Cross ATX Quick Review

Unknown Cross Chrome fountain pen uncappedMy fourth Cross fountain pen is another one that I don’t have a recollection or record of acquiring. Even worse, I had no idea what model Cross pen this is. As luck would have it I found that this was the Cross ATX. Once I knew what pen this was I searched my email and found a shipping notice for this pen in 2006, making it my first Cross fountain pen despite me thinking the Cross Verve was my first Cross. So this ended up being a completely forgettable fountain pen. Although it must have made enough of a good impression to convince me to later buy the Cross Verve.

The pen has a medium steel nib that’s very smooth. A look through a loupe shows perfectly aligned nib tines. It’s got a pull off cap that fits securely. The nib seems to have a smaller sweet spot than my other medium nibs, As I wrote I would sometimes get skipping if I turned the nib while writing. The skipping was always because I turned the angle of the nib, not because of any actual flow problems.

The pen cap posts deeply and securely. The inner cap grips the barrel and hold the cap firmly in place. Since it posts deeply it doesn’t add much to the length of the pen. The pen still feels well balanced when posted, but that is from someone who doesn’t post his pens.

The chrome (metal) section is a problem for me, especially today when it’s 90º here. It does give the pen a nice sleek look. When I uncapped the pen for the first time I thought the pen grew because the section makes the pen look longer.

The clip presses firmly against the pen. This makes it hard to clip into my pockets, but once there it stays firmly in place. Cross’s name is engraved vertically at the top of the clip. “CROSS” is also engraved around the back of the cap.

The “quick” in this quick review means I only used the pen for a day or so. I used a black Cross ink cartridge since Cross uses a proprietary filling system and I want to use these up. The Cross ATX has a lot of good points, the top one being the nib. But it has several points I don’t like, the top (or bottom?) one being the metal section which is also on the thin side, at least for me. I don’t find the pen comfortable to write with for more than a page. What I don’t like doesn’t really make this a bad pen. It is what it is, and others may like a metal section and not find the pen uncomfortable.

The only problem I had was a hard start after letting the pen sit unused nib up for a week. I let it sit nib down for about 5 minutes and is was fine without needing to force the ink.

I’ve no idea how much this Cross Chrome pen cost back in 2006. It’s currently on Amazon for $60. I cautiously consider the pen a fair value at that price, if you like the chrome look and chrome section. I’m cautious because I can’t believe Cross can consistently repeat the nib quality in a sub $60 pen. But it does seem solidly built. According to the Cross website a converter is not included with the pen anymore so calculate a few extra bucks for that ($5.25 direct from Cross). The parts have a solid fit and there’s no rattling when I write. Despite this pen being several years old that doesn’t prove durability since it wasn’t used until recently.

The metal section, along with it being slightly too slim for me, means the Cross ATX isn’t a keeper for me.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.4910″ (139.47 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 5.0260″ (127.66 mm)
  • Length Posted: 5.5870″ (144.44 mm)
  • Section Length: 1.160″ (29.47 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3165″ (8.04 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below barrel): 0.4100″ (10.41 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3850″ (9.77 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.4865″ (12.36 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4865″ (12.36 mm)
  • Weight:  0.8 oz (24 g)
  • Weight (body only):  0.6 oz (16 g)

Additional Reading/Viewing


Stephen Brown’s Video Review


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Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 25

Franklin-Christoph Model 25 on a mirrorThe Franklin-Christoph Model 25 Eclipse is a pen I bought back in September 2012. The Model 25 turns fountain pen design on its head, literally. When clipped in a pocket or pen case it’s nib down, unlike just about every other fountain pen ever made. While not unique for fountain pens in general, the Eclipse has a semi-hooded nib which makes it unique for Franklin-Christoph.

Because of the nib design the nib isn’t easily replaceable. F-C recommends sending it to them for a nib replacement. They also say they’ll email specific instructions upon request. Spoiler: I love my nib and have never considered replacing it.

Why I Got It

Another simple but unique design. The pen is designed to be carried nib down and that intrigued me. I’m not a fan of hooded nibs, I like the look of a nice big nib, but the semi-hooded nib peeks out enough to satisfy me.

