Cross Townsend Fountain Pen: Quick Look

The Cross Townsend is a rather iconic model of pen, recognized in many corporate circles as a status symbol of sorts. Several of our U.S. Presidents have even signed bills into law using this model of pen. And it makes sense, it’s a very stately, professional looking and feeling pen. So today, I’ll give you some of the highlights of what the Townsend is all about. 

We have 7 finishes available at, two of them with stainless steel nibs, and five with 18k gold nibs. Here is the breakdown:

Lustrous Chrome (steel nib), $140
Medalist (steel nib), $190

Black Lacquer with gold (18k nib), $320

Black Lacquer with Rhodium (18k nib), $320

Quartz Blue Lacquer (18k nib), $350
10k Gold (18k nib), $410

20th anniversary Platinum Plated (special edition, 18k nib), $450 

All the Townsend pens have a smooth resin grip, with a very slight taper towards the tip. There’s almost no step at all so it’s comfortable to hold no matter what kind of hold you have on the grip.

It’s a medium-weight pen at around 35g (without the converter). It’s just slightly heavier than the Pilot Vanishing Point, Lamy Studio, or TWSBI 580AL. Posted it feels really nice, only 21g of weigh in the body. A lot of the weight is in the cap, but the cap posts low on the body of the pen so it maintains its balance well. If you have smaller hands or grip really closely to the nib, you may notice a bit of back-weight when posted but it’s pretty manageable. 

There are fine and medium nib options in both the stainless steel and 18k gold nibs. These nibs write differently from each other. All of the nibs are pleasantly smooth, which I was encouraged to see. The steel nibs are fairly wet, not quite as gushing as some of the steel nibs on the other Cross pens (like the Botanica I reviewed last week). 

The gold nibs are wetter though, especially the medium, which is honestly more like a broad (and even writes sliiiiightly stub-like). The 18k gold is a bit soft, you can feel the nib bouncing a bit as you write. You can get a little line variation out of it if you want, flexing up maybe a nib size or two broader than its resting position. I wouldn’t go nuts doing this, but it’s there. 

The cap is a snap cap with a push-to-post on the back that actually snaps into place. It’s very firmly in place on either end, and while the cap is initially a little tight even, this is something that breaks in slightly over time. One thing worth pointing out on most of these pens, since they are such shiny metal pens, they’re somewhat of fingerprint magnets. If that kind of thing bothers you, then you’ll want to stick with the black or blue ones, don’t get the shiny metal ones. 

The Townsend, like all Cross pens, uses proprietary Cross cartridges (one black one is included with the pen). If you want to use bottled ink, then you’ll want to use the green Cross Townsend converter. Cross doesn’t normally include a converter with any of their pens, however we’ve elected to go ahead and include one as a free add-on when you buy one from our store. It’s an $8 converter that I just don’t feel you should have to pay when spending this much on a pen. You’re welcome 🙂 

Because you have both stainless steel and gold nibs, and regular as well as special edition models, the prices on the Townsend range pretty broadly. The lowest price one starts at $140 and the top-end 20th anniversary finish goes for $450. These definitely aren’t something I’d recommend as a starter pen for most people, but if you’re going for a stately, clean, and wet-writing fountain pen, these might be for you.

What do you think of the Cross Townsend? Let me know in the comments below.

 Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T04:03:54+00:00 July 15th, 2015|Pen Reviews|15 Comments
  • FraijoManda

    Very pretty! I just love the Edelstein bottles too.

  • Ceit

    Are you going to have the Star Wars editions?

    • Madigan

      We’re planning on it! 🙂

    • Starchix

      (faintly) Star. Wars. editions!?

  • johntdavis

    So glad to see y’all are carrying these. They’re wonderful pens. My Townsend is about 15-17 years old now. I got it new with a medium 18K gold nib (which is incredibly wet and springy as you describe), and it’s still writing great and one of my favorite pens.

    The body on mine is the sterling silver edition. I’m a bit sad to see they don’t make that one anymore–it’s a great look, and more understated than platinum or chrome steel. (Though I can certainly understand why–silver takes a bit more upkeep to keep it looking nice.)

    It’s also incredibly easy to clean, especially with a bulb syringe. I didn’t appreciate how great this was until I expanded my pen collection and realized how … not so great some pens are to clean.

    Are the nibs still friction fit?

