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