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Collectible Antique Glass Fishing Floats And Glass Floats Decor
As weird as it may sound, there was a time were glass floats were used to keep fishing nets afloat. Glass floats were designed to be hollow and as they were full of air they were incredibly buoyant. Nowadays, these beautiful and somewhat delicate pieces have been replaced by disposable plastic floats. Cheaper to make, easier to handle.
But in recent years, glass fishing floats have been given a new lease of life by collectors who see the beauty and craftsmanship that went into making them, and interior designers who use them to decorate their homes.
A brief history of glass floats
Although glass fishing floats were manufactured around the world, most people accredit their invention to the Norwegians who were known to have produced small egg shaped glass fishing floats in 1840. However, it didn't take long for glass floats to catch on internationally and by the turn on the 20th century, glass fishing floats were being mass produced especially in Japan. With the rise of large scale commercial fishing, the need for floats was high.
Early glass floats were handmade by skilled glassblowers, many of whom used recycled glass. In fact, in Japan old sake bottles were frequently used by craftsmen to create glass floats. Typically glass floats made from sake bottles would be green as sake bottles were almost always green. However, the Japanese managed to manufacture a variety of different color fishing floats. Red floats being the most coveted, as gold was used to produce their unique color.
To create a glass float, the craftsmen would attach a piece of glass to the end of a blowpipe. They would then heat the glass to ensure it was pliable before carefully blowing through the end of the blowpipe to give the fishing float its distinctive round shape. Once a craftsman attained his desired shape he would carefully remove it and store it a cooling room.
Many glass floats bear a maker mark and some are extremely rare and collectible.
Glass Floats In The Making - Glass fishing floats were made the same way by skilled glass blowers
Collectible Glass Fishing Floats
The rise of the collectors
Although glass fishing floats are no longer used by fishermen, they are in high demand by collectors. One reason why collectors have fallen in love with glass fishing floats it that every float has a unique tale to tell.
As an example, some glass floats were branded with a mark of ownership when they were crafted, while others have been marked by natural etchings as a result of being through surf or sand. Collectors prefer to collect vintage glass fishing floats and some will even specialized their collection to floats produced by a single country. Japanese fishing floats are very popular.
Glass fishing floats are so popular that there are now companies which mass produce replicas. These are great for home decor, but a shame when they are labeled as vintage and antique trying to lure buyers into paying too much. Make sure you buy from a trusted source.
Fishing floats can reach high prices, especially for the more unique colors. Recently on ebay, a Cranberry Colored Glass Fishing Float sold for 525$. But a young collector can also get real vintage pieces for his collection under 50$. Or free if you are lucky at beach combing....
Shown here: fishing floats by JeffDSamuels71 / iStockphoto
2 Books To Get Your Started On These Glass Floats
Learn more about these mysterious balls from the sea
266 pages. this book is like the bible of Japanese glass floats. Lots of pictures and a comprehensive list of trademarks.
This is a price list. Obviously pricing glass fishing floats is subjective but it give a basis to work with as a seller or buyer.
Where To Find Antique Glass Fishing Floats
Buy rare glass floats
If you want to jump start your collection or add rare and unusual glass floats to it, online auctions are the place to check. You will have access to sellers and collectors all over the world. Just make sure you know your stuff and check your seller feedback. Beware of ''vintage style'', ''retro'' and seller mumble jumble trying to sell you a cheap China made modern reproduction. Be especially careful when dealing in the rare colors and makers.
Antique shops and collectors markets are also place you can find fishing floats.
Going to the beach is the most interesting thing to do but in most case you will end up with lots of sea glass and no glass floats.
Lot Of 3 Fishing Floats From Alaska
Amazon is filled with ''vintage inspired'' and modern reproduction of fishing floats, but from time to time you will find some real vintage ones. This seller has a few lots available.
3 small floats. These are authentic, not some reproductions
See A Collector's Glass Floats Treasures
''Japanese Glass Fishing Floats'' is a selling pitch used very often to describe modern mass produced decor pieces. Although very cute and colorful, they are NOT real vintage / antique Japanese floats.
Creative Ways To Display Your Glass Fishing Floats - Or buy cheaper mass produced modern glass floats for the same effect
When it comes to decorating with glass fishing floats you're only limited by your imagination as there are countless ways to creatively display these beautiful nautical treasures.
- Enchanted tree: Glass fishing floats come in a variety of colors, although green and blue floats are the most common. If you're lucky enough to have a tree in your yard, simply use thick rope to tie individual floats to different branches. The combination of colors you use is up to you.
- Floating floats: glass fishing floats can be used to draw attention to an existing pond or fountain. Simply place a few fishing floats in shallow water. The beauty of this idea is that the fishing floats will float around the pool or fountain on their own accord. If you enjoying hosting parties perhaps considering adding a few floating candles to your pond or fountain as they'll illuminate and bring out the colors of your glass floats.
However, you don't need to splash out on a new fountain to show off your glass fishing float collection as you can get the same effect by filling an old vintage bathtub or an extra large flower pot with water.
- Treasure chest: simply place a large wooden chest, box or basket in the corner of your lounge or in the foyer of your home. Leave the chest's lid open and fill it to the brim with some of your favorite glass fishing floats. This idea is bound to be a hit with both children and adults alike.
If you're having a little difficulty hunting down a treasure chest it may be worth rummaging through an antique store. Alternatively, you could make your own treasure chest using pieces of drift wood that wash up on your local beach.
- Bold centerpiece: if you love entertaining, perhaps consider using glass floats as a unique centerpiece for your dining table. Simply place a few glass floats on a large dish. For an eye catching centerpiece perhaps opt for a brass dish or tray. Alternatively, consider using a glass dish for a more contemporary look.
- Hanging from hooks: you can't go wrong with this fuss free idea. Simply attach a large hook to your wall or a fence and then hang a glass float from it. As an example evenly space out hooks down your hallway and then hang a different color glass float from each one. Alternatively consider hanging a glass fishing float from the side of a shed to give your backyard a rustic nautical look.
- Garden path: while you could line your garden path or your driveway with stones, it would be much more interesting to line your path with glass fishing floats. If you like you could even experiment with patterns e.g. one green float, followed by a blue one and so on.
I came across my first glass floats 2 years ago in Bretagne, France. At time I had no idea what it was. All I saw was some broken glass sitting among old discarded fishnet. Had it been intact, I would have picked it up. Then a few months ago I came across an ebay auction for some rather expensive Japanese glass floats while looking at vintage glass. And then I knew that the broken glass I saw was not just some old junk. I collect sea glass and sand and I am now adding a few fishing floats to my collection.