Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"The Russians Are Coming!"

During the weekend, an email from Stu Farnsworth waited to be discovered and opened. Attached to the email were some astounding photos of his newest Russian float acquisitions, and a wonderfully rare Russian float.

Perhaps the readers are acquainted with the Hammer & Sickle float, the 2. and the 3. Russian floats? The Hammer & Sickle, and 3., are not common at all. The 2. very rare. I have heard that one collector has the 2., but have never seen a photo of one. Stu's float - described below - is not only very rare, but this is the first time that I've known of its existence.

The following are a couple of Stu's emails during our last exchange:

"Hi Tom,

Wanted to share with you my good fortune over the last several months. A purchase, then a trade, have added two very old and very hard to find Hammer & Sickle floats to my collection. I now have three, and in my life have had four. Once, I did have two at one time, but traded one, and always felt a bit haunted by that. You know how it is when you let go of a great float. Now, that is a thing in the past.

Just wanted to tell you some very good news that has come my way. I never thought that I would ever be looking at three in my collection at one time. I'm basking in float heaven!


After reading Stu's email, and having my socks knocked off by the photos, a happy reply was sent to to congratulate Stu. The next morning, another email was sent, asking Stu if he would like me to write about his good fortune on the blog? Stu wrote back to say that he would be very happy and proud to see his floats there for everyone to enjoy.

Also, Stu sent another email with a description of the very rare Russian float

"Hi Tom;

Here are a few scans of the float you asked me about. This is actually one of my very rarest floats. I have had it for about 18 years.

Traded a ROSE H float and the Ocean Fresh float during the time I had several of the West Coast Collection. This is the rarist Russian float I'll ever have as I have never seen another, and even Walt wanted to trade for it way back when. It has a Snakeskin float's texture, and a very crude "1" stamped into a circle. It was blown into a 2-piece mold like the Sickle and Hammer floats. It is my real gem, and one I would never trade. It adorns the front of my display case as its place of honor.

Thanks for asking.


Something's been going on. Unlike last year's slow start, and long waits between exciting floats appearing, this year has started off with great floats appearing regularly on the auctions and in trades. Those who live on the West Coast have been experiencing storms with onshore winds, a lot of Japanese debris washing in, large plastic Scallop floats in the drift, logs, and if those onshore winds keep coming, there will be some very fine beachcombing for glass floats soon. With an accumulation of Black Current debris crossing over and into the onshore currents, the spring could be terrific for glass balls.

I've been fortunate to have experienced a setup like the one the West Coast is now experiencing. That year's late April through May was fabulous for beachcombing. I even found a beautiful trio of glass floats after a late 24-hour onshore storm in July.

That spring, on any onshore breeze, glass balls washed in, and many Rolling Pins were hiding in the drifts of Vellela. To find the floats, one needed to look with eyes sharp and focused. It was very easy to lose one's concentration by looking too far ahead, or too quickly over the Vellela. The floats blended into the jellyfish, and in order to find them, I had to look close to me, and cover the patches of Vellela from front to back, and side to side, working slowly and carefully up the beach. Many times excited beachcombers passed me by, talking together and looking everywhere, but without the necessary focus. To the side, and sometimes right in the path they had just walked through, lay a Roller, or small round ball waiting for me to scoop up.

Good luck to all of you West Coast beachcombers, and thanks for sharing Stu.

P.S. The photos are easily enlarged by left clicking on the photos. Enjoy!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Collectors' Favorites 2011 From Roger & Maria Brun

A Roger email is always a surprise. One never knows what he will write about. Over the last few years, we have shared many emails, collaborated on float history, enjoyed some excellent trades, and given each other float gifts and friendship. I like Roger's quiet way, as well as his enthusiasm. He embodies all of the good traits inherent in Yin and Yang philosophy. "Quietly enthusiastic," describes Roger well. His wife Maria is an accomplished linguist. Thanks to her linguistic abilities, she has been a great help translating float history from books, and helping Roger with their wonderful website:

Last fall Roger sent an email, describing the current weather. I thought the readers might be interested in reading what he wrote about the weather at home, as well as what happened to those living on the west coast of Norway.

Hi Tom,

We are doing fine. I had much to do this summer and autumn, but now I'm just waiting for the winter that did not come yet. It feels good that I'm all prepared.

Its been nice that the winter decided to come later this year than previous years. We have had some really nice days. At the west coast and north of Norway its been not so nice, with storms and waves as big as houses. much damage and even lives lost. But this is how it is each year over there when the storms are coming.

OK! That was the weather, a Norwegians favorite topic :)

A week ago, Roger surprised me with the following:

Here comes the first photos of my 2011 favorites.

The Åland floats from Sweden.

The Stokksund Egg - after a trade with olaf in the summer,

Ship's Wheel - also after a trade with Olaf in the very end of 2011.

The Grooved Egg from Todd is marked F1. I do also own a F2 marked float. So, I was thinking that it would be cool to have the F1 as well. What suprised me after receiving the F1 float was that it is smaller than the F2. I was not aware that they existed in two different sizes. 2" and 2,5" wide.

A few days passed. I was writing Jon & Maria Ramberg's post, when Roger added to his list with another email and photos.

Remember we were in Trøndelag in June 2011? I promised long time ago to send you photos of what we found. Here they comes :) These floats were found altogether in a secondhand store.

Some photos of floats that were purchased through e-bay 2011:

French L

and the beautifully netted 8" Made In Czechoslovakia

The BY5 float on the right side of the pair of floats, came from Olaf.

The HD and 7 marked float belonged to Todd, and the Asian 2 on the right hand side of the pair is an Asian float purchased on Ebay.

These floats were purchased from sellers in Sweden. The exception is the beautiful Swirled Bjorkshult. that you sent to me, Tom. That was a big surprise and for sure a favorite #1 in 2011.

The Colorless Compass Marked float is 7,5" and is made of thick solid glass, probably made as a working float.

Small Blue Compass

Cobalt Blue Albrechtsons

Roger sent another email with additional photos and text. He and Maria had quite a year of collecting!

Hello Tom,

Here comes the last photo I wanted to show you.

The Smith Kavelhund

This Kavelhund has the most common anchor - the British Naval Anchor float, two unmarked and molded British floats and one Heye Glassworks float with the older type of Clover marking.
I was thinking when looking at these floats, that all of them look like they are most likely British except for the Heye float. Smith is an English surname. We do not have many Smiths in Norway. It could be that he was an immigrant or maybe his father was? Perhaps he brought these floats with him from Britain?

Roger ended his email with the following:

You dont have to add all the floats photos that I have been sending to you, maybe some the most interesting ones would be enough. It has been a great plesure to see all the new floats from all the collectors, and to read about them.


It is so much fun for me to show the readers all of Roger and Maria's favorites from last year, and to give you a glimpse into the many sources that their floats came from. As Woody Woodward the great Japanese float hunter and collector wrote:

"The hunt is my favorite part of floats.

There is no doubt in my mind that all collectors identify in some way with Woody's sentiment. Daily, keeping the eyes and mind on the pursuit of the prize(s), drives and excites me. Perhaps one day, I will again be able to hunt beaches far removed from Ebay Beach? There are so many places in the world that call to me. To hunt for floats and their histories around the write about and photograph my meet people on the way...that is my dream.

Thank you Roger and Maria.

P.S. For readers who are not familiar with the photos posted, you can enlarge them. Simply put your browser on the photos and left click. It's great to be able to see these beautiful glass floats, and other photos in an enlarged format.