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!

Stu"






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.

Stu"






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!

30 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Stu sure is a nice guy, and seeing those nice floats in his collection and knowing the joy he brings to other readers makes me happy for him and everyone who can enjoy them.
    Thanks Stu !! Todd

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Todd,

      Stu is a fantastic person. He has been a mentor to me in this hobby & has saved me from buying a bunch of junk! :)

      BTW....the Beachcombers Fun Fair in Ocean Shores is coming up March 3rd/4th. Are you coming?

      Kamichia

      Delete
  2. Anonymous6:47 PM

    I enthusiastically second Todd's sentiment, Thanks for sharing them Stu.. Rich

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting, I guess you know where the cickle & hammer floats was found or produced? As no Russian fishermen of the people I spoke with had ever heard of them and never seen a glass float in northern Russia and mid Russia..

    Anyway a superb find and thank you for sharing them Stu, do you have any information?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:34 AM

      Hi Per,

      No one knows. Walt Pich wrote about the use of the Hammer&Sickle was regulated by the Russian government, and that only a large company would have used the mark. Few of these floats have actually been found. They are very old, and have been ascribed to the 1920's. Were larger numbers made, but succumbed to the years of use, and destruction?

      It has been speculated that they were made in China, but there is little to base that on. The Chinese Star floats with or without writing are also very old, and as you can see in the photos, two of Stu's floats with the stars are said to be Russian. Still, that is speculation.

      One noticeable thing about H&S floats is the glass texture. They are often very textural to the feel, and stand apart from the Chinese Star floats in that way. As can be seen in the photo of the Circled 1 float, it has that in common with the H & S floats.

      Sadly, there are just too many unknowns at this time, and maybe we just have to be content with the unknown in float history. Tom

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5:10 PM

      Hello again Tom,
      Can you tell me something about the glass, what about the seal? It looks like handblown floats, pumpkin look? They look like they are made by amateurs and not from the many Russian glass works that are well known for producing stunning glassware since approx year 1700 or so. So I guess that they may have been produced in any other communist state, not Russia?? Per E.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous12:35 AM

    I've heard of the 3. marked floats from sellers at antique stores here,
    and found one here myself in a store. Nobody seems to remember seeing a hammer and sickle
    marked float in their stores.
    I wonder if any have washed up on Pacific beaches ? Todd.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous10:10 AM

    In Amos Wood's book is found the following:

    (Russia) Symbol is the hammer and sickle. User and manufacturer are presumed Russian. This marking was first reported in 1936 at Copalis, Washington, then in 1946 at Agate Beach, Oregon. The most recent find was in 1960 at Long Beach, Washington. All are the 3-inch size and mold made.

    If others have been beachcombed since 1960, there is no record of. Stu gave me a story about 2 float hunters in Japan finding an old tumbled down fishing shack. Inside were a couple of thousand floats, that included Chinese Stars, and other very old markings. Deep down in the pile, one Hammer & Sickle was found. The float's new owner was decided by the flip of a coin. Two were purchased last year on the West Coast, and you know of mine from an Ebay seller.

    About the glass: Stu's Circled 1 and the Hammer & Sickle have very mottled and textured surfaces. The 3. and the unmarked that I have are smooth glass. All were produced in 2-piece molds. The seal beads on the 3. and the unmarked are raised and crude. The Hammer& Sickle's seal is round, and flattened. The diameter of the H&S is slightly larger, and as you can see in Stu's photos, the shapes are varied. The colors exhibited in my floats are a nice shade of aqua, with a better glow than the normal Japanese aqua float. Having been made in molds, yet exhibiting varied shapes, texture and rough sealing, they do not appear to have been made by a large company, but rather a small glasshouse, that made anything glass in order to pay to keep the furnace hot, etc. I'm hoping to see a photo of a 2. for comparison. It is very hard to say if the floats were made by the same makers. The mixture used for the glass appears to have had the same ingredients due to the glass color, but there are distinct differences as noted above.
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous12:55 PM

    My isn't this a great discussion. Being the newbie here I might not be all the way inside the box but how about North Korea? Check out this wiki
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer_and_sickle
    sorry it won't paste as a hot link.
    Also check out the current North Korea flag, one single fat star.
    Kim Jong Float 3? They do everything more crudely than the South Koreans, float's about the same size, molded. Just a thought, they sure are beautiful.
    Rich

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually found one of the Russian floats with the star & the dot in the center on a beachcombing trip along the Aleutians about 6 years or so ago. There is a photo of it on my website. It's a beautiful green color, but there is a crack running around the circumference. It doesn't go all the way through, but sadly, it's there.

      I know 1 more collector in Oregon that found a H&S for $15 at a shop in Cannon Beach last year. It was mixed in with the common floats. I met him at the Astoria Sunday Market & he told me the story the day after he found it. He was more than elated! Can't say I blame him considering how much those beauties cost!! :)

      Kamichia

      Delete
  7. Anonymous6:49 AM

    Hello Rich,

    Checked out your link, and enjoyed the read very much. Thanks for that.

    One of the more interesting parts of the link concerned the Chinese use of the Hammer & Sickle symbol. The majority of the speculation concerning where these floats might have come from, if not Russia, has pointed to a Chinese glassworks being the maker. Perhaps one day, we will know for certain - especially if a cache of them is discovered.

    You have also given me an opportunity to encourage everyone who reads this blog to forget about "the box". Everyone is welcomed to enjoy, share their floats, knowledge and comments, without feeling intimidated. This blog is dedicated to history, fun and to all of the readers.

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  8. J. P. Morgan9:49 PM

    I have a glass float I found as a kid around 1959 along the Oregon coast near Lincoln City. It is approximatey 3" to 4" in daimeter. Clear glass, very smooth texture. The bottom is slightly flattened with the letters C.C.C.P. on it along with two more words using what appears to be Russian letters, which I cannot reproduce here since my computer will only print english letters. Any ideal what this float is? The day I found it was just after a very windy stormy night. My prents and I found approximately 50 floats that morning. It was a thrill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5:00 PM

      Hi JP.
      Your float was made in Seattle Wa.by Northwest Glass Co.
      In the early 40s these were made for export to the Russians when WW2 broke out.
      Its a fairly rare float and your story is priceless !

      Delete
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    1. Anonymous8:21 PM

      It was the name of an old comedy movie made in the late 60's early 70's.

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    1. Anonymous8:20 PM

      It was the name of an old comedy movie made in the late 60's early 70's.

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