My 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.
I’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 mentioned 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.
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.
The Cross Verve was my first Cross fountain pen. This was a Cross that broke from the company’s typical conservative metal pens and used a fresh design. When I first received the pen I used it every day. It was great. The 18kt gold nib was smooth and the pen was comfortable in my hand. It was a short honeymoon. In less than a year I had soured on Cross’s quality. Eventually the pen began to fall apart. I consider my pen handling normal. I neither coddle or abuse them. I just use them. The first problem was that the cap stopped clicking firmly onto the pen. There’s a seam between the cap and barrel and the cap feels loose. There are four small prongs to hold the cap in place and I still get a click when I cap the pen, but it’s not solid. A bigger problem was when the clip snapped off. The clip is molded into a piece of plastic which is then affixed to the cap. It’s the plastic that snapped off. After sitting in a drawer for a year or two I super glued it back on. It looks just a little bit off but is solid. Unlike the Cross Apogee this pen never gave the appearance or feel of being solidly built and always felt fragile. The cap is extremely thin which may have contributed to the now loose fit. There’s no cap band for support and it feels fragile. Even though I’ve tried to be gentle I’m surprised it hasn’t cracked. The finish attracts fingerprints and oil from my hand more than any other pen I have, This is not a pen for a humid summer location. I’m beginning to think it actively pulls dirt from the air. Moments after wiping it clean the finish is marred with dirt and fingerprints. I like the Merlot finish but it’s high maintenance. The pen does post securely thanks to the inner cap. Even though the inner cap takes the pressure I’d still be afraid of cracking. I don’t post my pens so this wasn’t the cause of my cap problems. So much for the negatives. The bright spot for this pen is the medium 18kt gold nib. I’ve read that the nib was made by Pilot. I don’t know if that’s true, but it would explain a lot. It was smooth when I pulled it from the box and it’s smooth today. I might be a little over enthusiastic since it’s such a stark contrast with the rest of the pen. Unlike the Cross Apogee this nib is a real joy to use. There’s just a little tooth so I know the pen is writing although even that vanishes on smooth paper. The flow is consistent and I’ve never had a problem. The ink reached the nib by the time I sealed up the pen after putting in the cartridge.
When I inked the Cross Verve up for this review I expected it to be a last hurrah for the pen. The pen soured me on Cross quality and I’m not at all surprised to see the pen is no longer sold by Cross. I do see a a couple new ones on eBay for over $400. My advice – stay away! I don’t see any used which is also no surprise since they probably didn’t survive. (Mine was $130 and I wouldn’t recommend it at that price either) I’ve come to terms with the negatives so despite those negatives, or actually because of them, the pen is a keeper. I’d be too embarrassed to give it away and I couldn’t sell it for what the nib is worth to me. I kept my first car until the body rotted away so much the engine (and me) were likely to fall out. Likewise, I’ll keep the Cross Verve until the nib is no longer usable in the pen.
I was at Staples the Friday before Christmas, picking up some last minute stocking stuffers when I saw the Cross gift pen display. There was a lone fountain pen in there so I added it to my low-cost pen collection since it was selling for $20. I later found this model sells for about $40 online, although I’ve seen it at $35 from unknown vendors while other unknown vendors are above $45.
I decided to ignore the embarrassment of my chicken scratch and post the handwritten review below. But the high-points are:
I had low-expectations but was wrong. It’s a nice pen.
Includes 6 black ink cartridges but no converter
The screw-in converter from my Cross Verve fits the pen (and screws in) although I haven’t used it.
Clicking a photo will open them in a gallery. My regular camera isn’t working so please exclude the iPhone photos.
Cross Bailey packaging
Cross Bailey gift box
The Cross Bailey nib
Cross Bailey feed
Hand Written Review:
Again, clicking the image will open a larger version in a gallery.