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Glass Fishing Floats

Updated on January 16, 2011

Glass Float

Glass floats, glass fishing floats, glass buoys or Japanese fishing floats as they are sometimes called, are beautiful works of art created partly by man and partly by mother nature. They are usually spherical balls of glass varying widely in color and size and were used for fishing. The floats were attached to fishing nets and used to keep them afloat at sea. During the years that they were used, unknown numbers of these glass balls were lost at sea. Huge numbers of glass floats still exist in the worlds oceans, sometime's washing up onshore for the would be beachcomber to find. Their intrinsic beauty and history make them highly desirable collectors items, and symbols of a past maritime age.

Glass Float History

Glass floats can be found throughout the worlds oceans, although they are most prevalent in the Pacific. They were first invented in Norway in the late 1800s and their use spread rapidly throughout the world, replacing the standard wood and cork floats used before.

By the early 1900's many countries were using them in their fishing industry. Japan was one of the largest users of fishing floats due to it's extensive fishing industry, this being one of the reasons many people refer to glass floats as "Japanese fishing floats."

After World War 2 glass floats fell out of use as other cheaper and more durable materials were developed. However, thanks to the currents in the pacific there are still so many glass floats waiting to be discovered. 

Glass Float Varieties

There are a large variety of glass floats out there. Most are blue or green in color and sphere shaped. However they can also be oblong in shape as well. Much more rare colors such as red or orange are highly valuable because the production process to make them required the use of more expensive materials such as gold. The most common kind of glass used in Japanese glass floats comes from recycled sake bottles which were usually green colored. Often the colors of glass floats changes overtime by prolonged exposure to salt water, sunlight, and rubbing of other debris or nets against the glass.

Sizes of floats can very too. Some are small and palm sized, while others can be as large as a basketball.

Where to Find Glass Floats

At the beach of course! Fishing floats continouusly wash in on ocean currents and end up on beaches, usually amongst other debris and flotsam. If you are looking to find your own authentic glass floats without paying this is the only way to go! The best time to go in search of glass fishing floats is usually after storms as more debris will be washed ashore. There are still many floats out there stuck in ocean currents and possibly even stuck in icebergs in colder regions. Especially in the pacific where the current's create a massive dead zone in the center, huge amounts of garbage has been collecting for years. Inside this zone there are probably man thousands of floats still bobbing around, waiting to be knocked off into surrounding currents and deposited on a beach near you.

The pacific has the best beaches where float glass can be found, due to the fact that the Japanese fishing industry was the largest user of glass fishing floats, hence the term "Japanese glass fishing floats," that is sometimes used to describe them.

If you want to get some right away, most beach communities have gift shops that sell them. However, be careful because not all glass floats are equal. Some may be worth more than others, depending on the color and rarity and some may be replicas and not the real deal. Truly great glass floats will show signs of being at sea and have beautiful vivid colors as well as corrosion and sometimes even sea water inside (which enters over time through small imperfections in the glass).

On the other hand if you are just into glass floats as a decoration, there are many beautiful replica's available. They make great decorations for nautical themed rooms and beach houses.

Happy Hunting!

If you are interested in learning more about glass fishing floats check out some of these sites dedicated to glass floats. They provide even more in depth detail and information about glass floats.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you get lucky and find yourself a beautiful glass float on your next trip to the beach!


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    • mabmiles profile image

      mabmiles 6 years ago

      Nice work. Very interesting.

    • profile image

      Roger 6 years ago

      Hello and thank you for sharing.

      I am also interested in these gems of the sea, and have in my collection glass floats of different colours and shapes from Europe, America and Asia.

      Best Regards.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 7 years ago from Guwahati, India

      It is great art and great work.