A.T. Cross has the distinction of being the first and longest-operating American writing-utensil manufacturer. The company says it has been in business “Since 1846,” but that’s a slight exaggeration since that was the year Alonzo Townsend Cross, the man for whom the company is named, was born. His father, Richard Cross, actually founded the company around 1847, though it was not until 1857 that Cross moved to Rhode Island, where the company continues to produce pens today.

The first Cross goods were pencil cases and pens made of gold and silver, as well as other non-writing goods such as cigar holders. By the early 1870s, once Alonzo was fully part of the company, Cross took off.

Alonzo Cross was credited with 25 patents in his life, including nine for stylographic pens and six for pencils. For example, Cross invented the propel-repel mechanical pencil, which is the forerunner of today’s mechanical pencils.

His most important invention, however, was the stylographic pen (similar to an ink pencil), which changed the face of fountain pens forever. This pen, which is highly collectible today, was the first fountain pen strong enough to produce carbon copies along with an original print. The pens had a hollow nib with a wire for a valve, which enabled it to make its impression. The U.S. Post Office was so impressed with the invention that it mandated its use by postal workers.

A.T. Cross, which was sold in 1916 to the Boss family, began making standard fountain pens in the early 1930s. In that decade, A.T. Cross produced a beautiful Art Deco pen made of gold and chrome, with black-enamel adornments. The pen was supposed to play second fiddle to a co-released pencil, but instead it was the star of the set. This classic pen was manufactured through 1940 and reintroduced in 1982.

In the decades between, Cross put aside its fountain-pen line to become a leader in rollerball, soft-tip, and ballpoint pens. In particular, its ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils were highly acclaimed. Since 1946, neither design has changed. Collectors today look for the size of the black ring at the top of the pen—pens with smaller rings are generally considered more valuable.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Ernesto Soler's extensive homage to one of the most popular pens ever produced, the Parker "51," introduced in 1941… [read review or visit site]



Jim Mamoulides' vintage and modern pen-cyclopedia. Start at the main gallery, featuring detailed articles (with pho… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Cross Townsend Fountain Pen, In Black With Box30+ Vintage Fountain & Ballpoint Pens + Pencils. Garland, Eversharp, CrossCross 14 Kt Gold Filled Pen & Pencil Set **brand New**Cross Townsend - Midnight Blue Lacquer Pen. Bush Presidential With Seal. 595 SpCross Century Classic Rolled Rose-gold, 14k Gold Nib: B Fountain Pen Never InkedVatican Museum Cross Limited Edition Pen - New - Made In AmericaVintage Cross 12k Gold Filled Usa 1/20 12kt Gold Cross Rollerball ? Felt Tip PenRare" All Cross-hatch Pilot Namiki Fountain Pen 18k-750 Black Silver Fp Vintage Cross Jewelers 23 Kt Gold Streamers Pen **new In Box**Mixed Lot Of 16 Cross Pen & Pencil Lot 8 Gold FilledVtg Cross Century Ii 1/20 12 Kt Gold Filled Rollerball Selectip (soft Tip) PenCross Pen & Pencil Set, 14k Gold Filled13 Piece Lot Used Cross Gold Filled Ball Point Pens And Mechanical Pencils LargeVintage Cross Lset Pen And Pencil Set 14 Kt Gf Unused In Box17 Piece Lot Used Cross Chrome Ball Point Pens And Mechanical Pencils LargeVintage Cross 1/20 14k Gf Gold Filled Pen & Mechanical Pencil Box Set ~ Nice!Vintage Lot Of Cross, W.a. Sheaffer's,parker, Anson Pens, Pencils And PartsVintage Cross 2501 Classic Black Pen And Pencil Gold Plated Set In Original BoxLot Of 11 Writing Pens Pencils Cross Pentel Centennial Chromatic 2 Gold FilledVintage Lot Gold Filled Scrap 1/20 10,12,14k Cross Pens & Pencils Vintage Cross Pen Mechanical Pencil 10k 12k 14k Gold Filled Use Or Gf Scrap LotVintage Cross Townsend Bamboo Fountain Pen Chrome IrelandGold Filled Cross Pen & Pencil Set With Shell Oil Co Logo On ClipsCross Sterling Ball Point Pen 925 SilverCross Co 150 Th Anniversary Sterling Silver Pen Gorgeous! # 1718 Of 1750 Only!!!Cross Townsend 10 Kt Gold Fountain Pen W/18 Kt Nib.... **excellent Condition** Cross Townsend Gold-plated, Grouped Lines Pattern, Ballpoint PenVintage Cross Ladies Pen And Pencil Set 14 Kt.gf Unsed In Box No ReserveCross Ion Gel Pen Neptune Blue Gray Silver Stainless New In BoxVintage Cross Century Ii Fountain Pen Made In UsaCross Pen And Pencil Set Black Ladies Line With Leather PouchVintage Cross Classic Century Ball Point Pen And 0.5mm Pencil In GrayCross Century Ii Medalist Ball Point Pen Chrome & 23k Gold Plated Accents - NewCross Gray Ballpoint Pen & Pencil Set # 2101 - New In Box - L@@k10k Gold Filled Cross Century Disney Mickey Mouse Executive Pen GoldCross Pen Chrome With Mickey Mouse Emblem NibCross 14k Gold Filled Pen & Pencil Set 1960's Original Box Made In UsaLot Of Seven Gold Filled Cross Pens & PencilsCross Classic Blue Tech 3 Multi Function Pen Brand New Doctor Lawyer GiftCross Pen And Pencil Set In Box Black & Gold Advertising Vtg 25010 Green BoxVintage Cross Townsend Bamboo Ball Pen Chrome UsaVintage Lot Of Ballpoint & Fountain Pens Sheaffer's Cross Parker ParketteCross Pen Pencil Set Circa 1975 Sterling Silver Roses W/ Case + Pouch .5mm LeadNew Cross Botanica Golden Magnolia Ballpoint Pen **new In Box**A. T. Cross Pens-salesmens Sample KitVintage Cross Century Fountain Pen Matte Black Made IrelandVtg Cross 14k Gf Ladies Rose Leather Purse Floral Pen Pencil SetCross, Sheaffer, Papermate, Hallmark, Fend And Parker Logo Pens (3688)Cross Tech2 Ballpoint & Stylus Pen , Satin Black Barrel, Brand NewCross Century Ii Medalist Roller Ball Pen **new In Box**Vintage Cross Townsend Bamboo Ball Pen LacquerVintage Cross Century Fountain Pen 10k Gold Filled Body Made Ireland1967 Cross Sterling Silver Pen/pencil Set+leather Pouch-warr-socksSterling Silver Cross Lady's Pencil & 1975 Parker Sterling Silver & Gold PenCross Townsend Black Lacquer/23 Kt Gold Ballpoint Pen **new Old Stock**Cross Apogee Deco Rollerball Pen $150 Graduation Birthday College GiftCross Townsend Barack Obama Signature & Seal Rollerball Platinum Pen W/case ExcVintage Ladies Cross Sterling Mechanical Pencil And Pen In Cowhide Penpurse2 Vintage Cross Ballpoint Pen 1/20 10 Kt Gold Filled Pens2 Cross Since 1846 Ball Point Pens