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Why so few vintage Cross pens in the collector marketplace?


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29 replies to this topic

#21 Chrontius

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 18:04

I know this does not qualify for this topic but I bought a Classic Century in like new condition at an antique shop for $12.00! I am not really sure why there is such an indifference for Cross pens! Next to it was an old beat to death no name FP for $30.00!

That 1930 Cross is absolutely amazing! :puddle:


Picked up one on eBay for $15 plus shipping. Seems that it was sent with a rollerball cap, because it leaked like a sieve when capped. A $10 repair trip, and it came back with a silver dot inset on the cap, and working as new. It's a fairly broad 'fine' with a nice, juicy nib with just a bit of flex - this may be the best-behaved pocket pen I've run across. Just need to figure out what kind of converter it needs.

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#22 Lsarios

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:51

It uses the same converter as the Townsend.
"What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving."
"When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for...that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation."
"You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it"

#23 Lsarios

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:53

And I could not agree more. The Classic Century is the easiest pen to carry all day! You don't even notice that you have it and it writes beautifully every time. I am using MBRB ink and the pen loves it!
"What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving."
"When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for...that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation."
"You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it"

#24 Garageboy

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 04:33

Wait, so there were no other Cross FPs between the 30s and the 80s?

#25 Jerome Tarshis

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 13:11

As one who lived through the Parker 51 era, I disagree that the large number of Cross fountain pens sold as gifts has discouraged collectors. If number of units sold is the measure, then the Parker 51 should be even less interesting to collectors than Cross FPs. Instead, one of the things 51 enthusiasts tell each other is that the pen sold more units than any other fountain pen. Best selling pen of all time. But far from deterring today's collector, that seems to be an argument in favor of the pen.

Number of units aside, there are other differences. The Cross Century FP introduced in 1982 to the world market and in 1984 to the United States market was never thought of as terrifically desirable. Somewhat desirable, yes. Fashionable, yes. But Parker advertised the 51 as the world's most wanted pen, people believed it was, and although there was a time near the end of the 51's original run when it wasn't very wanted at all, the fact is that its technical excellence combined with Parker's marketing made it more salable than any Cross fountain pen ever was.

I would add, parenthetically, that there were years, possibly many years, when the Sheaffer Snorkel outsold the Parker 51 in the United States though not in the entire world. Both pens were interesting, and although I enjoy writing with my Cross FP, I can't make much of a case that it's interesting in the same way as the 51 and the Snorkel were. What can be said for Cross pens, at least in the past, is that they were well manufactured. That is very different from being interesting as objects.

Yet another point is that Cross pens are somewhat less a big-box product in foreign countries than in the country of their origin. FPN members outside the United States are, I think, more likely to perceive a Cross fountain pen as potentially an upper-middle-class object than Americans are. At first Cross did try to position the pen that way in the United States, but those efforts subsided. As slogans go, "smart indulgence" isn't in the same universe as "the world's most wanted pen." Cross marketing was never really there in the way that marketing was there for the Vacumatic and the 51 and the 75. And various Sheaffer pens, too.

For whatever reasons, Waterman as well as Cross pens have been offered in large quantities in big-box office supplies retailers without, it seems, degrading the image of the Waterman brand.

For me it isn't only one thing that accounts for the Cross brand's lack of glamour when it comes to fountain pens. It is several things, not least the changed market for fountain pens in general. By the 1980s glamour attached itself to fountain pens that weren't sold in mass-market quantities, and Cross found itself somewhat between two stools there.

They were committed to moving a large number of units at a time when perceptions of fountain pens differed from what they had been during the 1940a and earlier. In the early 1980s it wasn't at all easy to get up to speed as a new fountain-pen manufacturer selling large quantities at premium prices. The Boss family has been doing the best it knows how, but mechanical pencils and ballpoint pens were the markets the company could dominate, not fountain pens.

Edited by Jerome Tarshis, 20 October 2010 - 13:15.


#26 doodlebug

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 22:59

Because some of us are still using them!

In the mid 80's I was gifted a Cross Century fountain pen with my name engraved on the cap. It is my desk pen and I have been writing with it every day for the past 25 years. It is a lovely smooth writer and it never fails me.

#27 Johnny Appleseed

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 16:39

Wait, so there were no other Cross FPs between the 30s and the 80s?


I believe that is the gist of it. Cross was not a big player in the pen market from 1900 to 1980. They seem to have had a few models that come up, but they really didn't make a lot of pens. It was not until the 1980s that they dove deep and developed the market share in the pen world that they have today.

John
So if you have a lot of ink,
You should get a Yink, I think.

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Always looking for pens by Baird-North, Charles Ingersoll, and nibs marked "CHI"

#28 Gundalow

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 20:15

I have a 14 CT gold fountain pen marked CROSS on the cap and MABIE TODD & CO New York at the base of the barrel. The nib is Waterman's Ideal Account 14 KT. Not sure why the names of 2 different manufacturers of fountain pens are stamped on the same pen.



#29 Hanoi

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 11:28

I find it interesting that for a company synonymous with gifting there is so little of Cross pens outside the United States.  Parker and Sheaffer had manufacturing plants in Europe and Latin America so that explained these pens´ appearance around the world but what about Cross?  It´s interesting to see auctions of Parker pens from Croatia and Jordan and Sheaffer pens from Uruguay and Thailand but I have yet to see a Cross from these parts of the world.  Occasionally, some Cross fountain pens popped up from Canada.  Indeed, there was an auction for a bunch of Sterling silver Cross fountain pens from Canada that I missed out.  The price was so cheap I thought they were fake.  In any case, fountain pens from America seem to be prestige products throughout much of the second half of the 20th century.  They were expensive, made from the finest materials, and were technologically sophisticated for their times.



#30 Matlock

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 08:01

I have found this thread very interesting. Here in the UK, very few Cross pens (or pencils) come up at antique sales and when they do they are usually thrown in a shoe box with an assortment of BICs, broken Parker Jotters and the like. I have managed to obtain some great Cross writing instruments for very little money this way. I recently bought a Cross Sterling Silver Century fountain pen for a very good price. It was an Irish pen in it's box with an unused converter and a box on cartridges of which one had been used and was in the pen and very dried out. The pen was almost black with tarnish and the nib unit was caked with ink. It had initials engraved on the cap (I'm not too worried about that and I could always change my name I suppose :) ). I gave the pen a gentle clean, the worse thing with silver is to over polish, which revealed a set of crisp Irish hallmarks. I soaked the nib unit and now have a great pen from, I would say, the early 1980s. I would think the pen had been received as a gift, used a few times and then put away in a drawer. Very sad really. 


Peter







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