Tips for finding floats on storm-tossed beaches or other alternate sources.

By Matt Villano
November 22, 2004
Jean Allsopp

Pacific Coast residents from southern Oregon to northern BritishColumbia can find glass floats at the shore. Two prime U.S. spots:Long Beach, Washington, and Astoria, Oregon. In Canada, head toUcluelet and Tofino, British Columbia.

Floats usually arrive with winter storms, particularly thosedriven by strong southerly or southwesterly winds. Balls thataren't rolling in the surf usually hide in batches of driftwood orsea grass. The floats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, andcolors range from clear to reds, purples, blues, greens, and more.Sometimes logos in the glass hint at heritage. Occasionally, waterseeps inside.

Collectors Dick Carter and Barry Campbell say the best time tofind glass floats is during a storm, so wear rain gear andwaterproof boots. Particularly in the Pacific Northwest, watch forsurging waves; violent surf can throw huge logs and pieces ofdriftwood against the shore―no float, no matter howspectacular, is worth injury.

If you won't find yourself on storm-tossed beaches any timesoon, check out these alternate sources.

• To order authentic vintage floats, call Hawaii'sDiscovery Antiques. Proprietor Peter Underwood regularly carries alarge supply of floats that land on the shores of The Big Island.Or visit the bright red, barn-like shop, eight miles south ofKailua-Kona, along the Mamalahoa Highway; 808/323-2239.

• To buy artistic modern-day samples, contact PyromaniaGlass Studio. Each float is $45 plus shipping; 888/743-4116 or

• With a second edition due out this spring, Glass Fishing Floats of the World (West Wind Books, 2001) byStu Farnsworth and Alan D. Rammer helps collectors identifyfishing-float markings that offer clues to their origins. A priceguide gives a good look at the range ($15 to several hundreddollars);

• Read Beachcombing for Japanese Glass Floats by Amos Wood (Binford& Mort, 2001).