A.T. Cross Company has been manufacturing high-quality pens and pencils for nearly 200 years. With such a long history of products, it’s not uncommon to find Cross pens dating back several decades. However, if you’re not an expert in the field, it’s not always easy to figure out which model pen you’re using.
By paying close attention to some signature features, you can usually figure out the model and date for a Cross pen within a margin of error of a few years. Following forums and sales sites can also help you identify the exact name of your pen. Otherwise, you can take your pen to a specialist shop and have them identify the type of Cross pen you have.
In this guide, we’ll quickly explain some of the ways you can tell which Cross pen you have. To help you get an idea of your pen’s value, we’ll also guide you through the process of dating a Cross pen. With this information, you’ll have a greater appreciation for your writing utensil and can get a reasonable price for it if you ever wish to sell it.
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Why Are There So Many Types of Cross Pens?
A.T. Cross Company has been around for a long time and in their many years, they’ve released dozens of different pens, many of which are now considered classics and collector’s items. Cross has developed and innovated a wide variety of styles and models, including ballpoint, fountain, rollerball, and multi-function pens. However, not all Cross pens are as valuable or as sought after as others.
Even if you don’t have a rare or antique Cross pen, knowing the model can help you understand how the pen was designed and what type of nib it uses. This information can be useful if you need to replace a part or are simply curious about the history of your pen.
Yet, with 173 years of history, you’ll need a specialized eye for detail to figure out the exact model you have.
How to Identify the Type of Cross Pen
To date, A.T. Cross Company produces four different classes of pens. Within each class, they make dozens of different models. Therefore, the first step to identifying the exact pen you have is to first figure out which type of pen you’re using. Here are the four classes of pens and what sets them apart:
- Fountain Pens – Cross fountain pens are the oldest type of pen still in production by the company. Prior to their 1930 release, Cross only made one type of pen—a stylographic pen—which is no longer in production. Fountain pens are easy to identify thanks to their signature nib and refillable ink reservoirs.
- Ballpoint Pens – Cross ballpoint pens are the most popular type of pen made by the company. They were first introduced in 1954 and have been in production ever since. Ballpoint pens use a small metal ball to disperse ink onto the paper as you write. Cross ballpoint pens are usually made with a twist-action mechanism, which is how you extend and retract the ballpoint.
- Rollerball Pens – Rollerball pens are similar to ballpoint pens but use a water-based ink that flows more freely. This ink is also less likely to dry out than the ink used in ballpoint pens. Rollerball pens were first introduced in 1976 and have been in production ever since. Cross rollerball pens are usually made with a click-action mechanism, which is how you extend and retract the pen tip.
- Multi-function Pens – Multi-function pens are pens that can be used as either a ballpoint pen or a mechanical pencil. These pens were first introduced in 1983 and are still in production today. Multi-function pens are easy to identify thanks to their dual-purpose design.
Now that you have a better idea of the four classes of pens made by A.T. Cross Company, you’ll be better able to rule out a few options. From here, you can start looking through specific catalogs for each classification to identify your pen’s exact make and model.
How to Identify the Model of Cross Pen
The process of identifying the exact model of pen you’re using isn’t going to be easy. You’ll have to search through catalogs and databases to find information based on your pen’s features. Searching through forums and speaking Cross pen experts can help simplify this process but you’ll have to know which features to advertise:
- Materials – Cross has been producing pens for over 170 years and they’ve used a wide variety of materials in that time. Your pen may be constructed from plastic, metal, wood, or even gold. By identifying the materials used to make your pen, you’ll be able to narrow its model to a specific body material.
- Trim – After identifying the material used to make the pen, pay attention to the trim. The trim is the metal band that wraps around the pen near the grip. Cross has similarly used a variety of materials for its trims, including silver, stainless steel, and gold.
- Nibs – If you have a Cross fountain pen, check to see which material the nib is made from. It will likely be either stainless steel or gold but there is a chance that your nib could be constructed from silver. This would greatly help to narrow the possible options.
Once you’ve gathered all of this information, you can start to narrow down the possibilities. For example, if you have a pen made from plastic with gold trim and a gold nib, you probably have a Cross Classic Century pen. If you have a pen made from metal with silver trim and a stainless-steel nib, you probably have a Cross Townsend pen.
If you’re still having trouble identifying the model of your pen, you can try taking a look at some online forums or sales sites. Here, you can find people who are experts in Cross pens and can help you identify the model of your pen based on photos and other key characteristics.
How to Date a Cross Pen
After figuring out the exact make and model of your Cross pen, you’ll then want to date it. Since some of these pens have been in production for several decades, your favorite Cross pen could date back to the mid-1970s or even earlier. This would greatly increase its value and add a sense of sentimentality to your writing utensil.
Fortunately, it’s not as hard to date a Cross pen as it is to figure out the exact model. Start by using a magnifying glass to inspect the area around and above the clip. There may be some information engraved into the barrel that will tell you where to pen was made. Over the years, Cross has moved internationally and the location will correspond with the dates of manufacturing.
Originally, Cross pens were only manufactured in the United States. If your pen has an engraved U.S.A logo above or around the clip, you may have an antique pen that’s worth quite a lot of money. However, if you’re using a fountain pen, the earliest model was first manufactured in London. Therefore, a U.S.A stamped fountain pen will be pretty new.
By the 1970s Cross had moved its manufacturing location from London to Ireland and you can easily date pens made in the ‘70s through ‘90s based on this engraving. However, since then, it’s gotten a little harder to date these writing utensils. Today, nearly all Cross pens are produced in China and give little indication of their age within a 20-year period.
This is also not helped by the sheer quality of Cross’s craftmanship. Since many of their pens are made from high-quality materials, they tend to age quite well and don’t show signs of their true history. In this case, your best bet at figuring out the age of your pen is to trace it through your friends, family, or the person who you got it from.
What to Do If Your Pen is No Longer in Production
If you’re trying to identify your pen to have it fixed, you may be disappointed to learn that your pen is no longer in production. In this case, you will not be able to use it again, however, Cross does offer a perpetual lifetime warranty on all of their writing utensils.
If your pen is no longer in production, they will not be able to fix it but they do promise to replace your pen with a product of equal value and utility. Therefore, you might not get your original pen back but Cross will at least send something similar.
The Bottom Line
A.T. Cross Company has produced a wide variety of pens over the past 173 years. While this makes for a great selection of writing utensils, it also makes it pretty hard to identify which pen you’re using. By using the methods outlined here, you can get a greater appreciation for your pen and may even be able to sell it for a higher price.
*Featured Image: By https://www.cross.com/, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62411879