Many glass floats are marked with an identifying trademark. This typically indicates the manufacturer of the float or the fishing company for which the float was made for. Trademarks are typically composed of one or more alphabetic symbols or numbers. Sometimes a whole sentance or a picture is used. As most floats are Japanese, most of the trademarks are also Japanese. However, nearly all countries that manufactured glass floats had their own types of trademarks.
The trademarks were difficult to photograph, so next to each trademark, I've also drawn what they looked like. For some trademarks, there are several variations. I'll include drawings or descriptions for many of the variations I've seen.
I've learned to identify glass float markings primarily from the definitions found in Amos Wood's book "Beachcombing For Japanese Glass Floats". Also many thanks from Charles and Kayo Woodward of Misawa Japan for helping me identify some of the other markings.
A few of these symbols are possibly displayed upside down. Unless otherwise stated, all of these markings are on small round floats from 2.25" to 5" in diameter.
#1: This is the symbol for "dai" which means big.
#2: These symbols are from the Daiichi Glass K.K. Many variations of this marking exist including different lettering styles. Often the float is stamped several times in approximately the same location in an almost random manner.
#3: Yes, it's the Soviet star found on Russian floats. Before the breakup, of course!
#4: This is the symbol for the word "Kawaguchi" which means "rivermouth". These floats are manufactured by the Kawaguchi Glass K.K. There are many variations of this symbol. Sometimes is appears in singles, in threes as shown here, and sometimes each symbol is surrounded by a box.
#5: This is the famous "double FF" float. This symbol is the word "kita" which means "North". It was used by the Hokuyo Glass Company of Aomori Japan. Supposably, this company stopped making floats in the late 70's although they are still found. This symbol appears on floats of all sizes, on larger floats it appears on a seperate sealing button.
#6: This is the Kanji symbol for "Wa"
#7: This is Kanji for "Shi". This is a dark green 2.5" diameter float
#8: This symbol is "Asahi" and originates from Hokaido. This symbol is found as a single mark, or in twos, one above the other, but rotate 180 degrees, and in threes in a circle as in this float. In this example, the third mark on the lower left is only partially visible.
#9: Yes, it's the famous "Made In Japan" float. Any new beachcomber who finds one of these will have a clue as to what they found! Usually the lettering isn't legible as only part of it falls onto the button seal. I have several of these, and this is the clearest example, yet even this one hard to read.
#10: The number 10
#11: Kanji For 10
#12: Another of the three piece mold trademarks.
The 3.5" diameter three piece molded floats come in the following marks:
I, II, III, IIII, 10, + (Kanji for 10), or no mark
#13: This symbol is Kanji for "Ichi" or "Number One", "The Best!"
#14: The above two markings are probably the house flag and symbol for the Nichiro Gyogyo Kabushiki Kaisha which is the "The Nachiro Fishing Co." They were manufactured by the Hakodate Glass K.K. The top symbol is "Ichi" and the bottom symbol is "Sa" which means "unknown".
#15: Script numeral 1.
#16: Script numeral 2.
#17: Backards typograhpic 2.
Small floats with the Script numerals 1, 2, 3, or 4 are not uncommon.
#18: In Amos woods book, he lists this symbol, but the topmost halfcircle is open at the top. On my float, I can't tell if it is open or closed. This symbol was first found in 1946.
#19: This symbol is found on the top of some 3" diameter 2-piece moulded floats. The symbol is on the top of the float, not on the sealing button. Other digits are also found and the number is sometimes a hand formed character or in a typographic font.
#20: The top symbol stands for "shi" and the bottom is "sa" which means "unknown". This was possibly manufactured by the Sasa Glass Company.
#21: Unknown Symbol
#22: This stands for "Dai ichi" or "Number 1"
#23: The symbol on this small 2.5" diameter float stands for "E"
#24: An "N" with a hat! In Amos Woods book, he lists some variations to this marking, but not one exactly like this. This was a 2.5" diameter float.
#25: Korean markings identify this as a Korean glass float. I Have several of these very pretty 3.5" diameter dark green floats.
#26: This strange and hard to make out marking was on a green 4" diameter float. It apparently stands for "Maru Toku" which means "Special". The markings on the bottom were fairly clear, but the ones at the top were very hard to make out and it's possible that it was stamped twice the second time offset from the first to create the top marking patterns.