    I’m actually eying the platinum one now. And that blue one, too. 🙂 I may have a problem. -_-

  • Otter

    Shiny silver and gold doesn’t really do it for me, but that Blue Quartz one is gorgeous! I think it’s great you’re including the converter. If I wasn’t planning to pick up the Botannica I would probably consider getting one of these. 🙂

  • Starchix

    I have the black lacquer with gold version, which I bought it 25-30 years ago at a local stationery store, after having a used a smaller, more slender Cross pen for several years and loving it. I passed that one along to a friend and then missed my Cross gold nib, so I splurged on a Townsend, for something like $120, maybe $140. I have actually had it tucked away in a drawer, empty, for a few years, since discovering the new breed fountain pens you guys carry: Lamy, Edison, Monteverde.

    In the process of playing around with and falling in love with so many great steel nibbers, I found that, although I adore the gold nibs on my Cross and Pelikan pens, I have come to really prefer a longer nib. I don’t know if there are long gold nibs, but the ones I have are all quite a bit shorter than any of the steel ones I have. I fantasize about finding a long gold nib — do they exist? My Vanishing Point pen does have a short gold nib, but because of the unique design, it doesn’t feel short as the ones on my other pens.

    I also find I enjoy using a lighter weight pen nowadays than I used to. The Townsend is a very solid weight in the hand, even a bit heavier than the Vanishing Point. I suspect my pen hand has morphed through the years, and as my hands get just a bit creaky in my middle years, I guess my preferences have changed. Many years ago I took a calligraphy course at the community college, and since then I have instinctively held the pen at a steeper angle than I originally learned as a child in school. My handwriting is a blend of printing, cursive and italic, and that steeper pen angle seems just right for my writing style.

    I think the black Townsend is an elegant pen and I think all important documents should be signed with such a pen! I am always shocked when I go to a bank or legal office, and am handed a cheap ballpoint to sign official papers! Tsk tsk tsk — what are people thinking in these declining times?

    I have to admit I am eyeing one of the Cross Botanicas! Though I do not need another pen. In the meantime, I have my Townsend out of its drawer and am going to fire it up with some excellent and important-looking ink color, and put it through its paces when I pay the bills later today.

    Bravo to you for including the converter — I agree — such a spiffy pen shouldn’t rely on cheap throwaway cartridges. I hope you sell many Townsends and other Cross pens. They are really excellent pens.

    • Tom Johnson

      Starchix, it seems that your quest for a longer gold nib may be because a longer nib are often softer writing than a short nib. I used Goulet’s Pen Plaza to compare several pens with gold nibs for nib length (and two Cross pens with steel nibs). The Platinum 3776 Century and the Pilot Custom 74 both have longer gold nibs than the Cross Bottanica or Classic Century (no Townsend photos available yet for this tool), the Pelikan 200 and Pelikan 600. I know Brian has said that the Custom 64 has a very soft writing gold nib. My 3776 Century is a nice soft writing nib. None are as soft as my Pilot Falcon, but that’s because it is made to flex.
      And, it has been a long time since I have needed another pen, but that has not stopped me yet!!

  • Corgi

    Which do you prefer, the fine or medium gold nib for everyday use? For important documents?

  • stu elman

    Hannah is the cat that Maru's owner got a year or so ago. She's also a tabby. You should see how well they get along. They play with each other a lot. They are so sweet.

  • 2nowBfree

    Thanks once again, Brian, for your review of another beautiful ink. I just wanted to also say thank you for showing this one on an ivory/creamy colored paper. You may have shown an ink on both colors before but I'm a newbie so I could easily have missed it. I became a fp enthusiast due to journaling (not to mention your informative and entertaining videos!) and I really enjoy an "aged" (?) look that you just can't get from a bright white background.

  • Russ

    I have a Townsend I’ve owned for about 15 years and the cap won’t stay on anymore, any tips to repair it?

  • As long as a true pen must be long.

  • Robert Crawford

    My daughter purchased one of these for me as a christmas present a year ago (2015). It remains on my desk and is a favorite. It writes well, starts reliably, and doesn’t skip. I have, and prefer, the medium nib. I use it with Noodler’s Lexington Grey.

    This one is on my desk and my Pilot vanishing point in my pocket. I will add that the Cross “medium” is broader than the Pilot “medium.”

  • Nemo

    I have the Cross Townsend Medalist. Can I exchange my steel nib (M), which is too wet for the paper I use, with a gold (F)? What I mean is: Are the nibs interchangeable?