Glass fishing floats were used by Norwegian fisherman as early as the mid-19th century, but the Japanese popularized the form in the early 1900s. While the Norwegians are known for their egg-shape and rounded floats, the Japanese produced tubular floats known as sausages, as well as rollers, which are like sausages that have been crimped at each end. Types of Japanese floats include torpedo rollers, Tohoku rollers, and pumpkins, which are shaped like the famous fall gourds.

Sometimes floats are found and sold with netting still attached to them, but most floats are collected just as pieces of glass, which can be identified by their embossed markings. Common colors are clear and green. Blue floats are less common and red ones are rare.

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