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 Lapis Lazuli Gold Flakes Ballpoint Pen W/box & Manual Rare ExcCross Vintage 14 Kt Gold Filled Ballpoint Pen **excellent Condition**Vintage Lot Gold Filled Scrap 1/20 10,12,14k Cross Pens & Pencils Nice Vintage 14kt Gold Filled Cross Pen & Pencil Set Box Purse Case Manual Mint Cross Townsend Platinum Select Tip-roller Ball Pen **new In Box** At0045-1Parker 75 Cross-hatch Silver-plated, 14k Nib Size: Medium, Fountain PenCross Matte Black Fountain Pen Usa Made ExcellentSunoco Advertisement Vintage "classic Black" Cross Ball Point Pen & Pencil Set Cross Vintage 14 Kt Gold Pen & Pencil Set **superb Condition**Cross Townsend Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen Nib Model 652 Solid SilverVintage Matching Cross Ball Point Pen & Pencil 1/20 18kt Gold Filled Ex/nrmtVintage Matching Cross Ball Point Pen & Pencil 1/20 14kt Gold Filled Excellent Vintage Cross Companions 14k Gold Filled Pen Pencil Set W/ Box Booklet Very NiceCross Townsend 10kt. G.f.r.g Fountain Pen 706-mCross Fountain Pen Nib 18k 750 MCross 1/20 14k Gold Filled Ball Point Pen Good Condition Blue InkVintage Estate Lot Of Fountain Pens Others Cross Parker +++Lot 3 Cross Townsend Black Rhodium Century Ii Silver Rollerball Pens NibCross Vintage 12 Kt Soft Tip Pen **new Old Stock**Cross Century Classic Ii Medalist 23kt Gold & Chrome Ballpoint Pen $85 GiftLot Of 4 Silver And Gold Cross Ballpoint PensCross Century Medalist Pen & Pencil Set **new Old Stock**Cross Century Ladies Gray Ballpoint Pen & Pencil Set **excellent Condition**Vintage Cross Pen And Pencil Set Ball Point Mechanical 10 K Gold Fill Orig Box +Cross Ballpoint Pens, Lot Of 2, New In The Box Cross Gold Filled Ball Point Pen & Mechanical Pencil Set Cross Vintage Purse Pen 14kt Gold Filled In Original Box Vintage Cross Townsend (bamboo) Fountain Pen Chrome Body UsaCross Century Ii Sterling Silver & 18kt Solid Nib Fountain Pen Doctor $300 GiftCross Bradley Parker Pen Pencil Lot Of 11 Some 1/20 12k And 14k Gold FilledCross 10k Gold Filled Pen And Pencil Set With CaseVintage Cross Texaco Star Advertising Ink Pen And Mechanical Pencil Set-new-nib-Cross Blue Ball Point Pen Buick Professional Sales Master Cross Pen Pencil Set 1/20 12k Gold Filled NewCross PenCross L0k Gold Filled Century Cartridge Fill Pen--retired By Cross-fine PointVintage Cross Classic Black Pen & Pencil Set 2501 With Instructions/ WarrantyUsed Cross 10 Kt Gold Filled Pen And Cross Chrome Pen State Farm Insurance LogoCross Rollerball Selectip Pen 10kt G.f. With Hanna Emblem 2 Refills Fine PointCross Classic Century-lustrous Chrome-selectip Rollerball & Ballpoint Pen SetCross Ballpoint Pen & Pencil Set #4501, 10k Gold Fill New In The Box Cross Pen Lot Writing Quality Pens Pencils 10 Pens Burgandy Chrome BlackCross Century Classic Black & 23kt Gold Fountain Pen Graduation GiftCross Century Classic Ii 23kt Gold Pen & 0.7mm Pencil Set New $178 GiftCross Century Classic 23kt Gold Diamond Cut Rollerball Pen $250 Graduation GiftCross Metropolis Rollerball Gel PenLot Of 6 Beautiful Gold Black Cross Pen Pencil Rare Tuxedo Black Cross Morph Ballpoint Pen + 5 Refills New $150 Graduation GiftCross Century Classic Copper Ballpoint Pen Teacher Mom Dad Graduations New Gift2 Vintage And Sleek Cross Chrome Ball Point Pens And 2 Cross Chrome PencilsCross Century Ii 925 Sterling Silver Rollerball Pen $200 New Teacher Boss GiftCross Townsend 10kt Gold Filled Rollerball Pen $300 Doctor Wedding Groom Gift Cross Roller Ball Pen With Pen & Pencil Set Black CenturyVintage 14k Gold Filled Classic Cross Pen & Pencil Set No 1501 Original Box-nosLot Vintage (5) Cross Pens Pencils 1/20 14k & 10k Gold Filled & Chrome W/ BoxesLot Of 19 Pens/pencils Cross Gold Filled, Silver Tone Metal, Pierre Cardin, EtcCross Century Chrome Ladies Line Ball-point Pen & Pencil Set With Leather Pouch Cross Blue Starlite Fountain Pen And Ink ResevoirCross Vatican Museum Limited Edition Pen - New - Made In AmericaCross Classic Century 14 Karat Gold Filled/rolled Gold Pen And Pencil Set