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Cross Century II


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#1 Catsmelt

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 17:42

1. First Impressions

My first fountain pen was a Cross Century, matte black, that my wife gifted me. It's been a pen that holds sentimental value, but it's a gusher of a pen that gives new meaning to "wet." Regardless, I've had my eye on some of the Cross line if only to wonder if my impression about Cross was actually a characteristic of their pens.

I bought this Century II because the price was too cheap not to experiment. I saw it at a Home Goods store along with a collection of Townsends and ATXs. While I wanted to buy all I could, I zeroed in on the fine and extra-fine FPs and all I could walk away with was a Century II and an ATX.

The packaging suggests that these were seconds or overstocks (silver box) and all came with one black cartridge.

2. Appearance and Finish

This pen matches my original Century in color and trim (black and gold), although the "II" is a glossy lacquer finish. This pen differs from the original Century in the following ways:

-the cap is larger in diameter than the body
-the section is a sculpted plastic rather than smooth
-the nib has a more traditional shape rather than rectangular (think Parker 75)

3. Design / Size / Weight

In the universe of FPs, this is a fairly thin and diminutive pen as is the original Century. even so, it feels good in the hand. There aren't any noticeable "breaks" in elevation between the section and body, so there is a degree of continuity. The pocket clip is snug but not overly rigid. Just right for me.

The dimensions of the pen are:

- 5 1/4" capped
- 6" posted
- 4 7/8" unposted

Since this is a lacquer on brass pen, weight is an issue for me. This is especially noticeable in such a thin pen. I prefer to write with it unposted. While I would normally do this with any pen, the size of the Century II's cap makes the pen feel very unbalanced in my hand when posted.

4. Nib Design and Performance

I selected the EF nib for no other reason than to try the extreme contrast to my Century's medium nib. I'm assuming this nib is gold plated (no karat markings on the nib), and the nib is quite decorative with some elegent-looking etched lines.

The nib's tip has a very slight hook to it and the nib is angled from the section so that the tip is aligned on the pen's axis. The feed is of a comb type and is in my estimation the cheapest looking aspect of the pen -- quite obviously molded plastic.

Out of the box, the nib didn't really feel quite right to me. Most of it has to do with my preference for other-than-extra-fine nibs. Still this is a generous EF. I wouldn't say the nib is scratchy or toothy, but there's definitely some "feedback" or friction. As compared to my Waterman LeMan EF (which is as buttery smooth as can be), this takes some getting used to. It is also a very rigid EF.

Regardless, it is characteristically wet (making me feel that even a new Cross medium would be too much for me). I can handle a wet EF or F, so this is good for me. Unfortunately, the pen came only with a Cross ink cartridge which feathers on most of my papers, so I haven't yet had a chance to try out other inks.

Although this really isn't a nib issue, the ribbed plastic section rotates fairly easily. I recall a discussion here on FPN that suggests this is a design flaw of the product line rather than a flaw of my specific pen.

5. The Filling System.

As with any other Cross, it accepts the proprietary cartridges. As for the converter, I believe this uses the screw-in cross converter.

6. Cost / Value

Since I bought this at Home Goods, I got it for well below MSRP. $16.99 if memory serves. How can anyone complain about that? While this pen will likely not be in regular rotation, but used nonetheless, I'd still consider this a value.

7. Overall Opinion/Conclusions

To be honest, I think I'll spend my money on other brands in the future. There's nothing bad about this pen, it's just not me. I'm not too sure if I would buy it again. If I recommended this pen for anyone, it would be for those who like Cross as a brand. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone unless you were able to get one for a song, just to try it out.

Cap Off

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Attached Images

  • cross_century.jpg
  • cross_century_cap_off.jpg
  • cross_century_nib.jpg

Edited by MYU, 27 November 2008 - 00:42.


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#2 Judybug

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 17:53

Thanks for this well-written, thorough review - complete with pictures. [I like pictures. smile.gif ] I don't have any experience with a Cross Century, but I have two Townsends that were E-Bay bargains. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I never was impressed with Cross pens - always associating Cross with the skinny metal ball points that were so popular in the 60s. So it's somewhat surprising that I am so completely pleased with the Townsends. They are becoming favorites.