This was also my first ever Mike Masuyama nib. I picked the medium stub since I wanted a nib I knew that I would like since swaps are a hassle.

While the pen currently has a choice of a creme or smoke band, at the time I ordered the pen the creme band was the only choice. Even though I like the smoke design I’d probably stick with creme even if I was ordering today. It provides a nice accent to the pen.

What I Got

Franklin-Christoph Model 25 nibA Franklin-Christoph Model 25 Eclipse with a steel Mike Masuyama medium (0.9 mm) stub. The pen is made of black acrylic with a rhodium plated clip and a creme band. The pen is a cartridge/converter fill. There’s metal in the barrel so an eyedropper conversion wouldn’t be advised. Franklin-Christoph also warns that the creme band will also darken if used as an eye dropper.

The semi-hooded nib allows for a small cap which can be slipped under the clip to “post”. If you consider this posting, then this is one pen I do post. If the clip wasn’t enough to prevent rolling, the cap will certainly prevent it when slipped under the clip.

The Franklin-Christoph logo is engraved in the finial on the top of the barrel. The creme band is just below the clip band. The spring loaded clip is rhodium plated and has the four Franklin-Christoph diamonds engraved in it. The clip ring has a very small “Franklin-Christoph” engraved on the back. The clip is attached to a clip ring rather than molded into the acrylic. The clip is firm and I usually need two hands to slide it into a pocket. Once clipped, it’s firmly attached to the pocket.

The barrel seam is noticeable in the photo at the top of this post. But in most normal room lighting it’s not noticeable. It’s manufactured to a high standard and the seam is very smooth.

Despite being carried nib down didn’t have any problem with ink in the cap. There hasn’t been any more ink than other traditional pens that are also bouncing around in my bag, and often less ink. Just a few drops on occasion.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.4655″ (138.83 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 5.1980″ (132.03 mm)
  • Length Posted: same as uncapped
  • Section Length: N/A
  • Section Diameter (near nib): same as barrel
  • Section Diameter (below threads): N/A
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): N/A
  • Cap Diameter: 0.4710″ (11.96 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4710″ (11.96 mm)
  • Weight: 0.7 oz (20 g)
  • Weight (body only): 0.6 oz (18 g)

Writing With The Pen

The semi-hooded nib would be extremely hard to clean if dipped in an ink bottle. I fill the pen either by dipping the converter into the ink for filling or I use a syringe to fill the converter.

The cap needs just under 1 1/2 rotations to remove and get the pen ready to write. I generally clip the cap under the clip when writing with the pen for anything other than a quick note. The pen is always carried or stored nib down so dry nibs are next to impossible. Even when stored flat on my desk for a night it’s ready to write in the morning.

I can pause for about 15 minutes before the ink evaporates off the semi-hooded nib, although this will vary by ink. (I used Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine.) Even after 15 minutes the skip was only the first stroke and the flow picked right up.

I love the medium stub. Even though fine and extra fine nibs are my preference the medium stub is still small enough for my writing and the stub adds some character to the writing. I do need to slow down just a bit to get the most from the nib, which isn’t a bad thing. But even if I go faster the nib is still problem free, it’s just my writing that suffers. I get some nice line variation from the nib and, depending on the ink, some nice shading. It’s more subtle than the 1.1 mm stub but unlike the 1.1 mm stub this one fits my writing. While the difference between .9 mm and 1.1 mm seems minor, on the nib it’s like night and day for me. Obviously I can’t write as small as an extra fine but the medium stub feels natural for me. The 1.1 mm stub requires a conscious effort to change my writing when I use it.

The same clip that makes it hard to slip into a pocket also securely holds the cap in place while I’m writing. I’ve never had it slip off.

This is a thin pen so I expected it to bother me when I’m writing, But since there’s no traditional section and I grip the barrel I haven’t had a problem. I find I can write for about 90 minutes before feeling any fatigue.

The pen is is a comfortable weight, with much of the weight coming from the metal clip. But this doesn’t make the pen feel top heavy since it sits in the web of my hand (between thumb and forefinger) when being used.

The medium stub nibs falls just short of being a daily writer for me since it’s not as forgiving as an extra fine. Using it to take notes at a meeting where my writing is quick isn’t the best use for it. But using it to draft a letter or web post is a perfect use for it. I slow down just a little which also allows me more time to think before I write.

