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The Douglas Yeo Floaty (Float, Floating, Tilt) Pen

NOTE: The Douglas Yeo Floaty Pens are SOLD OUT as of November 15, 2008, as is my Le Monde du Serpent floaty pen. This page is maintained on my website for information only.

NEW Pen #2 back panel

Pen #1 back panel

What is it?

The floaty pen (also known as a float pen, floating pen or tilt pen) is a classic piece of collectible artwork which attracts devoted collectors from around the world. These unique pens can usually be found in airports or tourist/souvenir shops. Floating pens were first made in the second quarter of the 20th century but it wasn't until 1946 when Peder Eskesen, a Danish baker, perfected a way to effectively seal the oil which is contained in the "floating" section of the pen. Eskesen, the company which bears his name, quickly became the premiere floating pen manufacturer in the world, having sold over a half billion pens and, today, creating 50 new designs a week. While cheaper imitation floaty pens can be found which are made in China and other countries, the original Eskesen

pens made in Denmark are the best and are the standard the world over - they can be distingished from other floaty pens by their logo (above) which appears either on the clip of the pen or on the top of the floating section of the pen. The pens feature a unique "window" which contains several elements: a background, a foreground and a "floating" image which, when the pen is tilted, will "float" from side to side. I have been collecting floating pens since 1984 and have over 600 in my collection - pens from every continent (except Antarctica). For comprehensive (and fun) information about floating pens, visit the website of Diana Andra whose company, Float About, is the leading source for learning about this hobby. On her website, you can learn about floating pens, their history and the people who collect them, read her periodic newsletter "Float About" which tells about pens and collectors, purchase pens and pen displays, and much more. Diana is THE source for the novice or die-hard floating pen collector. And a lovely person as well.

Oh, yes. Floaty pens are actual pens, with black ink, and barrels which come in a variety of colors. They come in various styles and types, including the "classic floaty" and the newer "twist n' click" (also known as "twist n' float") pen. Made of high impact plastic, they last for years. Search on ebay for "float pen" or "floating pen" and you will see how valuable some of these pens have come to be.

What is the Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen like?

Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen #1
Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen #1 - "Twist n' Click" style

Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen #2
Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen #2- "Classic Floaty" style

Today that question is a little complicated as I had two Douglas Yeo floaty pens made.

The original pen, Pen #1 shown above, was made in an edition of 750; it was made with the "Twist n' Click" style. My second pen, Pen #2 shown above, which retains the original floating panel and background, was also in an edition of 750 pens and had a new back side panel was in the "Classic Floaty" style.

Having a pen of my own has been a long held dream. When I finally got serious about having one designed and produced, Diana Andra pointed me to Nancy Nerenberg whose company, Float Art Design, designs and works with the Eskesen Company in Denmark to produce an authentic floating pen. One look at Nancy's website told me I had found a first class artist who could implement a complex design I had in mind.

Nancy's website will provide the interested reader with comprehensive information about design and history of floating pens, available options for pens and a gallery of the pens she has designed. During every step of the process of making my pen, Nancy operated at the highest artistic level, kept me informed and made suggestions. And, like Diana Andra, she is a delightful person. If you ever want to design and manufacture a pen yourself, Nancy Nerenberg is the "go to" person.

Floaty pens are small, but can contain a huge amount of detail and information. I wanted my pen to represent my current life as a musician, and also be unique. I began with a simple concept - an image of me walking into Boston's Symphony Hall. However, I decided on not just one image, but two - showing me walking into the hall holding my bass trombone but walking OUT of the hall holding my serpent. This would represent a progress I've made in my career, moving from my life with the trombone to my current interest in historic brass instruments (serpent and ophicleide) which runs parallel to my life with the bass trombone.

Another of my hobbies is to collect postcards of Boston's Symphony Hall, so I looked through my collection (of over 25 cards) and selected a 1910 image of the hall which had sharp lines and good color.

On the left side of Symphony Hall a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven is seen, and in the background, several measures from the finale of his famous Ninth Symphony. The music shown is that of the first entrance of the chorus - which also happens to be played by the bass trombone. It is one of the most famous passages of music in the bass trombone literature.

On the right side of Symphony Hall you can see a bust of Hector Berlioz and in the background is a few measures from the finale of his Symphonie Fantastique; the music is a bit of the old chant from the Requiem Mass, the Dies irae, which Berlioz had played by the serpent in the original edition of his Symphonie. Thus, these musical items give a detailed picture of my pluralistic life with feet in both the historic and modern brass worlds.

Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen #1 ("Twist n' Click") - back panel

Douglas Yeo Floaty Pen #2 ("Classic Floaty") - back panel

On the back side of the pen is my "business card" - my name, instruments and my website address. Photographs of my bass trombone (a Yamaha YBL-622, which Yamaha and I designed together), my ophicleide (by Roehn of Paris, ca. 1855) and one of my serpents (by Baudoin of Paris, ca. 1810) completes the panel. The back panel of my first pen (Pen #1) reflected the font and design of my website at the time it was manufactured (2001). Since then, my website has been redesigned and the back panel of my second pen (Pen #2) contains elements from my current web design (2003).

You can find more about the various styles of floaty pens on Nancy Nerenberg's website.

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