How to Identify Antique Glass Fishing Net Float Makers

How to Identify Antique Glass Fishing Net Float Makers
For beachcombers and anglers, finding an old, glass fishing net holder, or fishing ball is a treasure to behold. These old net holders once adorned the edges of fishing nets on the briny seas. Today, these glass balls are used for everything from decorations and modified candleholders to goods for trading and collecting.

Knowing how to identify these glass balls, and distinguish which are antique is a bit of a challenge, and one that requires cross referencing information sources, as many of the holders are Chinese reproductions and not authentic Japanese antique glass net holders.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Antique fishing tackle, gear and equipment manuals and guides
  • Digital camera
  • Notepad
Step 1
Examine the shape of the net holder and ball. Take pains to look at if it is oval, round or how large the flat end of the net holder is if it is a round ball. Check the ends for narrow necks going into nubs on the holder's end if oval in shape. Take pictures with a digital camera, and write down the photo number and what you think it to be in your notepad.
Step 2
Turn the holder over until you can see any writing or Asian characters. If there are no Asian characters, look to see if the wording resembles a Scandinavian language, as there are many Norwegian balls on the market. Photograph any writing or characters you find.
Step 3
Examine the color of the glass and look for any bubbles or misshaped qualities to the glass. Many of the old Japanese Giant Tohoku net holders were a blue color, with a few made in ambers and greens. Because these were hand blown and handmade there should be imperfections in the glass color and bubbles in the glass.
Step 4
Look for odd shapes and crests on the balls and net holders. Artisans marked their particular net holders and balls much the way ranchers brand cattle. Look for stars, chevrons, bars and characters. Photograph any markings you find, again noting the photo number and content in your notepad.
Step 5
Download your photos and get out your notes. Use these to cross reference in a fishing gear guide. Look for regions of make on the fishing net balls. The glass net holder makers from Hokkaido used a different marking on net holders than those from Okinawa.

Use your photos and notes to find the origin of the net holders you wish to identify. Check the years these net holders were made to determine antique status. As a rule, any net holder over 40 years old is considered antique.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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