The 5 Best Cross Fountain Pens

By Daniel Whitehouse

Cross fountain pen nib and cap

The 5 Best Cross Fountain Pens

By Daniel Whitehouse

What’s the best Cross fountain pen?

That’s the question I’m going to try and answer in this article.

The A.T. Cross company is one of the most popular pen brands in the world, but while they’re one of the more fancy fountain pen brands, they’re still often in very high demand because of their affordability and reliability. 

This list is primarily for those not familiar with the Rhode Island-based pen company, for those who want a wider picture of Cross pens.

The way I’ve ranked my list of the best Cross fountains is quite loose given the fact that they all tend to write fairly similarly. The writing experience for each is quite similar; almost all of them have stainless steel nibs. However, the gold-plated ones tend to feel a bit more smooth, less harsh on paper. 

The major differences come in the design of these Cross brand luxury pens themselves, their weight, solidity, and comfort in the hand, so I’ve ranked them primarily by which ones I find the most elegant and the comfortable.

In this list, I’ve done something a bit out of character and not really considered the price as I usually do. You’ll see that I’ve ranked some of the pricier Cross pens at the top. The reason behind this is that usually people looking for a fountain pen have a bit of a more flexible budget.

But, without further ado...

My Top 5 Cross Fountain Pens

Here’s the shortlist:

Here’s a deeper look at each of these high-quality pens

5.) Cross Calais Fountain Pen

Cross Calais Chrome and Blue Fountain Pen with pen case

The Cross Calais is one of our best-selling pens at Dayspring pens because it represents a sort of standard in entry-level metal pens.

Its Art Deco design gives it a kind of simplicity without looking cheap, but it is super affordable. In addition, a lot of people order them with personalized engraving because it really stands out on the wider barrel. 

The Calais is solid with zero plastic-y clickiness. The nib isn’t super high-quality; it’s made of stainless steel, so it's unlikely to break. That being said, it just doesn’t flex a whole lot. But I haven’t ever had a problem with the ink flow or anything else to do with nib functionality. 

Overall, the Calais fountain pen is a great starter pen and makes an even better gift pen.

 Related Reading: How To Store a Fountain Pen Properly

4.) Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen

Classic Century Black Gold Fountain Pen with pen case

The Classic Century is a crowd favorite. 

This slim, jet-liner style pen is one of the staple Cross pen designs. 

One of the things you’ll notice on a lot of Cross pens, especially on the more professional-looking pens, is two gold ribs ringing around the bottom of the cap. You’ll see it on the close cousins of the Classic Century: the Century II, the Townsend, and even the Peerless 125. 

While the Classic Century fountain pen has a great deal in common with all these pen designs, it doesn’t have the rings, instead taking certain cues from the other Art Deco-style Cross pens like the Calais and the Aventura

The lack of rings makes it slimmer and simpler. For the chrome-based Classic Century pens, there are instead some etched ribs that run the length of the barrel, reducing slippage.

It sort of looks like the fuselage of a small Boeing airplane.

I prefer the black and gold fountain pen design because it looks more subdued (the black and gold Cross pens, just look better), and chrome tends to make me feel like I’m holding something that fell off a bicycle.

 Learn More: How to Clean a Fountain Pen

3.) Cross Bailey Fountain Pen 

Cross Bailey Blue Fountain Pen with pen case

The Cross Bailey was actually my first ever fountain pen; it was a great gift from a friend. I had some brown ink for it, too, which made me feel like I was in 1915, writing a love letter from a muddy trench to a girl back home… or something. 

Anyway, the Bailey fountain pen is a step up in design from the Calais. The major differences are in the ring around the top of the cap attached to the clip and the etched cuff around the bottom. It also has a barrel that tapers more towards the back.

The Bailey Medalist fountain pen mixes chrome with gold appointments, and it’s one of the most popular models.

I recommend this pen especially for first time fountain pen users.