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#3 Catsmelt

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 17:58

QUOTE(Judybug @ Feb 6 2007, 05:53 PM)
Thanks for this well-written, thorough review - complete with pictures. [I like pictures. smile.gif ] I don't have any experience with a Cross Century, but I have two Townsends that were E-Bay bargains. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I never was impressed with Cross pens - always associating Cross with the skinny metal ball points that were so popular in the 60s. So it's somewhat surprising that I am so completely pleased with the Townsends. They are becoming favorites.

Judybug

While I'm not bowled over by the FPs, I really do like the ballpoints you speak of. A great, smooth consistent line.

#4 Rique

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 19:51

QUOTE(Catsmelt @ Feb 6 2007, 02:42 PM)
The packaging suggests that these were seconds or overstocks (silver box) and all came with one black cartridge.

I´ve never heard of "seconds" (products sold at a discount because they have small manufacturing flaws) connected with fountain pens; my only experience with this was related to high-end shoes.
Is this a practice with fountain pens? Do all makers do this kind of selling, and how can we recognize a pen as a "second"?

regards,
Rique

#5 adyf

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 20:39

I'm quite surprised about the findings of this review. I have had a Century II medallist for a number of years and always found it to be excellent. Always starts and never skips and lays down a nice wet consistent line. In fact i've just bought another in sterling silver. I have Parker 51's, a Duofold, Pelikans right through the range to an M805, Bexleys, Sheaffer Legacy, Sailors, Caran D'Ache and an Aurora Optima, and i still think the Century II is a very good pen. The Townsend, Verve and ATX are great pens too IMHO. Like everything else though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

#6 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 21:26

Interesting pen and thanks for the review wink.gif
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#7 Judybug

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 00:30

QUOTE(Catsmelt @ Feb 6 2007, 11:58 AM)
QUOTE(Judybug @ Feb 6 2007, 05:53 PM)
Thanks for this well-written, thorough review - complete with pictures.  [I like pictures.  smile.gif ]  I don't have any experience with a Cross Century, but I have two Townsends that were E-Bay bargains.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I never was impressed with Cross pens - always associating Cross with the skinny metal ball points that were so popular in the 60s.  So it's somewhat surprising that I am so completely pleased with the Townsends.  They are becoming favorites.

Judybug

While I'm not bowled over by the FPs, I really do like the ballpoints you speak of. A great, smooth consistent line.

My father had a ball point/pencil set that he really liked. My only complaint about these pens was that they seemed slippery to me. I never could write with one without my hand sliding. Maybe it's just me. rolleyes.gif I know a lot of people like these pens.

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#8 Catsmelt

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 00:47

QUOTE(adyf @ Feb 6 2007, 08:39 PM)
I'm quite surprised about the findings of this review. I have had a Century II medallist for a number of years and always found it to be excellent. Always starts and never skips and lays down a nice wet consistent line. In fact i've just bought another in sterling silver. I have Parker 51's, a Duofold, Pelikans right through the range to an M805, Bexleys, Sheaffer Legacy, Sailors, Caran D'Ache and an Aurora Optima, and i still think the Century II is a very good pen. The Townsend, Verve and ATX are great pens too IMHO. Like everything else though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Thanks for the feedback.

As I said, it's not a bad pen -- just not a pen that I'd put in the starting lineup. The Century II indeed lays down a very wet and steady line. I guess I wasn't explicit about that.

Perhaps I would appear more positive if this was a fine nib instead of extra fine. However, my feelings wouldn't be completely swayed because I've got an ATX with a fine nib and it's got the same sort of "feedback" that is preferable to some, but not me.

I'm actually contemplating swapping out the EF for an F on this, so I'd say the jury's still out for me. My old Century has a very smooth medium nib. Too bad for me that it's so darn wet.

Judybug -- thanks also for the feedback. If my BP was anything but the matte black I don't think I'd be able to hold onto it. The matte provides just enough texture for a good grip.

#9 hunter186

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 00:57

I like my Century II a lot. I have the medalist finish, and I think it's a great looking pen. The M nib writes great, but it's very broad and wet. I'm contemplating getting a F nib for it.

There is some feedback, as you describe it, to the nib. I wouldn't call it scratchy, but I've used smoother nibs. I actually like the feel of it, and it's an easy starter that never skips. To each his [her] own, I suppose.

#10 Catsmelt

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 01:43

QUOTE(Rique @ Feb 6 2007, 07:51 PM)
QUOTE(Catsmelt @ Feb 6 2007, 02:42 PM)
The packaging suggests that these were seconds or overstocks (silver box) and all came with one black cartridge.

