How to Tell Which Cross Pen You Have?

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to tell which cross pen you have

With nearly two centuries of experience in the industry, the A.T. Cross Company’s pens have become collector’s items and status symbols. Even if you buy secondhand Cross pen models on auction sites like eBay, you can count on the fact that they will work due to their durable design.

If you’re not an avid collector but happen to inherit an old writing utensil, check out our guide on how to tell which Cross pen you have.

Ways to Tell Which Cross Pen You Have

Strategy #1: Determine the type of pen


Anyone can tell the difference between a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen. We’re not here to state the obvious. The goal of this section is to help you determine when each type of vintage (Cross pens) became available on the market.

1. Fountain Pens

When Richard Cross established the company in Rhode Island in 1846, it only produced stylographic pens until they were discontinued eight decades later. Some sources say that Cross released its first fountain pen in 1930.

By contrast, the brand’s official website indicates that it first created the “Peerless” fountain pen in 1889.

Nevertheless, fountain pens are probably the oldest Cross writing utensils one can have.

2. Ballpoint pens

Cross Pen company’s ballpoint collection was first launched in 1954. As the name implies, a ballpoint pen utilizes a tiny metal ball at the tip to dispense ink, which is composed of dye or pigment combined with oil and fatty acids.

Cross ballpoint pens have a smooth ink flow, and some are engravable with customized imprints in different fonts and colors.

3. Rollerballs

Introduced in 1976, Cross rollerballs often have a click mechanism rather than the twist-action mechanism of the brand’s ballpoint pens. The design allows for neat, efficient writing and has refills to enable long-lasting use.

4. Multi-function pens

Launched in 1983, multi-function pens work both as mechanical pencils and ballpoint pens that you can access by twisting the top part of the barrel. But with the rise of mobile devices, its latest iterations include stylus for touchscreen compatibility.

Strategy #2: Identify the pen’s features

Examining the body, nibs, and trims of the pen can give you clues about the model you have. Below, we compiled all the materials that Cross uses to make each type of pen:

1. Fountain pens


  • Body materials: Wood, resin, lacquer, chrome, silver, and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)
  • Nibs: Solid gold and stainless steel with PVD, rhodium, or gold plating; available in a range of sizes
  • Trims: Chrome, gold, silver, rhodium, platinum, and PVD

2. Ballpoint pens


  • Body materials: Platinum, resin, PVD, chrome, lacquer, stainless steel, wood, and rose gold
  • Nibs: Metal ball nibs
  • Trims: Gold, chrome, platinum, and rhodium

3. Rollerball pens


  • Body materials: Chrome, resin, lacquer, metal, platinum, and PVD
  • Nibs: Metal ball nibs
  • Trims: Gold, rhodium, platinum, and chrome

4. Multi-function pens


  • Body materials: Metal with some versions having gold plating
  • Nibs: Stylus, ball nib, and 3.5mm pencil leads
  • Trims: Chrome or gold-plated materials.

If you manage to determine the materials of each component, you can get a general idea of which Cross pen collection it came from. For instance, a pen with silver trims and stainless steel nib is likely a Townsend.

Strategy #3: Look for information on the pen.


Tip #1

A lot of our readers are asking, “How do I date a Cross pen?”

Thankfully, most of the Cross pens have engravings detailing their general identification details. However, you need a magnifying glass to see the small text located on or near the clip.

For example, you learned that the body material is gold-colored metal with a gold nib.

Now, you see an engraving that reads “Ireland.” It is likely that your pen is a Classic Century produced between the ‘70s and ‘90s, given that the manufacturing plant was located in Ireland during this period.

Other engravings you may see are USA or China logos, which indicate the pen is made in USA or China. US pens are made during Cross’s earlier years, while those manufactured in China are newer (around 2006 onwards).

Tip #2

You can remove the ink holder from the pen and check for numbers on it. For instance, if you see “0805,” it means that the ink cartridge was created in August 2005.

Tip #3

Limited edition pens are serialized. You can use the serial numbers indicated on the cap to identify which collection it belongs to and its release year.

For instance, A.T. Cross once collaborated with the Star Wars franchise. In 2015, 1,977 pieces of designs inspired by StormTrooper, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, BB-8, Han Solo, and R2-D2 were released.

There are many Star Wars pens on Amazon. But by checking the pen’s logo, serial number, and physical features, you can determine whether it’s part of a limited edition or not.

Strategy #4: Cross-check information online.


A.T. Cross’ official website details their company history and pen collection. If you can’t find the specific model in their current offerings, you may own one of those discontinued Cross pens.

Note that the Cross pen value tends to increase if it is considered vintage and perhaps, even a rare collector’s item. If it’s broken, know that the company offers a perpetual lifetime warranty.

Another option is to ask help from forum users who may know a thing or two about your old Cross pen.


In this article, we showed you how to tell which Cross pen you have using several methods. You can follow the steps for all the strategies or try them one at a time. Ultimately, it depends on what you already know about the pen.

For instance, if you know exactly when your fountain pen was made, then you can proceed to the other steps to identify the body material or collection. It’s not a straightforward process, but we hope that this guide will help you.

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