A.T.Cross has been a Rhode Island maker of pencils and pens since 1858, but made stylographic pens, not fountain pens, for the first 80 years. The stylographic pen was the precursor to the ballpoint pen, according to the Cross website. A. T. Cross had at least 21 registered patents and developed "firsts" in the writing instrument field. Dating a Cross pen is difficult, as the company has no dating system conveyed on the pen.
Check your Cross pen with a magnifying glass at the clip area and just above the clip to read the information as to where the pen was made. U.S.A. is the location for older pens. The fountain pen was not made by Cross until about 1938, reports Vintage Pens website. London Luggage website shows the first fountain pen made about 1930. This fountain pen had black bands, and some collectors refer to this as the "Art Deco" Cross pen.
Remove the satin lining and find the Cross User Guide for your pen. There is a copyright date on the User Guide that will give an approximate date of manufacture.
Look for Cross Ireland pens. These pens date sometime after 1980. London Luggage website shows 1982 as the date pens first manufactured outside the United States became available.
Identify the name of your Cross pen. Each of the Cross pens has a name like Signet, Solo, Century or Townsend. The name can be the key to dating the pen, since certain names were produced in certain years. Pen forums and shows are great places to seek identification. Once you know the name of the pen, refer to a website like London Luggage to date the pen by manufacturing dates.
Find the engraved citation on the nib or point of your Cross pen if your pen is a fountain pen. Some points are 14k gold and are older points, and some have the country of origin of the pen. If your pen is marked Cross China on the clip, just above the clip or on the nib, it is a recent pen. The 2003 Cross Annual Report indicates that Cross was in Rhode Island to stay, but all indications are that outsourcing was occurring at that time. The report refers to "our transition of an overseas sourcing model" and "the first products scheduled to move offshore during the second half of 2004." Current Cross pen production comes from China.