Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cross Classic Century Pencils

Cross Classic Century Pencil

The roots of the A. T. Cross Company go all the way back to Providence, Rhode Island and the year 1846. Elegant gold and silver casings for wooden pencils were among their first products and pencils continue to be an important part of the Cross product line up. The Cross website has this to say about the Classic Century range of writing instruments.
Forever Classic 
An icon of American design and innovation. The choice of movers, shakers and ground breakers since 1946.
Does form follow function? Or does function drive form? Whatever your point of view, Classic Century delivers. Its sleek profile and patented twist-action barrel sparked a design revolution. Generations later passionate fans remain loyal to the iconic silhouette, while trendsetters appreciate its authenticity. Cool comes full circle.
I’ve ended up with three Cross Classic Century mechanical pencils – two old BP/MP sets and a recent MP.

cross classic century pen pencil sets
From top to bottom
  • Classic Century 10K Gold Filled/Rolled Gold 0.5mm mechanical pencil with 23-karat gold plated appointments. Twist action ratchet lead advance with retractable sleeve. Cross item 450305. This is a current item. 
  • Classic Century Classic Black ballpoint pen / 0.9mm mechanical pencil set, with the Mobil Pegasus logo on the pocket clips. Screw mechanism lead advance. Cross item 2501. This is a vintage item, and marked “Made In USA”. 
  • Classic Century Lustrous Chrome ballpoint pen / 0.9mm mechanical pencil set. Screw mechanism lead advance. Cross item 3501. This is a vintage item, and marked “Made In USA”.
cross classic century mechanical pencils

Two generations. Modern 0.5mm and classic 0.9mm.
cross classic century pencil tip
At some stage I suppose I should try and find out when Cross introduced 0.5mm and when they dropped 0.9mm. If you've got an old Cross catalogue feel free to tell me what lead diameters it has in it.

A perennial favourite. A lot of the Cross writing instruments down my way seem to have been business gifts, embellished with company logos.
cross classic century pocket clip mobil logo

Pull the top half of the body off to access the eraser. The classic Classic has an eraser, but as a screw action mechanism new leads are fed in through the tip. Spare leads are stored inside the body beneath the eraser, but thats just storage, to replace a used up lead a new one has to be removed from under the eraser and inserted in through the tip.
Cross classic century eraser

The current Classic has an eraser as expected, and you pull that out to access the lead refill magazine.
cross classic century lead refill magazine

Note the change in font for CROSS on the pocket clips. Current above classic.
cross logo

The modern Cross Century Classic in 10K Gold Filled – as timeless and popular as a day at the beach with fish-n-chips for dinner.
cross classic century 10k rolled gold mechanical pencil

The Cross Classic Century 10K rolled gold pencil featured in this article was supplied by Euroffice, an office supplies specialist in the UK, in exchange for being featured on this blog and an acknowledgement.


Cedar Boy said...

Thanks Dave. Are the new versions made in China?

Anonymous said...

There are two versions of the 0.5 mm Cross pencil. The oldest version employed a cartridge with a narrow diameter eraser insert on top of the cartridge. With this version, you can use ordinary 0.5 mm leads without the cartridge and insert the wider diameter Cross eraser used in the 0.9 mm versions. The newer 0.5 mm models use a narrow diameter eraser. They eliminated the cartridges and cartridge based pencils quite a while ago, long before they moved production to China.

Bob S. in Phoenix, AZ

Anonymous said...

The older chrome Cross pencils had a knurled grip above the writing tip. I'm not sure when Cross eliminated the knurled grip. By the time the Medalists arrived, chrome body with gold trim, they had already eliminated the knurled grip.

Bob S. in Phoenix, AZ

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Cedar Boy - I cannot see any indication of country of origin on the pencil or its presentation packaging. However, as mentioned on previous Cross pencil postings, the patent number on the pencil mechanism seems to head back to Kotobuki of Japan, so perhaps Japan rather than China? Or assembled in ??? using Japanese components?

Bob - thanks.

Anonymous said...

Why does the mustached older gentleman have an OBE?

Kiwi-d said...

Ahhh, because before he was an X-Man (the photo below), when he was younger he was a member of the royal family...Richard III as I recall.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of cross sets from the time they were made in the USA (0.5mm versions).

I also have several newer Cross ballpoints. I kept buying a new one every couple of months in hope of improved production quality. The blister packaging shows "Made In China".

No comparison. Where the cap meets the barrel was perfect in the US model. Pulling cap off and then putting on - they met perfectly. In China made there is a slight gap. You have to extend the ballpoint, press nib to paper and then push the cap down to close the last mm. So the interior barrel moves slightly. Also in China version the cap and barrel meeting is not perfect so there is some grit and grinding when turning the cap to extend the ballpoint. The US models I have are ALL buttery smooth and meet perfectly - there is no "give" on the interior barrel and so pulling cap on and off shows no problems.

