Cross century ballpoint pen

Tag Archives: Cross Classic Century

Much like the Parker Jotter, the Cross Classic Century is a timeless design. First released in the 1940s, the pen has retained a solid feel. Coming in several design patterns, choices are quite varied, including a model that comes in at over $2,500. My budget will keep me to the lower end! The model you see in the pictures is the Cross Classic Century Satin Chrome, which does not appear on the Cross website. My assumption is that this version of the pen is no longer in production, which would be a shame, as I really like its styling.

This pen can definitely be a workhorse. The metal body gives it a nice weight. This is a very thin pen with a width of less than 8mm. That may prove to be uncomfortable for those who prefer a thicker pen. Overall, though, despite its size, the Cross Classic Century is a very durable pen.

This is a swivel action pen, so there is no button mechanism to worry about breaking. Turning the top of the pen is smooth and the tip comes out cleanly. I have read a number of reviews of this model that suggest that the pens of Chinese manufacture have issues here. Checking the original packaging, I see that I, too, have a Chinese pen. Perhaps I got lucky, but it does not exhibit the problems these reviews suggest. You can read those reviews by clicking the affiliate link at the bottom of this review.

The dreaded (though easily fixed) gap!

One of the issues pointed out was that after placing an ink refill, the two halves of the pen did not come completely together, and thus exhibited a gap. I can reproduce that, but it’s also easily corrected by twisting the top half as you press it back on. Some may find that annoying, but it’s so easy to do, that I have a hard time seeing it as a problem. I have to admit, though, that I have not owned an older, American made Cross, so I have no real basis to compare the two. They do come with a lifetime guarantee, so if you do have issues with one, it should be relatively painless to get fixed.

Overall, I like this pen. While a little narrow in diameter, the weight is excellent and ink flow seems perfect. I get no smudged lines from still wet ink as I move down lines. Nor do I see gaps in writing. Just nice, smooth writing – well, as smooth as my handwriting can be!

Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen – A review of the timeless writing instrument with classic styling…Is it worth buying if you find one? Find out now…

  • Timeless Classic Styling
  • Unique, thin body
  • Screw on cap to post
  • Engraving full length masks fingerprints

  • Scratchy nib until manually adjusted
  • Dry writer until you separate the tines
  • Unscrew cap to remove

Design – Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen

The Cross Classic Century fountain pen is a beautiful fine writing instrument with classic styling and design. It’s the thinnest fountain pen I’ve ever written with and that’s part of what drew me to this pen in the first place. It is the same width as a BIC Round Stic which means it’s extremely portable and a great pen to have with you that doesn’t take up a lot of space.

The Cross Classic Century is entirely chrome except for the black derby on the cap. It has a lustrous metallic chrome finish and comes standard with a medium point steel nib.

It has finely etched groups of lines that run the length of the body and cap which are barely noticeable except upon close inspection. These help hide the appearance of fingerprints but don’t always line up when you cap the pen, but that’s barely noticiable.

Branding – Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen

The Classic Century has CROSS etched horizontally into the edge of the cap under the derby and above the clip.

Cross is also engraved on the top of the pen clip.

Performance – Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen

Writing Appearance

Man, I just wanted this pen to write well because I love the simple, classic styling and unique thin body. Unfortunately, right out of the box it was extremely scratchy and disappointing. It was constantly ink-starved and even when the ink was flowing there was just too much friction against the page.

You have to understand I was rooting for this pen based on its design; it’s just so beautifully simple and unusually thin for a fountain pen that I wanted the underdog to P-E-R-F-O-R-M!

Unfortunately, its writing ability let me down. I delayed writing this review because I wanted to make sure I got it past its break-in period, hoping it would magically begin gliding on glass but it didn’t happen without some adjustments.

I finally got frustrated enough with it that I pulled it apart, cleaned it thoroughly even though it was new when I got it, and manually adjusted the tines by putting my thumbnails just between them and then again on the outside and lifting them off of the feed a little. That did the trick!

Different Papers

After adjusting the tines for better ink flow, it is a good writer on notebook paper. It’s still a bit starved on heavily-fibered paper, skipping and starting occasionally. The Cross ink in the cartridges it comes with smudge readily so it would not be a good choice for left-handed writers.

After minor adjustment, it writes without scratchiness on notebook paper, but not as fluidly as other Cross pens I’ve tested.

Cap Fit

What’s fantastic about the design is that the cap screws onto the body when you post it to write. This is fantastic because other Cross pens I’ve reviewed like the Cross Aventura and Bailey Medalist both require removing the cap to write, otherwise it wiggles off every time. This screw-on cap stays posted firmly. A drawback is that you also have to screw off the cap to use it; I can see wanting a pull-off cap for a daily writer.

Smudging

It is a typical Cross Medium Nib, which is a little thick of a line for my taste, but about the line-width of a felt-tipped pen.

After adjusting it, it writes a little wet and smudges readily if you drag your finger across it soon after writing. By five minutes, the Cross black ink was completely dry.

