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Help Information for the Pens List
PenFAQ Page 1 of 2

This is the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file for the listserv, a free internet mailing list operated by Tom Zoss ( for people interested in the hobby and business of fountain pen collecting.

This is a combined reference file and welcome for subscribers to the list. For future reference you may want to save a link to this file and the continuation of it.

This file is updated periodically, and a text message with links to important pages is e-mailed to all subscribers approximately once each month, usually around the first of each month if I remember.

What is the Target Audience?

My list is maintained for people interested in all aspects of fountain pens, especially collecting vintage ones, but we also have information for associated subjects like ballpoint pens, dip pens, mechanical pencils, and so forth. The list is free and growing in activity.

The list is for people who like to "tend to business" and just discuss writing instruments, often vintage ones - although modern products and limited editions are discussed as well. We also branch into associated topics such as ink, paper, accessories, locations of pen shows, conventions, etc. These threads do not go too long, however, because I like to keep pretty close to home.

The list's purpose is to help people enjoy the activity of collecting writing instruments. It's interesting that the experts in fountain pen collecting, several of whom are active on this list, are so open and cooperative with knowledge they have acquired over the years. When Bernadette and I attended our first pen show in Cincinnati after about 20 years of solitary collecting these people helped us change from accumulators into collectors. We say thank you... again.

What is a Listserv or Mailing List?

The idea of a "listserv" or internet mailing list is really fairly simple. The list is like a "party line" of messages more-or-less related to pens, pen collecting, pen shows, buy and sell requests, and so on.

Subscribers send one message to the list address and then the software sends copies to each subscriber of the list. You can just read them, reply to the whole list or, if the message is personal or the beginning of one-on-one negotiations to buy or sell, reply directly to the individual who originated the message.

Two Formats - What's the Difference?

The list gives you a choice when you subscribe - either "regular" distribution or "digest" distribution. Regular sends the messages go out one by one, mostly as received. The digest version collects the messages and sends them in a larger packet several times a day. For those who don't want a flood of up to 100 or more separate messages all day, the digest makes a lot of sense. It is strongly recommended that new subscribers try the digest version first.

Is Commercialism Allowed on the Pens list?

Yes. This is a free list and commercialism is allowed although huge lists of wanted or items for sale should be edited to save space and bandwidth.

How can this be a free list but still allow commercialism?

The answer is a request... I request those individuals and companies that make money or benefit in other ways by using the list consider an occasional donation or sample to the moderator to help offset the investment of time and money to operate the list. See this page for ways to help out the list.

Who is Tom Zoss?

Tom Zoss, the list operator, has an eclectic background, ranging from opera producer, to magician, to newspaper publisher, to corporate executive, to college professor, to fund raiser.

More details can be found elsewhere on this web site. End of commercial.

Are There Guidelines for Messages (on-topic and off-topic)?

Sure. In addition to these general guidelines, please read the four simple rules that follow. Please be very careful about your messages so a lot of off-topic material does not go to the address.

Remember that messages addressed to the list go to everyone. Messages about your subscription or problems should go only to the moderator (

While we like to stay generally on topic, we are all interested in the people who are part of this fascinating and diverse community. A self-introductory message is always welcome. Occasional personal notes (such as those from people who have had health problems, or want to share the joy of a new child, etc.) are welcome, but messages about politics, world events, eBay or PayPal problems, or MAC versus PC diatribes, are best posted somewhere else or sent privately.

There is nothing exotic or high tech about the list itself. It is housed on my internet service provider's system.

The Four Simple Rules





For the full details of the rules please click here.

More Details About Messages

Opinions expressed in the list messages are those of the writers and not those of the list publisher. I do not control what people say and defend their right to say what they think. I believe in this country you generally have a right to your opinions, even if I think you're wrong.

I do, however, ask for civility.

IMPORTANT: Do not use the list as a way of criticizing an individual or company in public. Neither should the list be used to collect money, blacklist, or "SPREAD THE WORD" about your problems or disputes with a dealer, a brand, or another individual.

Be nice - my list should never be considered an enforcement tool or medium.

If you want to respond to a sale/buy message distributed on the list, please write DIRECTLY to the person who posted the message at their personal e-mail address. The "Reply" button may not produce the correct e-mail address, so be careful. Remember, if you buy or sell using the list please consider an occasional donation to help support the list.

Ready to learn how to subscribe, use other commands, etc.? Follow the link below.


Thomas Zoss
3431 S. Weeping Willow Way, Bloomington, Indiana 47403 USA
Telephone 812-332-2334, E-mail to Tom Zoss


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