In 1953, Cross introduced what has become its signature pen, the Century ball point pen. True, they have produced a number of writing instruments prior to this point, and they were one of the major manufacturers. Also, they have expanded the line to include other writing modes (fountain pens, pencils, etc.). However, when one thinks of a “Cross Pen,” a Century ball point, a quarter-inch in diameter, and 5.25” long is what comes to mind.

The Century comes in a number of finishes, from matte gray (like mine) to 14 karat gold, though the quintessential finish would have to be chrome. Often, a little emblem is affixed to the clip—a flag, seal of a university or branch of the military, or a company logo. A feature common to all of them is a chrome top with a black stripe, and a chrome stripe about a third of the way towards the tip.

Like all ball points, it is essentially a fancy holder for a refill. Cross makes them blue, black, red, and green, in broad to fine points. They also make a stylus refill, for people who want something more like a real pen for their PDA. The refill is extended by twisting the top part of the pen.

It is my personal theory that every male in the United States received one as a gift sometime during their lifetime. Typically, this is either for a High School or College graduation.