Pen collecting . . . It's not a job, it's beyond an adventure, it's an obsession.

Might you be a Pen Geek? Take a few minutes out and answer these questions (if you prefer, you can print this page out and check them off with your Duofold). The results will be kept strictly confidential (meaning that I haven't gotten that good with CGI programming yet). There's no scoring, I think the results will be self-evident. Remember, there's no shame in admitting to weakness, there's only Karmic punishment for the hubris of denial.

If you have any more symptoms to add to the list, be sure and send them to me at ..


  • You are in the bank depositing a bunch of checks from Indonesian gardeners, and you find yourself inexplicably without a pen. There is a little ballpoint pen on a steel chain at a table inside the bank. You would:
    1. Leave and return the next day;
    2. Run to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy a Montblanc;
    3. Use the ball pen, but sign someone else's name on the checks;
    4. Not know what the ballpoint pen is.
  • Have you ever been in an argument over the actual derivation of the trade name "Duofold"?
  • When watching old movies on video, do you find yourself freeze-framing to try to get a closer look at the pen Humphrey Bogart is using? Do you in fact know what pen Humphrey Bogart was using? Would you be willing to tell me?
  • Do you own any of the following items:
    1. A pocket protector (and you're not an engineer)?
    2. A glass eyedropper?
    3. More than one bottle of household ammonia?
    4. Blotter paper
  • Do you keep a bottle of ink in your carry-on luggage? More than one bottle in different colors?
  • Do you find yourself sniffing at the end of pens (to tell whether or not they are made of hard rubber)?
  • Are your pens cleaner than your kitchen?
  • Can you identify the pens shown on the boxes of various word processing software packages? Do you feel resentful when you don't find any of those pens inside the boxes?
  • Do you use a Waterman BHR to solve crossword puzzles? (Any hints on how to stop the ink bleeding through the cheap newsprint?)


  • You are changing sheets in your teenager's bedroom when you discover a PaperMate stick pen under the pillow. You would:
    1. put it back, mortified, hoping you could forget having seen it.
    2. throw it out and replace it with a Parker Frontier (anyone believe in the Pen Fairy?)
    3. confront the child with the pen and express your displeasure, possibly imposing restrictions and strongly recommending professional counseling.
  • When you're visiting Grandma, and you're sure she's busy in the kitchen baking you a cake, would you ransack that overstuffed garderobe to see if you can maybe find a Gold Seal Doric, or else a Montblanc PL brought home as war booty?
  • When the CEO of your company sends you a personal note thanking you for your valuable contribution to the company's success, do you check the signature line first thing to see what he signed it with?
  • Do you resent having to fill out expense report forms at the office because they're printed on NCR paper?
  • Do you disdain stealing reams of paper from the office because the tooth is too high and the rag content too low?
  • When getting ready to go to a wedding, do you spend more time picking out which pen to carry to sign the book with than you do what clothes you are going to wear? Even if you are the bride?

Continuing to research this largely unexplored field, Sandy Andina has uncovered the following symptoms:

  1. Do you buy purses/handbags/backpacks primarily on the basis of number and width of pen slots?
  2. Do you photocopy crossword puzzles onto bond paper so you CAN use that Waterman 52 or flex-nib Vac?
  3. Do you keep little bottles of Amodex in your purse or pocket AND your office?
  4. Do your clothes bear twice as many ink stains as food stains?
  5. Do you keep a manifold-nib pen on your person just to avoid signing charge-card slips with the proffered ballpoint? [This turns out happily not to be a problem for me, since I spend so much on pens that no one will give me a charge card -- /rick/]
  6. When finished in court, do you stand there and talk pens with the judge &/or co-counsel even though your meter is ticking at $125/hr? [let's see, about three hours of that and you could get that nice oversize Doric -- /rick/]
  7. When flying, do you sit during takeoff clutching your fountain pen upright in your hand just like Bob Dole and his Flair?
  8. Do you spend more time in foreign cities hunting down pen shops and flea markets than you do choosing restaurants, or contacting old friends?
  9. Do you take every opportunity possible to convert ballpoint and disposableRB users to "our faith?" [Maybe we could put together some of those Chik comics like the ones the street missionaries are always handing out -- /rick/]
  10. (Ladies) When dressing for a formal evening out, do you choose an evening bag that will let you carry that lil' Vac Demi or Lady Patricia vertically?
  11. If not, and you are forced to pack a good ballpoint (oxymoron) or rollerball, do you apologize every chance you get?
  12. Have you weathered at least one ink-related disaster at such a formal affair (wedding, etc.) or in open court?
  13. Do you choose fountain pens as gifts for everyone you know?

Kevin Cabral further explores the fountain-pen/computer nexus with these questions:

  1. Do you feel a longing to write on your computer screen when composing messages? [I bought a Newton, but gave it up because it was too much trouble to wipe ink off the screen all the time -- /rick/]
  2. Do you wish you could scan a real signature to attach to USENET posts? [What, end up in alt.flame.gigantic.sigs or alt.stupid.signatures? No thanks! -- /rick/]
  3. Do you wonder how to switch between "fine point" and "medium point" fonts in your word processing package? [no, but I do have an ink shut-off feature for when I am not typing -- /rick/]
  4. Do you wonder why your copy of Illustrator doesn't include Penman Sapphire or Pelikan 1897 Brilliant Black in the color palette)? [actually, now that I've got my own scanner, I could put together a special CLUT just for common fountain pen inks.../rick/]