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Totally Random Pen Stuff

• What to do if you’re a WWI spy and need to write a secret spy message?

Forego your fountain pen and whip out your handkerchief to collect the secret invisible ink ingredients hidden within, according to recently released U.S. intelligence documents.

The Telegraph reports that the papers date back to 1914.

One suggests that secret messages should be passed by soaking a handkerchief or collar in a mixture of nitrate, soda and starch and then drying the fabric.

The chemicals would come out when the cloth was put in water and that liquid would becomes invisible ink for message writing. The person receiving the message could then read the words by applying iodate of potassium.

Another from 1918, written in French, purports to reveal the invisible ink formula used by the Germans, according to the Telegraph.

Imagine how easy it would have been to misplace a communique written in ink no one could see.

• As an entry for a design contest, four Korean engineers have created a brilliant idea for an ink pen cartridge.

By designing the cartridge in a spiral, they’ve almost doubled the amount of ink that fits into the barrel without having to widen the pen. Plus, it just looks really cool. That spiral begs for a clear barrel of some sort.

Unfortunately, the T&T Pen-Ink Chamber is just a prototype for the iF International design competition, so it’s not available on the market. But surely some pen company is going to see this and snap up the rights – we hope.

• Speaking of engineers, the guys at Geeky Gadgets have stumbled across a pen that is just perfect for the fix-it crowd.

The Metal Pen with Level and Screwdriver from Neatoshop is exactly what the rather unimaginative name implies: a brass pen with a level in the barrel and a small screwdriver head (flathead on one end, Phillips on the other) under the cap. The barrel also is engraved with both standard and metric rulers.

Geeky Gadgets says:

You had better get more than one though; I can see this being stolen.

At US$14.95, that’s doable.

• This has to be one of the most brazen – and hilarious – pen thefts ever.

In case you missed it, the “theft” happened at a news conference during which Czech president Vaclav Klaus and Chile’s Sebastian Pinera sign some agreement or other between their two countries. The LA Times describes it like this:

While Pinera goes on in Spanish about their bilateral friendship, Klaus takes the ceremonial pen from the box.

He admires it. Turns it over. Slips it into his hand. Drops his hands beneath the table. Switches the pen to his left hand and drops the pen into his pocket. Before putting both hands back on the table as blithely and innocently as you please. Then, he resumes intently listening to the translation through his earpiece.

Who could possibly notice this gambit except perhaps a couple of hundred people and dozens of rolling cameras staring at the diplomatic duo on the platform?

Naturally, multiple copies of the video ended up on YouTube, where they’ve drawn more than 1 million views combined.

It doesn’t appear that Klaus ever returned the pen.

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