Pen Review: Cross Townsend

by Steve on February 20, 2012

I bought this Cross Townsend quite a while ago, probably in ’99, on one of those trips to the pen store where discipline and good sense went for a walk around the mall while I was in the pen store. I don’t know what I was thinking, as I already owned both a Parker Doufold and a Pelikan M800, but there it is. I must have been thinking I wanted a more formal pen for business situations, that was a little more common than the Parker or Pelikan.
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The pen is long. It’s about a centimeter longer than a Lamy Safari, and perhaps 2cm longer than my Pelikan M200′s. It is also heavy, at 44g vs. 16g for the Safari and 14g for the M200. Even the Pelikan M800 is only 29g. Writing with the cap posted qualifies as a forearm workout. I suspect many people associate weight with quality. I know I did for a time. But for real writing comfort I find a lighter instrument is much nicer.

The design is Cross, kind of like a Pillsbury Doughboy version of the Century. The reveal is large at 2.5cm. If you’re looking for something that’s going to really show in a pocket, this is the pen for you. They got the finish right – this one is in green pin stripe, and the finish is rich and flawless. The threads and overall construction are solid, and the pen is well made.

It has a 14k gold nib, which writes very much like most of the steel nib pens I have. The grip is a bit narrow, but comfortable and the pen can be held close to the paper, which I like. The ink system is cartridge/converter, with the same twist-piston converter I see on most pens.

20120217-110223.jpgThe cap is a friction fit, but it’s a tight fit, and while it stays on very securely it is hard to pull off. Unlike the Lamy 2000 which has a nice, crisp, positive feel, the Cross is more like shoving a rubber stopper in a bottle, and removing the cap as the same unpredictable feeling as removing a cork from a bottle of champagne. I find myself flinching when I take the cap off, which is the biggest reason I hate this pen. I do not want to use a pen that punishes me for using it.

Overall Cross Townsend is a competent pen, if unremarkable in the way it writes. It’s a pen for people looking more for pocket jewelry and conference room bling than writing performance, and it delivers that along with a very sturdy feel.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Booker February 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm

I think I know what you mean about the cap. The one on my Cross Apogee has the same ambiguous on/off point. Otherwise, though, I love my Apogee. It’s one of my favorite pens for writing. I’d buy more Cross pens, but the Apogee is the only one that I think looks good.

Oh, and discipline and good sense? I leave those at home when I go the pen store.

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Steve February 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

Hi Booker, I’ll have to have a look at the apogee. Cross pens are well constructed, and certainly have a following.

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Bill H. June 24, 2012 at 9:13 am

I signed a few contracts today with my circa 1996 Cross Townsend (dark green/black marbled lacquer finish). One colleague even said “Oooo…nice!” when I unholstered it. I like its look, size, and heft, but I’m a big guy with hands that can swiftly palm a basketball.

Regarding the “unpredictable” cap removal, I have my own solution: I open it one-handed by gripping the cap with my thumb and forefinger, and the barrel with the other three fingers. With just a little pressure, it pops off while control is maintained. That said, I like the security of its cap–I’ve never stained a dress shirt pocket with my Townsend.

In retrospect, however, I’d say that I sometimes wish I’d have bought the fine nib. The medium nib really flows; maybe a bit too much.

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Steve June 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the comment! For folks who like size and heft, I can see why the Townsend would be a nice choice, and the color and finish certainly have board room appeal.

As for turning the medium into a fine, there are a couple of things to consider. First, if it’s just too wet, you can adjust the nib slightly by pinching the two shoulders of the nib toward each other. Pinch a bit, write a bit, pinch more if necessary. You’ll get a bit messy, but you get a wet pen under control. If you make it too try, use your thumbnails under the shoulders to spread them a bit.

Second, if it’s just too wide, then you can probably send it back to Cross for a replacement, or you may be able to order the narrower nib.

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