The Cross Calais fountain pen is a member of the Calais line of pens which features rollerballs and ballpoints as well, and is a mid-level line of writing instruments.
Prices for the line range from $30-50 direct from Cross, but they can often be found cheaper if you shop around. This particular model, the Calais Fountain Pen All Black sells for about $20 at certain office supply stores. It is designed in the US but manufactured in China.
Learn more about the history of A.T. Cross and see our Cross pen reviews.
Cross Calais Fountain Pen Review
The Cross Calais fountain pen features a brass body and cap, metal end pieces, a metal pocket clip, and a plastic grip section. It also features a medium point steel nib engraved with Cross’ Lion logo.
The pen ships with black ink cartridges but a converter (item #8751) is available for about $8-$10 so you can use your own bottled ink.
The ink cartridges Cross sells for this pen are rather small compared to most common fountain pen cartridges. They measure 41 mm in length and 8 mm in diameter. They are similar in size to Standard International (short) cartridges with measure 39 mm in length and 7 mm in diameter.
This particular pen is an interesting variant in the Calais line in that it features an all-black design. Most of the pens in this line feature blue, black, red, or chrome finishes with chrome accents. This pen features a matte black finish with black accents. The accents include the clip, end pieces, and a band that sits just behind where the pen body meets the grip section.
The clip is also embossed with the Cross name. It’s a very sleek and stylish design choice and a nice change of pace from Cross’ standard finishes. It also features a black nib which really adds to the aesthetic appeal.
The other unique aspect of this pen is its availability. So far it is an Office Depot/Office Max exclusive, both online and in-store. I haven’t even been able to find it on Cross’ own website. The packaging lists an item number of AT0116F-22MJ/19 and an MSRP of $47, however in-store and online it sells for $20.
Cross Calais Writing Experience
Writing with the Calais fountain pen is a pleasurable experience. The nib is smooth with the tiniest bit of feedback, which I like quite a bit. The included black Cross ink performs rather well and is dark, with nice color saturation although it doesn’t dry very fast on coated papers, like Rhodia.
The pen feels good in the hand and is nicely weighted at 32.6 grams. While the cap will post, I prefer to use it un-posted to keep the overall length down and to not make the pen too top heavy.
The medium nib is a nice choice and performs surprisingly well even with small handwriting like mine. Like many fountain pens, extended writing with the Cross Calais is excellent due to the little amount of pressure required for writing. It has also been very dependable with its starts, even without being used for a couple of days.
My only problem with the pen — it’s a small one — is that the threads on the grip to connect the pen body are plastic. I would have preferred to see metal threading but, for its price point, I really can’t complain as this part doesn’t have any effect on writing performance. I only worry that over-tightening might lead to damage and a loose pen body.
Cross Calais Fountain Pen Alternatives
Similar pens in this class would be the Lamy Safari or Vista, the Parker Jotter fountain pen, the Pilot Metropolitan, and the Tswbi Eco. The Jotter fountain pen would be the closest.
While I have no problem recommending the Calais to others, there are better choices. The Pilot Metropolitan and Lamy Safari being the first picks. These are tried-and-true and positively reviewed fountain pens all over the internet, including here at Unsharpen.com. The Twsbi Eco would be next on the list being a bit more expensive and is also highly reviewed and a terrific value.
If you’re a fan of Cross Pens, like myself, and the all-black finish is appealing, then don’t hesitate and get this pen. My only suggestion is to not pay more than about $20 for it.
Cross Calais Fountain Pen Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Pen Type||Fountain Pen | Cartridge/Converter|
|Barrel Color||Black, Blue, Red, Silver|
|Body Diameter (mm)||12.8|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||11.0|
|Country of Origin||China|
|Capped? Retractable?||Capped - Snap On|
|Length Capped / Retracted (cm)||13.8|
|Length Uncapped (cm)||13.1|
|Nib Color||Silver, Black|