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.
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.
The 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.