Cleaning The Pen

Cleaning the hooded nib would be a major hassle so I’ve never dipped it into an ink bottle. So with that caveat I can say the pen has been easy to flush out after use. I frequently used the pen before getting the ultrasonic cleaner and it flushes easily with just the converter. It’s never been in the UC. A bulb syringe makes flushing faster but the collar around the feed is high so I would have to use a cutoff cartridge to get a good seal with by bulb syringe, otherwise water squirts back at me. So the old school method of using the converter to flush the pen is the easiest.

Inks Used

I’ve used many bottled inks since getting this pen. All worked well and were problem free. For this review I spent a month with a Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine cartridge in the pen. This was the first cartridge ever used in the pen. I’m about half way through the long international cartridge and it’s been skip free. I also let it sit for an enforced 5 days and it wrote immediately. Not really a surprise since it was stored in its natural nib down position.

Wrapping Up

The pen is a unique yet practical design. I used it a lot in the months after I got it and enjoyed every minute. But then I moved on and this pen was mostly forgotten and was last inked July 23rd of last year. That is just wrong for a nib this good so I’m glad I pulled it out for review. Over time the novelty of the pen design has warn off. So while I do like the looks of the pen I will admit the nib is more appealing than the pen. The Franklin-Christoph Model 25 Eclipse is a keeper, at least until I get a medium stub for one of my other F-C pens.

Additional Reading

Reviewed On FPN




Ink Notes: Caran D’Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey

Caran d'Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey boxCaran D’Ache recently replaced their entire fountain pen ink line with new, considerably more expensive, inks called Caran d’Ache Chromatics. Or as the box says – Caran d’Ache Chromatics INKCredible inks. These are the most expensive regular production fountain pen inks that I know of. At $32 for a 50 ml. bottle that works out to a whopping $0.64/ml. Pilot Iroshizuku inks top out at $0.56/ml, although it is sometimes on sale on Graf von Faber-Castell, another recently reformulated luxery ink lin is just $0.40/ml. I see Montblanc special edition inks for a penny per milliliter less than Caran d’Ache. OK, I think I hammered the cost enough. This stuff is pricey so I expected a lot.

Caran d'Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey open bottleDespite the cost I decided to buy a full bottle rather than a sample. The bottle design is unique and I wanted at least one bottle. I’m currently enjoying grey inks so went with Infinite Grey since it was the most likely to please me. The bottle is different, maybe gimmicky, but I like it. It stands up straight in the box and sits at an angle when sitting on my desk. This makes it a little easier to see into the bottle to fill the pen. But I’m concerned it may make things harder when the ink level is low since the bottle starts off tipped.

The first pen I inked up with this liquid gold ink was my Franklin-Christoph Model 03 with an extra fine (but a wide extra fine) nib. It was heaven. I thought the ink was worth every penny. If that had been the only pen I used the ink in I’d be proclaiming it as the best ink ever and worth the cost. It’s the only ink that’s ever been in the pen so I can’t compare it to anything in that pen. There was some nice line variation and shading. Despite appearing to go on the paper very wet it was a quick drier. This may be the only ink I’ll use in the pen, at least until the bottle is empty.

Then I used it in other pens. In the Sheaffer Custom Legacy with an extra fine nib (and this one being a real extra fine) it was pretty bad. I ended up flushing it from the pen. I did a quick Waterman ink fill to see if maybe I had screwed up the pen. It wasn’t the pen, it was the ink. The nib is on the dry side and the ink did not like that one bit. There was a lot of skipping. A grey ink with a thin line starts off in a hole as far as visibility goes and the result was a disaster. The writing sample in the photos below look pretty good but was the best the ink did and it was a anomaly.

The Faber-Castell eMotion, a medium nib, also had some minor flow problems which is most visible in the horizontal and vertical lines. This pen has a smooth nib that is not a dry writer. It masks itself as line variation in the samples, but there was brief skipping when doing regular writing.

The Retro 51 Lincoln is one of the wettest medium nibs that I have. The Caran d’Ache Infinite Grey did well with this nib.There was some nice line variation and shading. I typically find this pen much too wet a nib to be pleasant for me. But the Infinite Grey was dry enough to be pleasant for me.