Hand Fatigue

Because it’s so light and so thin, there is NO hand fatigue when writing with it for extended periods. It is a dream to hold and the size of it is so similar to a ballpoint, it’s hard to believe you’re writing with a fountain pen. When I first put the cartridge in and used it it was tiring only because it was so scratchy. After pulling it apart, adjusting the tines and cleaning the brand new fountain pen, it glides across the paper much more smoothly.

Maintenance

When I received my Classic Century, I pulled it out of the box and without much though plugged in a brown Cross cartridge from my Cross Medalist.

Big mistake.

Because the Classic Century is so thin, the body wouldn’t fit over the 8926S cartridge. So I pulled it back apart, and inserted a much thinner black 8929S-1cartridge.

The pen is easy to get apart and clean. I was also able to manually adjust the tines on this pen by using thumbnails to pry apart the tines slightly because it was so scratchy and ink-starved out of the box.

Overall Value – Who’s The Classic Century Best For?

The Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen would be good for someone who wants a fountain pen the size of a typical Bic disposable ballpoint pen and isn’t intimidated to pry on the tines a bit for better ink flow. The good news is that it’s no longer available, Cross has upgraded this pen to the Century II since most fountain pen users don’t want to have to adjust tines for fear of breaking one off.

Because the Classic Century is no longer readily available (it’s been replaced by the Century II), the older version would be a good value for experienced fountain pen users who are willing to make some adjustments to a vintage pen to get it where they want it. The new one for the rest of us!

Get the price on a Cross Classic Century II on Amazon.

Last summer, after answering an Ask The Desk post about finding a classic ballpoint pen, I developed a fascination with Cross Century pens. At the DC Pen Show, I acquired my first, an engraved Cross Century II in matte blue metallic and have since acquired three more: two classic Cross Centuries and a Cross Century II Starlight from NOS this December. You may be asking yourself, what’s the fascination?

First, the original Cross Century is similar to the Parker Jotter in that the design has been around for decades. Its classic, streamlined and elegant. Originally created in 1946 and still in production today, the Cross Century is a sleek, elegant design and, like the Jotter, worthy of being in any pen collector’s collection, whether you acquire your grandfather’s or purchase a new one. Or both.

The Cross Century II is an updated version of the Century modified to accommodate rollerball refills, a more ergonomic grip section and the larger pens preferred by modern pen consumers. This also allowed for some innovations in their refills as well which Cross refers to as the “Selectip” refills which appealed to me because one of the options is a felt tip. Of all the major pen manufacturers, Cross is the only one I know of that offers felt tip as a refill option.

(This is the point at which I am NOT going to talk about the Star Wars Cross designs. Like they never even happened. Nevermind, those are the “Townsend” line — they are still awful. I can gripe about the Marvel Century IIs. Those are bad too. Giant logos do not make for good licensed products. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled happy review.)

And then there’s the “Switch-It” mechanical pencil option that can be dropped into the ballpoint pen to turn it into a pencil. I love a pen manufacturer who considers giving their customers range and options! Of course, the actual implementation of the “Switch-It” refill is a little janky and it is only available as a 0.7mm mechanical pencil which steam a lot of people since the older Cross mechanical pencils were 0.5mm or 0.9mm so the fact that the Switch-It insert only has one width option is kind of lame. Anyway, actually using the Switch-It insert took a little practice since it doesn’t work like any other mechanical pencil I’ve ever used.

While it took me awhile to figure out how to work the Cross “Switch It” Pencil refill on my own. I came to the same operating action as demonstrated in the video shown here:

And, of course, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I modified the Cross Spire pictured at the top of the photo to accept a Uni Signo 0.38mm D1 refill by jamming a bit of plastic in the end of the barrel to make up the space disparity in the length. It’s now one of my favorite everyday pens.

My engraved “The Well-Appointed Desk” Cross Century II Royal Blue Selectip Rollerball Pen $29.95 (plus engraving charges) is filled with the fine tip porous point black ink and the Cross Century II Starlight Rollerball in Grey has a fine tip porous point with blue ink. The Starlight was purchased NOS and is no longer available but Anderson Pens still has some of the ballpoint pen models available.

Cross refills are considerably more limited than Parker. Cross makes proprietary refill sizes and offer a limited range of tip sizes and colors, where PArker style refills became the industry-standard size. As a result, Cross pens are not nearly as popular unless you like plain black and blue ink and medium width ballpoint or rollerball refills. However, if you are willing to do a little tweaking, there’s some opportunities to make these beauties work for you. And, in some ways, it looks like Cross is trying their best to help too like the Switch-It pencil refill.

Now, if they can build on that…

The models shown above but not mentioned are:

  • Cross Century Classic in Black Gingham $39.95 with the Switch-It 0.7mm mechanical pencil refill and Pilot Neox red lead
  • Cross Spire Icy Chrome Rollerball Pen $59.95 so not technically a Century but still vey classic.