Further Reading: How To Write With a Fountain Pen: The 3 Simple Steps

2.) Cross Townsend Fountain Pen

engraved Townsend Black Gold Fountain Pen with pen case

The Townsend is the most expensive pen in our list. Preferred by a number of U.S. Presidents, it stands out as one of the best luxury pens in the Cross company line.

The Townsend features a medium-sized barrel which I think is best in black lacquer with 23k gold appointments. 

The nib features gold plating too, just to add that little bit of extra fancy pen energy. 

What I really like about the Townsend fountain pen is the substantial feel in the hand. Compared to a lot of the other Cross fountain pens, it’s just got that oomph that says, “I know what I’ve got, and I know what I’m doing.”

It makes a great gift pen for special occasions and big shows of gratitude.

Discover More: How to Refill a Fountain Pen: The Beginner's Guide

1.) Cross Century II Fountain Pen 

Man signing document with a Century II fountain pen

The Century II is my favorite in the Cross fountain pen line. I’ve actually written a more in-depth review of the Century II elsewhere.

In design terms, the Century II is situated between the Classic Century and the Townsend—a bit slimmer than the Townsend, a bit more stylish than the Classic Century.

In my opinion, it’s got the best writing experience and the best design out of any of the other pens in our list.

That’s it for the list of best Cross fountain pens. But before we go, let’s answer some Cross fountain pen FAQs...

People Also Ask…

How do I use a Cross Fountain Pen?

Writing with fountain pen nibs might seem like it requires some secret, special skill. However, it’s really not all that different from writing with any other pen. 

You simply write with the nib-side up, feed-side down, and at a slight angle from the page. 

For more, check out my Guide to Writing with a Fountain Pen.

How do I find the right Cross pen converter?

Fountain Pen Ink Converter

Cross pens have their own sized blue and black ink cartridges, but they also have their own particular size for converters. 

Check out Cross’s own website for their fountain pen converters.

How do I load a Cross fountain pen?

Cross Fountain Pen Ink Refills in box

Every Cross pen design has at least two major pieces which unscrew apart between the section (the part where you grip the pen when you write) and the barrel. 

When you unscrew it, there will be an ink cartridge or a converter connected to the section.

Simply take the cartridge/converter out carefully (so as not to get ink everywhere), maybe clean your fountain pen if it’s been a while, and replace the cartridge/converter with a fresh one.

For more, read our guide on How to Load and Use a Fountain Pen.

Pro tip: I’ve found that the Cross fountain pen ink is kind of gloopy, so get yourself a converter and load it with an ink that doesn’t leave little spider web strings between strokes.


Waterman Hemisphere Fountain Pen Black Gold Trim

This has been The Dayspring Pens list of the best Cross fountain pens; I hope it’s been helpful for you to get acquainted with the options available to you.

Some final tips for moving forward: 

To save money on buying more than one pen, consider getting a gift set of Cross pens. At Dayspring, we offer exclusive double pen sets which combine two types of pens in one. Combine a fountain pen with a Cross rollerball pen or a ballpoint.

If you’re looking for pens in order to give them as a gift, aiming for something more affordable will still make a decent gift if it’s got a personalized engraving on it. The best personalized pens aren’t always the most pricey; just put some thought into the words you want engraved on the pen. 

Also, be sure to check out more in-depth pen reviews on Cross products to find out what you’re really getting with your pen choices. Goldspot and Goulet Pens offer great reviews.

That’s all!

If this article has helped you, let us know which Cross pens you’re interested in or which ones you prefer. Leave a comment!


Daniel Whitehouse is the President and CEO of Dayspring Pens. He uses his expertise with premium writing utensils to create exceptional, intentional products and craft easy-to-understand articles that help both new and experienced users learn more about their writing tools. He lives in Virginia where he and his wife are raising their four children.

To learn more about him and his insights about custom engraved gift pens, follow Daniel on LinkedIn.

1 Comment

Hi Daniel I have a Cross fountain pen I’m unable to separate the pen to refil the ink, I think maybe excess ink dried inside, what do you recommend? Thank so much for your help. Appreciatively, Jean

Jean Dailey

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