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    

Vintage Cross Gold Filled Ballpoint Pen & Pencil Lot Of 13~some Boxes/ PapersCross Townsend Rollerball PenVintage Gold Filled Cross Pen & Pencil LotRare Cross Townsend Titanium And Rhodium Herringbone Rollerball PenVintage Cross Fountain Pen Grey Body Made Usa1970s Vintage Cross Gold Ball Point Pen & Pencil, Mint W/ Box - General ElectricEstate Vintage Cross Executive 14k Solid Gold Body Mechanical Pencil * No PenVintage Cross 14k Gold Filled Fountain Pen With 14k NibCross Classic Century Copper Ballpoint Pen New In Box At0082s-65Vintage Cross Pen & Pencil Set, 10kt Gold Filled, #4501 W/box Cross Botanica Black Primrose Ballpoint Pen New In Box At0642-5Vintage 14k Gold Filled Cross Ball Point Pen & Pencil Set W/ Box Lot (16) Mechanical Pencils & Pens, Cross Gold & Chrome, Elysee, Wood, Various Cross Black Matte Pen & PencilCross Click Matte Red & Black Gel Pen + 2 Free Gel Refills New In Box At0625c-8Cross 14k Solid Yellow Gold Ballpoint Pen Cross Century Classic, Sterling Silver Trio, Fountain Pen, Ballpoint & Felt TipVintage Cross 14k Gold Filled Fountain Pen W/original Box 14k Gold Medium M. Vintage Cross 14k Gf Pen And Pencil Set In Original Case Clean OriginalVintage Cross 1/20th 14kt Gold Filled Pen & Pencil Set Cross Classic Century Chrome Fountain Pen Medium Point New In Box At0086-74ms Vintage Lot 2 Cross Ballpoint Pens & 2 Mechanical Pencils 1/20 12k Gold FilledLot 7 Ballpoint Pens & Wood Box Mont Blanc Meisterstuck, Waterman, Cross, Lamy Rare!! Vintage 1970's Pilot 18k-750 White Gold Cross-hatch Fountain Pen JapanCross Peerless Fonderie 47 Collector’s Edition Rollerball Pen W/ Box & StandCross Century Ii Black Lacquer & Silver Rollerball Pen New In Box At0085-42 Lot Of Cross Ge Logo Classic Black 4 Pens/4 Felt Tip/3 Fine/12 Refills/1 Pencil Vintage Cross 10 Karat Gold Filled/rolled Gold Ballpoint PenCross Pens - Lot Of 12 Cap And Click Pens - UnusedVintage 60's Cross 14k Gf Ballpoint Pen And Pencil Set In CaseCross 10k Gold Filled Ballpoint Pen And 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil SetVintage Cross Fine Writing Pen Silver Twist BallpointVintage Cross Century Roller Ball Pen 12kt Gold Filled Usa Mc Dermott Inc LogoVintage Cross Townsend Bamboo Roller Ball Pen Chrome Body UsaVintage Cross Pen 14k Gold Filled Black Soft Tip With 1 Refill In Original BoxRare Disney Mickey Mouse Cross Brand PenCross Pen & Pencil Set-vintage-black & Gold-thin-original Case-beautifulVintage Cross 1/20 12k Gold Filled Ballpoint PenCross Classic Black Pen & Pencils With Boxes LotVintage Cross Townsend Bamboo Fountain Pen Lacquer Body Fine Point UsaCross Century Ii Matte Black & Gold Fountain Pen Med Pt New In Box 2509mf Vintage Cross Century Roller Ball Pen 14kt Gold Filled UsaCross Century Classic Violet Purple Pen New Nurse Ladies Rna Cna Rn Mom GiftVintage Rare Pilot(namiki) Elite 18k Japanese Fountain Pen Cross-hatch Japan 101A T Cross Sauvage Collection Azurite Blue Crocodile Rollerball Pen Nib NewCross Century Classic Ballpoint Pen Vintage Green & 23kt Gold Appts Double Band Cross Townsend 582 Ball-point Pen Titanium Gold Plated Appointments Made UsaCross Matte Black & Gold Tone Fountain Pen Medium TipCross Pen Set Black New "citgo"Cross Click Gel Ink Pen Polished Chrome (at0625-1) Free Usa Shipping!Cross Fountain Pen Used In Box With Black InkVintage Snap On Tools Cross Ball Point Pen Chrome Made In UsaCross 2101 Pen & Pencil Set Gray - VintageCross Pen And Pencil Set, 10k Gold Filled, EngravedNice Gold Filled Cross Fountain Pen, With 14k-585 Solid Gold NibCross Chrome Roller Ball/felt-tip PenDow Chemical Cross Pen And Pencil SetJudd's New Cross Century Ii Mascarade Cardinal Red Ballpoint PenVintage Lot Of Cross 4 Ballpoint Pens & 2 Mechanical PencilsVintage Cross Pen Set