Sunday, July 24, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 406

A little background to my new acquisition:
Last year, Stuart bought a lovely Cross 'Apogee' fountain pen (that he reviewed here) on closeout from the Vancouver Pen Shop. I'd seen the 'Apogee' when it came out 17 years ago, but I really didn't care for the design so I didn't rush out and buy one merely because it was on clearance (great restraint on my part - ha!). Fast forward to a recent discussion Stuart and I had about nib sizes, in which Stuart mentioned that his Cross 'Apogee' had a very small nib. I looked up some photos of the 'Apogee' online....and found that I really liked its design now! It's like that with some songs---you're not sure if you like them the first time you hear them (because they sound different/odd/unique) ...but later on, they become some of your favourites.

Anyway, after I saw photos of the pen, I went looking to buy one online ... only to discover that they aren't cheap (even the second-hand ones)! Oh man, I should have listened to Stuart and bought one at the Van Pen Shop last year
😑😑... While browsing on eBay, I found a used pen that the seller described as a "Cross Fountain Pen as in the photo" (ie. no specific model name), adding "No ink included" (which was fine with me) and the more ominous-sounding line "I think the nib will need a good cleaning" (I was really worried about it being gummed up with India Ink).  The lone photo provided by the seller didn't show the front of the pen or the the front of the nib, so I wasn't sure what condition it was in (or if it even had a Cross nib on it)...

Here's that eBay photo:

(photo above taken directly from the eBay auction)

I immediately recognized it as a Cross 'Apogee' based on the length of its clip and its wide cap band, so I put in a single bid... and subsequently won it for $66.72 CAD, including shipping!

And here's what arrived:

(~please click on images to enlarge~)

The pen was in great shape, and the nib just had some old ink on it that wiped off very easily. It was second-hand and didn't come with a Cross presentation box, but that's ok--I have enough of those!

I hadn't really done extensive research on the eBay 'Apogee' model prior to bidding on it, so I just assumed that it had an 18K gold nib like Stuart's 'Apogee' (even though its trim was different). Well, it turns out that the pen I won is actually a Cross 'Apogee Medalist' model with a steel nib. The good news is that it was a Special Edition that was available for a limited time only! Oh, and the term 'Medalist' refers to Cross writing instruments with polished chrome and 23K gold-plated appointments (trim). The original 'Apogee' pens (like Stuart's) came out in late 2005, but I'm not sure when the 'Apogee Medalist' special editions were first released.

Fun fact: the Cross 'Apogee Medalist' fountain pen was one of the gifts in the luxury gift bags given out to nominees in the 2016 BAFA awards, Britain's equivalent of the Academy Awards.

According to, "Mark Knight, the Apogee designer, intended the new line to be a "unique combination of old and new elements"...

 It's a beautiful polished chrome fountain pen with bright 23K gold plated trim and a wonderful barley engraving on the pen's body that reminds me of Wahl's all-metal machine-engraved pencils from the 1920s. The shape of the barrel is a bit unusual in that it tapers quite a bit towards the end; the cap also tapers, but not nearly to the same degree. The barrel's steep taper allows the pen to post very deeply, which is great if you prefer using the pen posted.

The pen is 14 cm (5.5 inches) long capped, 12.7 cm (5 inches) from nib tip to barrel end, and 14.2 cm (5.6 inches) posted.
The pen weighs 39.9 grams empty (17.5 g cap weight + 22.4 g barrel wt.), which is a bit heavier than my Cross 'Townsend' Lustrous Chrome fountain pen (37.2 grams). The 'Apogee' is fairly well-balanced when posted, but a teeny bit back-heavy. I use the pen both posted and unposted, depending on my mood, but I do tend to hold pens a bit higher up the barrel.

My pen was second-hand and it didn't come with a converter, but it takes Cross' proprietary cartridges, an old-style screw-in Cross converter (the orange one) or Cross' newly-designed push-in (clear) converter.

The original chrome 'Apogee' (ie. the one with the 18K nib) has the same engraving pattern as my 'Apogee Medalist'. The engraving was done on the Cross Engelsberger engraving machine, according to

The engraving is so finely done that you might not even notice it if you ran your fingers along the cap and barrel! I am very impressed with the craftsmanship...

The pen's distinctive wide cap band is engraved with the Cross name and " ~ EST. 1846 ~ "
(and that's not tarnish on the cap band, just a reflection)

The long, spring-activated clip (with the Cross name tastefully engraved on it) is probably the first design feature most people notice about the 'Apogee'. I love the elegant shape of the clip and how its (very cool) pointed end lies nearly flush with the cap. The clip works well, but it requires the user to push down on the top of the clip to engage it. This doesn't bother me because I'm used to doing that with Conklin's rocker clips, so I don't find it inconvenient. Some users, though, might prefer a clip that just requires a one-handed operation.

The cap is friction-fit and caps very tightly, so it does take some effort to uncap it (on the plus side, it's not likely to fall off!). It caps with a reassuring click, and I've had no nib-drying-out problems with the pen so far. The outer cap lip is designed so that when the pen is capped, the drop-off from cap to barrel is very smooth. The inner part of the cap lip is very smooth too, with no rough edges that I can detect. Both of these features show careful attention to detail -- well done, Cross! Neither the cap finial nor the barrel end have any adornments, but I don't think that's necessary with such an ornate pen body.

The section is made of metal with a glossy, black lacquer finish and is tapered, but I don't find my fingers slipping on it. It has a maximum diameter of about 12 mm, which is a very comfortable size for my grip. Another thing that makes it so comfortable to hold is the lack of a step-down from barrel to section (you can't see it in the photo directly above, but you can in the photo above it)-- another nice design feature.

The gold-coloured stainless steel nib is nicely engraved with a plume-like design, and the nib width ("M" in this case) is engraved on its side. My lone complaint about the pen is the same one that Stuart had---the size of the nib. Why Cross didn't put a larger nib on such a pretty pen is beyond me... It's even more annoying because my pen's Medium nib is a very smooth, wet writer with no flow issues. I have no complaints about the way it writes--it just glides across paper (rough paper or smooth paper) like butter on a hot griddle.

Above: Here's something I discovered during my research for this blog post -- the pen's date of manufacture is marked on the section! Mine has a production date of "0714", which translates to July 2014 (Happy 8th birthday to my pen! 😊)

(Another shot of the cap, but in brighter light...)

The Cross 'Apogee' is a very well-made, fountain pen with a unique design, a lovely engraved body, and a wonderful steel nib. I'm so glad I took a chance on this pen, based on a really vague auction description + a not-so-great photo. I think I got a great deal -- a new one would cost about $250 CAD from an online retailer (the ballpoints are ~$155 CAD and the rollerballs ~$205 on Amazon) and I paid one-quarter of that for my gently-used one. May you be as lucky with your own eBay bidding as I was with mine!

Ok, one last photo...This is not a real Cross 'Apogee' model---I was just playing around with some photo editing, to see what the pen would look like with rose gold trim (and I like it!)

~ Photos (except where noted) & review by Maja ~ 

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