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favorite this post Antique 13" 'Japanese' Ball Floats - $75 (Billings/Hardin) hide this posting unhide

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condition: good
size / dimensions: 13 inches diameter

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I have two (2) authentic Japanese fishing glass ball floats that were recovered off the coast of Alaska about 1970. These are the classic floats were tied to nets cast into the ocean to keep their nets from sinking beneath the waves and being lost. These are the real deal. These are two of the finest examples of old, traditional floats that I have ever seen.

The balls are wrapped in heavy rope to allow them to be attached to the net, and while these are old -- 45 plus years -- and they are large and of obviously excellent quality. They measure approximately 13 inches in diameter and have bubbles visible in the glass. Most authentic floats have many bubbles and impurities (specks of carbon, firebrick, etc) embedded inside the glass. They were typically made partly, or wholly, of recycled glass (waste glass, cullet) from old bottles, including used Japanese Sake wine bottles. They're heavier than they appear and when backlit with an LED light source the glass has a slightly greenish hue.

The majority of glass fishing floats that are adrift on the Pacific Ocean originated in Japan because it had a large deep sea fishing industry that made extensive use of these floats, starting as early as 1910. By the 1940s, glass had replaced wood or cork floats for much of the deep-sea and large-scale commercial fishing operations throughout much of Japan, Europe, Russia, and North America.

These look to be in good condition, but not new and not perfect. Considering that most real fishing floats -- including these -- are beach combed, they have been through quite an adventure: Used for fishing, lost at sea for weeks, months, or even decades, beached on sandy, gravel or even rocky beaches, sometimes re-floated to be beached somewhere else, and finally to be picked up by a lucky beachcomber. It's no wonder that most glass floats show obvious signs of wear: These do show signs of wear, although their condition is excellent due the quality and weight (over 1/2 in thickness) of the netting that covers them. If they appeared to be in new condition, it would considered evidence of fraud according to the 'float ball' experts.

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