokksund Eggs, and has a normal seal button or "seal bead".
The Stokksund Egg Float is a new addition to the many shaped floats that were used in Norway to catch a variety of food fishes. There is news of another new shape recently found. I've been told that it is a Teardrop style of float, and am eagerly awaiting the first photos. At this time, there is only one known example of that float. There have also been a handful of new marks found during this year's Norwegian springtime. One of them is spectacularly embossed, and will be shown soon. It's good to be back on the blog. With good fortune, I'll be able to write again soon.