Also look at the interiors of the cap and the thickness of the cap. There is a slight difference in thickness and material between the time they were Made In USA and Made In China.

Perhaps they have improved now, but I last checked several months ago and it was the same. And you are paying for this degraded quality too.

My advice - go for the Parker jotter set which is available in steel. Much better quality for the money.

I am disgusted with the newer Made In China Cross classic. To me Cross is just capitalizing on their fine history. The newer generation people who have never handled the older USA made ones would never know about this. I am sure Cross lost loyal customers when they went to China made.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Parker Jotter (including steel versions) are made in the UK.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add that my previous comment regarding Cross classic is not indicative of all Cross products. Some Cross pens do have EXCELLENT fit and finish. The Cross 3-in-1 pen in particular is of good quality and worth the money. It is also made in Japan...(for now...)

Alas, for the Cross classic quality has been sacrificed without price reductions. If the price has been reduced from USA made models then on balance it would have been tolerable. But this did not happen with this model. The prices remained high with degraded quality - unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

All Cross writing instruments are made in China except for Tech III which is made in Japan. Quality has gone down significantly, not only with fit but with thickness of plating and brass components. The Cross offices have very few people left in them as even shipping is done through a third party logistics company.
Truly a shame, the downfall of this once venerable brand.

Mark Ivory

Anonymous said...

If this is too off-topic, please delete.

Where could one find a high-quality refill for an old Cross Century pen? All I see are cheap Cross ballpoints. Bleah.

Sam said...

I have heard good things about the "space pen" refills by fisher. They make cross refills: http://www.spacepen.com/refills.aspx

I bought a couple from ebay. If I don't like them I will let yall know :)

Anonymous said...

One of the best manufacturer is Schmidt, Germany.
They also produce the space pen refills.

Claire in Springfield said...

Levenger uses Schmidt refills, at least in the two ballpoint pens I bought last month, the new TruGrip and the new Arrondissement. I have several Fisher Bullets and they do not lay down a smooth line, although they always write incuding upside-down because of the pressurized refill. Cross ballpens are the worst-writing. I have half a dozen Cross sterling items--ballpens, the old 0.9mm pencils (which I prefer because they do not stab me inside my purse) and one marker, plus some of the Cross gold-filled, chrome (too slippery), black, maroon or burgundy, and gray. They are well made and stylish. But the Levenger ballpoints are the best I have ever used. The refills say Levenger, Made in Germany. Another blog mentioned that Levenger uses Schmidt refills. I will not be buying anything but these Schmidts from Levenger from now on, such a pleasure to use. I also have quite a few fountain pens. Until now I used the Parker Jotter when I needed a ballpoint pen (I have an original, a T-Ball Jotter, T for Tungsten). Parker refills do fit the Levenger ballpoints, but I am now a Schmidt fan. Mostly I use fountain pens.

Kiel Bryant said...


I need help.

I inherited a classic .9mm Cross and can't, for the life of me, figure out how to reload the lead. Other articles talk about a metal nib protruding past the tip when the cap is screwed, "all the way clockwise" -- my pencil's cap goes round and round. There's resistance, not a full stop. No nib protrudes. Beneath the pink eraser is a brass-colored cylinder which prevents me from loading lead the modern way. When I try to insert it through the aperture at the tip of the pen, rotating the cap counter-clockwise, nothing happens.

Have I any hope?

Kiwi-d said...

darkdroid - it's difficult to be certain without having the pencil in hand, but your symptom of going round and round without stop is typical of a broken mechanism. I can't offer any assistance re repair.

Anonymous said...

Is it at all possible to repair broken pencils? I have one from 1960 that has the same problem darkdroid's does.

Anonymous said...

I found one of these
a gold pencil 0.9 led and today I left it at the bus stop. Im so sad cause it was by far the nicest pencil I've ever owned.

Dominic said...

I think my Century Classic is broken and I want to take the chrome tip cone off – to try and disasemble/fix it.
It will not turn. If I grip it too hard the pliers will ruin it.
Is there some guide to how to take this kind of pencil apart (can't find anything, surfing around) do I unscrew it clockwise rather than the normal anticlockwise.
Any help gratefully received.

Anonymous said...

If the twist mechanism of your cross pen or pencil is stuck. The best bet is to mildly heat it with a heat gun. I tried this trick on a vintage piece and it worked. Alternatively, I think heating it by putting it near a room heater will work too.