The Taccia Staccato resulted in some nice variation and shading. The pen did well with the ink, no complaints.

The properties of the ink are good, but not great. It washed almost completely away in the water test. Feathering was non-existent on all the papers I used. Bleed-through was nearly non-existent on the papers I used. The only bleed-through was minor and on some cheap, unknown office paper I tried. There wasn’t any bleed-through on the papers I typically use (such as Doane, Rhodia, and some Staples copy paper.

It’s hard for me to pin down the flow of this ink. It depends on the fountain pen. Flow was perfect with the F-C Model 03, terrible with the Sheaffer and OK with the Retro 51 although other inks are wetter in that pen. So I’d say flow is a little on the dry side.

Caran d'Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey bottleThe intensity of the grey (can grey be intense?) depends a lot on the paper and the pen which is why I like it. The shade of grey varies greatly based on the paper. Not just the color of the paper but also on how quickly the paper absorbs the ink. Non-absorbent papers (Rhodia) result in a lighter grey while  more absorbent paper (Doane) results in a darker grey. Caran d’Ache Chromatics Infinite Grey in the Model 03 writing on a Doane Paper writing pad is trifecta. The Doane Paper Jotter is nearly as good. This ink is very enjoyable on absorbent papers, less so on so-called “fountain pen friendly” papers like Rhodia.

This doesn’t make me want to run out an buy some of their other colors. I can’t justify the price difference compared to other inks but it was worth the cost to satisfy my curiosity and I really do like this grey. The bottle will provide several years supply for my Model 03.

Additional Reading and Viewing

Reviewed on FPN

Goulet Pens has a good comparison video showing all the Chromatics inks along with some comparisons.


Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9284 Signature Stub

Esterbrook 9284 Stub nib side viewThe Esterbrook #9284 stub nib is unique among my accumulation in that it’s a straight stub and not a relief (oblique) stub nib. The nib is BIG! It’s much wider than my favored fine and extra fine nibs. Yet, I got a lot of enjoyment out of using the nib. It was fun watching it put the ink down on paper.

The 9xxx series nibs were Osmiridium tipped, unlike the 1xxx and 2xxx series nibs. This made it more durable and, at least in theory, smoother. Esterbrook called these “Master Renew Points.”

I don’t have a box, but Esterbrook literature refers to this nib as a “Signature Stub” which certainly seems appropriate. While the line does vary the widest stroke was about 1.2 mm wide when I wrote with it. The nib is quit forgiving of the writing angle. It quickly goes through a fill of ink, especially since I’m used to the ink frugal fine and extra fine nibs.

The nib is smooth and because it is wide it tends to glide right over the paper fibers. There is a little tooth to the nib but it pleasant to write with.

The Esterbrook #9284 stub isn’t going to be a daily writer for me, but it will be inked every so often because it’s fun to use.


Sunday Notes and Links

Some links I enjoyed this past week…

My Antique Pens: Esterbrook Dollar Pen

Ink Nouveau: TWSBI 580AL and TWSBI 580: What’s the Difference?

The Smiling Nib – Pen Pursuit

A Second Chance: The TWSBI Diamond 580RB | From the Pen Cup

Write to Me Often: Fabriano Traccia Notepad Review / Fabriano Traccia Defter İncelemesi

Review: Parker 45 — Alt. Haven

Art supplies, Provence and Paris. | Leigh Reyes. My Life As a Verb.

Eccentric Envelopes | The Well-Appointed Desk

Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic fountain pen review | Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Dudek Modern Goods Summer Sale! 10% off through July — The Clicky Post

Pen Review: Sailor Professional Gear – The Pen Habit

The Pile of Index Cards System Efficiently Organizes Tasks and Notes | Lifehacker

canetas e coisas: KREUZER

Baron Fig Road Test and Quick Tips — Modern Stationer

Review – Kaweco Allrounder | My Pen Needs Ink

Pilot Petit1 ~ Inkdependence!

