Miscellaneous (fun & fascinating) Information
History of Float Pens
Over 67 Years of Float Pen History
Floating pens are called "floating pens" because, of course, something floats inside the barrel. Most of the pens shown in this website are typical Danish-made Eskesen pens. Eskesen floating pens create a miniature scene inside the confines of a 16x80 millimeter translucent tube, and inside the tube, some object (a plane, a car, etc.) always floats by. The liquid inside the pen is not water but rather mineral oil, which allows the floating objects to float smoothly and slowly across the scene.
Eskesen was not the first company to attempt floating pens. Other styles had been created over the years. But inventors had been plagued by the problem of leaking mineral oil. In 1946, Peder Eskesen, a Danish baker, developed a method of effectively sealing the oil-filled tubes, launching him quickly in front of his competitors. Eskesen has continued on to become the leader in float pen technology, and the company's sealing process is still a carefully-guarded secret.
Early Eskesen pens often held 3-dimensional floating objects, such as the mermaid pen (below). There were many mechanical pencils made, and many of the parts were metal. In the 1960's, however, it became difficult to find workers willing to hand paint the 3-D floating objects, and the metal parts became too expensive to be profitable.
Eskesen's first pen order was for Esso (now Exxon) and contained a bobbing oil drum. Soon the company was marketing the pens worldwide. Eskesen has produced pens for political leaders, such as the Shah of Iran with family portraits inside, Charles de Gaulle, and Mayor Daley of Chicago. They made thousands of Yellow Submarine pens at the height of Beatlemania. They have made pens for major film companies including Disney; major international corporations such as Coca-Cola, Advil, Wells Fargo Bank; and for almost every tourist destination in the world. As the pens continue to rise in popularity, even individuals have begun to commission pens for personal use: weddings, birthdays, and fund-raisers.
The Eskesen factory is located in Store Merlose, a small village dating back to medieval times, with about 1,200 inhabitants. Store Merlose is on Zealand, less than an hour's drive from Copenhagen. The company currently employs approximately 50 people in-house. Much of the artwork which earlier was done by hand is now produced using computers and digital processes. Elaborate machines cut and shunt the background, foreground, and floating objects into the empty, clear tubes. The tubes are filled with oil and sealed. And finally, families from Store Merlose come by daily to pick up the pen parts and hand-fasten them at home. Eskesen is the largest employer in the town, supporting a large cottage industry.Four early Eskesen floaties (Click on pens for larger images and more info)