What's even better than just the fact that they are in Rhode Island however, is the presence of the outlet store maintained at corporate headquarters in Lincoln, RI. For any pen afficianado it's well worth the trip up Route 146 from Providence to visit.
On one of my embarrasingly frequent visits there, I aquired the three pens pictured below: Cross Pinnacles in Amber, Peacock Blue, and Bordeaux. All of which were fitted with 18K medium nibs. Produced from 1997 to 1999 the Pinnacle was positioned at the high end of the Cross line and was ultimately produced in only the three finishes pictured, Sterling Silver and 10K Gold filled.
First impressions/ appearance:
Cross fountain pens are relatively heavy in the hand compared to celluloid or resin pens and the Pinnacle is no exception. The three I have are beautifully finished with deep colored lacquer finishes. The solid Bordeaux especially, has a depth of color that is truely remarkable and suggests multiple layers of clear coat over the lacquer - like the finish on a fine automobile. For those familiar with the current ATX line, the sweep of the clip at the top of the pen into an integrated top cap will seem very familiar and the Pinnacle was, to the best of my knowledge, the first Cross pen to use this design. The furniture on each pen is plated in 22K gold and the plating is thick and well done - to where I would think that brassing will take quite a bit of use/abuse to accomplish. The 18K nibs are two toned, sized appropriately and make a nice contrast at the front end of the pen. Overall, these are beautifully finished pens.
The pinnacle is a classic Cross design, lacquered finishes on heavy brass barrels with 22K gold plated barrel ends, trim rings, clips and cap rings. The nib section is black plastic and self contained as a unit with nicely finished gold plated nib rings and trim rings ofsetting the 18K two toned nibs. The caps are snap fitted and go on and off with a certain satisfying authority and are snug once secured (one of my personal pet peeves being snap caps loose enough to rotate freely when on the pen). Capped the Pinnacle stands 147mm and posted comes in at 160mm making this a large pen, similar to my Sheaffer Balance II's, Cross Townsends and OMAS Ogivas. The barrel diameter is noticeably thinner than the others however making the Pinnacle sleeker in the hand. The placement of the clip high up on the cap means the Pinnacle sits deep in a shirt pocket when carried with only about 10mm of the cap protruding - which is quite a bit different that either the Townsend or the Balances whose low set clips leave 25mm or more above the level of the shirt pocket. In use, the length of the barrel and it's minimal taper makes the Pinnacle ideal for use unposted and the pen is very comfortable in the hand used this way. This is especially true since the weight of the lacquered brass cap unbalances the pen away from the nib a bit too much for my personal taste - but not as much as a Townsend.
Filling System and NIb
The Pinnacle is a typical cartridge/converter. Personally I never use cartridges so I can not comment on the performance of the pen there. The converters supplied by Cross fit snugly into the nib units and fill reliably. I personally have three pens with four nib units: three mediums and one medium custom ground to cursive italic by Pendemonium - all in the 18K two tone (which visually look great by the way). The nibs are typical modern nibs: smooth out of the box, no flex, nice wet writers with just a little "tooth" to give a little tactile feedback and no line variation to speak of. The modified nib on the other hand is a lot of fun to use and gives just enough line variation to make life interesting and writing fun. I have often heard people complain about the Parker "51" as a "boring" writer - myself I would use the word "predictable". The Cross Pinnacle is a very predictable writer in stock form with no surprises, nasty or otherwise.
For some reason Cross pens have never ascended to the cachet of many other makers - which I think is unfortunate for them but fortunate in a way for the consumer. As a result Cross pens can often be found at attractive prices from retailers as well as on the web. For those of us who actually use our pens Cross pens are high quality instruments which will give years of good service and good value.
Edited by jjb_13, 16 December 2006 - 02:18.