Inktronics Reviews The Kaweco AL-Sport Fountain Pen | Inktronics

Ink Reviews

Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine Fountain Pen Ink Review | Pen Paper Ink LetterPen Paper Ink Letter

Cross Apogee Quick Review

Cross Apogee - uncappedI’ve already decided that my Cross Apogee fountain pen doesn’t have a future in my accumulation. But I want to start giving my soon to depart pens a quick look and publish a review before they move on. So I’ll start with the Cross Apogee. Unlike my full reviews this pen was only used for a day, with one ink, before writing this review. Despite having the pen for several years it was very rarely used, which provides a clue about what I think of the pen. The draft of this review was the longest single writing session with the pen.

I associate Cross with those thin ball point pen and pencil sets given as graduation gifts or gifts for other similar events. Back in my youth the Cross brand had a certain luxury cache’ to it because of this, but by the time I acquired this pen that had long worn off.

I don’t have a record or recollection of where or when I acquired the pen. I would have guessed it was over 10 years ago but according to an old press release I found the Apogee line was launched in September 2005 so it’s newer than that. Then I realized my Cross Verve came before this one so that puts this one joining me in 2009 or later. The pen currently lists for $185 but according to the press release the price ceiling was $150 back when it was introduced.

The pen has a medium 18kt gold nib that’s rhodium plated. I like the one-tone nibs, especially when they match the pen design as this one does. “Cross” is engraved into the nib along with some decoration that gives the nib a bit of a feather look. As a writer the nib is surprisingly smooth, at least I was surprised. There is a bit of tooth to it but just enough to know it’s writing. Some nibs are enjoyable and a pleasure to write with, but despite being a technically good this nib just doesn’t do anything for me. The one flaw is an occasional skip, usually on a down stroke. A check of the tines shows a slight misalignment. The skipping isn’t enough to be annoying but it probably contributes a little to the lack of joy when using the nib.

A converter was included with my pen although the Cross website says the converter is currently optional (so add $5.25 to the cost) which is unforgivable in a pen at this price point. The filling system is proprietary so if you stick with cartridges it’s Cross only.

While I must have written with the pen when I got it, I don’t recall ever using it. For this review I used one of my few remaining Cross Black cartridges. The ink flow was good except for the previously mention skipping. The pen wrote immediately after being left unused overnight. But the pen has only been inked for a couple of days.

I like the Chrome design which Cross cross “guilloché-etched chrome”. While I can’t speak to durability since I’ve almost never used the pen, the finish remains shiny and untarnished after all these years. “Cross is engraved into the clip and “Cross -est 1846-” is engraved into the back of the cap band.

The clip is a spring loaded lever. It’s necessary to push down on the end of the clip to slide it over any material. Maybe it could be done with one hand after some practice, but I needed two to slip it into my shirt pocket without fumbling with the pen.

The pen posts securely although it takes a little extra pressure to push the cap down so that the inner cap locks onto the barrel. Posting makes the pen way too heavy for me although it may be fine for people used to posting.

The slip on cap emits a nice solid click when it snaps closed. The black section, which seems like plastic, has a sleek appearance and smoothly merges with the barrel making the pen comfortable to hold.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped:  5.5550″  (141.10 mm)
  • Length Uncapped:  5.0240″  (127.60 mm)
  • Length Posted:  5.6215″  (142.78 mm)
  • Section Length:  1.0790″  (27.40″)
  • Section Diameter (near nib):  0.3785″  (9.61 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near barrel): 0.4695″  (11.93 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section):  0.4365″  (11.09 mm)
  • Cap Diameter (at band):  0.5670″  (14.40 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter:  0.4845 ” (12.31 mm)
  • Weight: 1.4 oz.  (40 g)
  • Weight (body only):  0.8 oz.  (22 g)

Wrapping Up

I hadn’t used the Cross Apogee in years and didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I actually found myself considering keeping it in my accumulation as a Cross representative. But the reality is I just wouldn’t ink it up.

Not including the converter in a $221 (list) pen is unforgivable and makes me wonder what else they cut corners on. This pen does seems solidly built, but my experience with other Cross pens would leave me worried about it’s long term durability. I’d have a hard time recommending this pen to someone as a new purchase. If you like the look and want a metal pen it could be worth the money since it’s low maintenance (the chrome doesn’t tarnish). For me it’s not a keeper.