“What is it?” Wednesday #27- the answer

This week’s puzzle was a perfect item for summer’s farewell. Although Noelle and I did not have the opportunity to visit the beach, we both think it would be so cool to find one of these being tossed onto the sandy shore from a faraway place. Noelle was intrigued by the history of these floats, and has collected some information about them to share with you.

Glass fishing floats are believed to have been first manufactured in Norway around 1840. (There may, however, have been other versions glass floats used before then; in the early 19th century, the Schimmelmanns Glassverk (1779–1832) produced dark brown and very thick, bottle glass floats. Floats from this production are found in the ground where this factory was located, but are unmarked.) The invention is credited to Christopher Faye, and was developed through cooperation with one of the owners of the Hadeland Glassverk in Norway. The earliest evidence of glass floats used by fishermen comes from Norway in 1844 where small, egg-sized floats were used with fishing line and hooks. Around the same time, glass was also used to support fishing nets. By the 1940s, glass had replaced wood or cork throughout much of Europe, Russia, North American, and Japan. Today, most of the remaining glass floats originated in Japan because it had a large deep sea fishing industry which made extensive use of the floats. Glass floats have since been replaced by aluminum, plastic, and Styrofoam.

Most floats are shades of green (recycled sake bottles were often used), but clear, amber, aquamarine, amethyst, blue, and other colors were also produced. The most prized and rare color is a red or cranberry hue; these were expensive to make because gold was used to produce the color. Other brilliant tones such as emerald green, cobalt blue, purple, yellow, and orange were primarily made in the 1920s and 30s. The majority of the colored floats available for sale today are replicas, though you can purchase antique ones online, or, if you are very lucky, find one washed up along the shore, world-weary and etched by sand, wind, and water. If the netting is still attached, then you have quite a rare find.

Really, Noelle? I have a rare find? (She determined that mine have sand etching on them.) I found them in a local antiques shop and knew they would be useful for photography in our summer issue. (You may have seen them already in a previous issue!) Congrats to our friend Jo, who was the ONLY one that knew what this week’s puzzle was. To read the guesses, click here, and scroll down. I guess that means we better go easy on you friends next Wednesday… see you then! -Beverly


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