I´ve never heard of "seconds" (products sold at a discount because they have small manufacturing flaws) connected with fountain pens; my only experience with this was related to high-end shoes.
Is this a practice with fountain pens? Do all makers do this kind of selling, and how can we recognize a pen as a "second"?

regards,
Rique

I vaguely recall a thread here that discussed something about this. I don't think the "second" nature had to do with quality per se, but were mild forms of intra-species frankenpens.

To explain myself... it was suggested that nibs, sections, other parts were culled from a parts bin and put together and sold at a discount.

This was put forward as an explanation for an FPNer who bought some ATXs that had a section of a different style than the body.

I should add that there was no info directly from Cross on this matter, and it all came from either informed or ill-informed speculation...

Quality-wise, I have no idea why the pens I bought were discounted. I'm guessing it was an inventory issue at the factory or warehouse.

#11 RLTodd

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 04:31

"Second" here could have been overstock.

They do take the screw in Cross converter.

Have the same pen in Fine plated steel nib, it is one of my favorites. I have no complaints, zero, and would gladly buy another one, even at list price.

My only reservation with the current C2 line is that Cross has gone over to silver furnishings and I think it makes the pens look chnitzy.
YMMV

#12 southpaw

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 17:47

Thanks for the very well done review, and for writing a review of a pen that you were not completely enamored with. Often it's only the rave reviews that we bother to write, but we need to hear about them all! Thanks again.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#13 JimStrutton

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Posted 07 February 2007 - 18:25

Thanks for this review, I have a SS Century II and I am in a quandary about mine too.

It is a pen I should not like, but I find that I can fill it with any old ink and it writes well. The feel is just not what I hope for in a pen, and it is a bit on the heavy side, but then again it sits here with PR Supershow Blue in it and I keep picking it up, so is it the pen or the ink that draws me in? Dunno huh.gif

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#14 Chris

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 13:52

I have a chrome Century II with medium nib. I'm not a great fan of the finish - a bit shiney - but the pen is simply a very effective, reliable and smooth writer.

I tend to use it for trying out new inks as its medium nib lets out a nice wet line and also allows for some shading.

Thanks you for a very informative review.

Chris

#15 stypen

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 20:11

Thank you for the review. It is very descriptive and I enjoyed reading it.

I don't like the tooth in some century II nibs either, but I LOVE the pen's weight and shape. I actually prefer thin pens usually, and for those with that preference, I can't recommend this pen highly enough (I have the matte black model). Classic styling and it sits more perfectly in my hand than any other pen I own. (Posted btw)

I would add that my favorite non-vintage pen of all is a Cross: my Verve platinum, fine nib. If you haven't tried one of those, you are in for a treat. The nibs are butter smooth and the pen is uniquely beautiful. Somehow I even love it despite its girth...

Just another viewpoint on the shape.

#16 Theresarrt7

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 08:53

This is the first fountain pen I have bought in many years. I've never had anything other than a cheap Scheaffer. I am disappointed in the Cross. To me, the writing produced doesn't have any character. It writes smoothly and works fine, but all the lines are too consistent. BTW, your nickname is "Stypen." I had a chance to try a Stypen Noa that a student of mine brought back from France. If I know where to get one, I'd snap one up in a second. It is light and makes beautiful marks on paper.

#17 Beechwood

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 09:03

I have one of these pens and I agree 100% with your review. I am just sorry that mine wasnt the bargain that you managed.

My pen, with a medium nib writes very wet too, which is fine by me.

 


#18 pamsc

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 13:41

A Century II with a medium nib was my first new fountain pen--I wanted something at this price point and wasn't offered much choice at the store I visited. When I was young Cross sets were the classic pretentious, useless graduation gift, and so I had a negative image of the brand. But I love the pen. It is slim and heavy and a very wet writer, and I love all those characteristics. It has probably spoiled me for other pens. I've already bought a second one and am on the lookout for interesting colors or patterns.

#19 jsroe

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 19:42

It really depends on what your preference is. The Century II is a slim well balanced pen with a rigid and precise nib. It also has some weight to it because of it's steel body giving it a substantial feel without feeling heavy at all. If your preference is a hard nib over a flexible nib, slim over wide, this is a great well built, reliable work horse fountain pen that delivers a consistent and wet (but not a gusher) ink flow that will never let you down. I find the nib comparable in smoothness to my Pelikan M200 which is another wonderful steel nibbed pen. The Century II is well worth a try if your preference is for a slim compact fountain pen with a hard precise nib.






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