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”)

Parker51.com

Parker51.com

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]

Penhero.com

Penhero.com

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    

Lot 6 Vintage Fountain Pens 4-parker Sonner 45 51 Cross Waterman W/14k Nib CaseBeautiful!! 1970s Pilot Cross-hatch Namiki Fountain Pen Silver Made Japan FpLot Of 8 Collectible Cross & Boeing Decorative Pens W/ Cases Cross 1/20 14kt Gold Filled Ball Point Pen & Mechanical Pencil ,Vintage Cross Townsend Bamboo Fountain Pen Lacquer UsaCross Century Classic Ball Point Pen Matte Black, Gt Ballpoint No ReserveCross Usa Century Classic Satin Matte Black & 23kt Gold Selectip Rollerball PenVintage Cross Pen And Pencil Set 14 Kt Gold Filled NrVintage Tiffany & Co Special Cross Century Sterling Silver PenVintage Cross 14kt Gold Filled Ball Point Pen And Mechanical Pencil Set In BoxLot Of Cross Mechanical Pencils & Pens Montblanc Bradley Gold FillVintage Mans Junk Drawer Lot (zippo Lighter) ( Cross Pen)(old Ford Keys) & MoreVintage Cross Pen And Mechanical Pencil Set 1/20 14kt Gold FilledCross Townsend Series Selectip Pen Titanium FinishPolished Chrome Gold Trim Cross Medalist Ballpoint Pen Ball PointSterling Silver Cross Ballpoint Pen (vintage)Cross Burgundy Pen & Pencil Set,# 220105Cross Ball Point Pen "baily" Medalist . Rare.nos.free Shipping & RefillCross Townsend At0045-4 Black Lacquer Rhodium Selectip Rollerball Pen New In BoxCross Townsend 695-1 Quartz Blue Selectip Rollerball Pen - Brand New In BoxCross Classic Century 14 Karat Gold Filled / Rolled Gold Ball Point Pen #:1502Vintage Cross Gold Filled Pen And Pencil Set In Box W/ PaperworkCross Townsend Cross Rollerball Pen In Box - Gift For Flying On Concorde Cross 1/20 12kt Gold Filled Ball Point Pen & Mechanical Pencil Cross Usa Made Century Medalist Roller Ball/select Tip Pen **new Old Stock** Vintage New 1501 Cross Ball Point Pen & Pencil Set 14k Karat Gold Filled, UnusedCross 10ct Gold Rollarball PenPen And Pencil Lot Cross Parker Sheaffer New In BoxVtg Boxed Cross #4502 10k Gold Filled Pen W Buick EmblemCross Townsend 10 Karat Gold Filled / Rolled Gold Selectip Rollerball Pen Usa 14kt. And 12kt. Gold Filled Cross Pen And Pencil SetVintage Cross Chevrolet Ball & Felt Point Pen & Pencil Trio Set Model 331505 EucNew Cross Apogee Stacatto Design Rollerball Pen In BoxCross Boeing Airline Black And Gold Pen & Pencil Set EucNew Cross Verve Ball Point Pen In BoxVintage Cross Sterling Silver Ball Point Pen Made In UsaVintage Cross Pen And Pencil Set With Bechtel Logo-1/20th 10kt Gold Cap/barrelVintage Cross Pen & Pencil Set - 6601 - 12 Kt Gold FilledCross Ballpoint Pen With Mcdonalds LogoCross Townsend Sterling Silver Pencil/ball Pen Cap-- Made Usa-new Old StockCross Townsend Fountain PenVintage Cross Pen And Pencil Set W/ Us Veterans Of Foreign Wars (vfw) SealCross Blue Velvet And Gold Filled Ladies Ball-point Pen ~ New ~ 13-c3375Nib Cross Gel Pen Cross Click, Includes Refills And Pouch, Pink, Gel InkOmni Cross Ultra Chrome Ball Point Pen Mechanical Pencil Set New Lot Cross Vintage 10 Kt Gold Filled Select Tip Pen Pencil In Boxes AdvertisingLimited Edition Cross Peerless 125 Obsidian Black Lacquer Rollerball Pen GiftCross Century Ii Classic Matte Black & 23kt Gold Rollerball Pen $100 ValueCross Classic Tech 4 Multi Function Pen Teachers Ladies Dad Mothers Day GiftVintage Cross Pedrara Oynx Alabaster Desk Set W/ 2 Pens 12k Gold Filled20 Year Goodyear Tires Cross Pen & Pencil Set 20 Y Anniversary In Box12kt Gold Filled Cross Ballpoint Pen & Mechanical Pencil Set With Case CompleteCross Edge Gel Ink Pen. Satin. Free Shipping. Lifetime Warranty Cross Classic Century Medalist Ballpoint PenVintage Cross Ball Point Pen 1/20 10kt Gold Inkpen Brother Made In UsaMarked Gold Filled Cross Ball Point Pen And Pencil Set In Original Box W/paperCross 1/20 10k Yellow Gold Filled Ball Point Pen Vintage Cross Pen And Pencil Set Never Used 10k Gold Filled New W) Box/paperwork1964 Vintage Cross Classic 14k Gold Filled Pen & Pencil Set W/orig CaseVintage Cross 12kt Gold Filled Ball Point Pen And Pencil Set