A. T. Cross Company

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A.T. Cross Company, LLC
Company typePrivate
IndustryWriting implements
Founded1846; 178 years ago (1846) in Providence, US
FounderRichard Cross
Headquarters299 Promenade Street, Providence, RI, USA[1]
Area served
Key people
Robert Baird (CEO)[2]
ProductsFountain, ballpoint, and rollerball pens, mechanical pencils
RevenueIncrease US$ 158.3 million (2010)
Increase US$ 9.32 million (2010)
Increase US$ 6.37 million (2010)
Total assetsIncrease US$ 144.63 million (2010)
Total equityIncrease US$ 72.47 million (2010)
OwnerTransom Capital Group, LLC[2]
Number of employees
105 in Rhode Island; 830 worldwide[1]

A.T. Cross Company, LLC is an American manufacturing company of writing implements, based in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1846, it is one of the oldest pen manufacturers in the world. Cross' products include fountain, ballpoint, and rollerball pens, mechanical pencils and refills. The company also manufactures accessories for those goods such as cases and wallets.

The company has also owned Sheaffer, another pen manufacturer, since 2014.[3] In August 2022, the Sheaffer brand was sold to the William Penn company.[4]


The company was founded in 1846 in Providence, Rhode Island. It initially manufactured gold and silver casings for pencils, reflecting the Cross family's history as jewelers. The company was founded by Richard Cross, who passed it on to his son, Alonzo T. Cross.

The company developed many innovative new writing instruments, including forerunners of the modern mechanical pencils, and the earliest stylographic pens. In the 1960s, the company moved its headquarters to a large facility (about 155,000 square feet)[5] in Lincoln, Rhode Island.[1]

After trading on the NASDAQ for five years (under the now-defunct symbol ATX), the company was sold in 2013 to Clarion Capital Partners, LLC,[6] but it retained its headquarters in Lincoln, Rhode Island.[5] The Sheaffer pen company was acquired by A.T. Cross in 2014.[7]

In May 2016, with its headquarters in Lincoln becoming too large, the company accepted a set of tax credits and incentives in exchange for moving its headquarters to Providence, Rhode Island.[5] The new headquarters, measuring about 4200 square feet,[5] is located at The Foundry, the former Brown and Sharpe Manufacturing Company Complex at 299 Promenade Street in Providence.[1] Most employees were moved to the new location by October 2016.[1] In January 2021, the company moved within the complex to 295 Promenade Street. This was a significantly smaller building, as the company moved to a hybrid work from home scheme due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8]

On November 16, 2017, Transom Capital Group, LLC announced that it had bought the assets of A.T. Cross Company.[9][2]

Presidential pens[edit]

President Joe Biden signs his first executive order upon taking office with a black Cross Century II Rollerball[10]

Cross has been an official supplier of pens to the White House since at least the 1970s. The pens used to sign legislation are often given out as souvenirs to those who attend the bill signings.[11]

While an official Cross–White House program was begun under president Bill Clinton, the tradition goes back to at least the administration of Gerald Ford.[11] All presidents from Ronald Reagan to Joe Biden[10][11][1] signed legislation using Cross pens; it is unknown if earlier presidents did so.[1] Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton favored the Cross Townsend model; Obama later switched to the Century II model in black lacquer, with black medium point refill.[11]

The Trump administration placed an initial order for 150 Cross Century II pens in January 2017.[11] Sometime before November 2018, Trump broke with tradition and ceased using the Cross pen, saying "it was a horrible pen, and it was extremely expensive."[12] Thereafter, he signed documents using a customized Sharpie marker manufactured by Newell Brands.[12] Joe Biden returned the tradition of Cross Pens to the White House, favoring the same model as Obama, the Century II Rollerball in a black lacquer finish with 23-karat gold-plated appointments.[10] Biden is reported to use the felt-tip refill unit.[10]


Fountain pen, with the distinctive "Cross" lettering on its nib
Obama's Townsend in black lacquer

Cross is well known for its writing instrument lines, beginning with mechanical pencils, and it produced the first stylographic pens (a technological forerunner of the modern ballpoint pen) in 1879. The current product line includes fountain pens, ballpoint pens, gel pens, and mechanical pencils.[13] The first Cross fountain pens were likely produced in 1930, but not again until the 1980s.

Cross writing instruments are generally sold in the mid-range of the market, rather than the extreme luxury end.

Most Cross writing instruments are now made in China, although some of the work for customized pens for presidents and politicians is done in New England.[1] The company also manufactures a range of wristwatches, cufflinks, desk accessories and leather goods such as pen cases, portfolios, and other items often targeted at the gift market.

In late 1997, Cross and IBM teamed up to introduce a digital writing pad, called the CrossPad, which was discontinued in 2004.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Bramson, Kate (21 December 2016). "A.T. Cross writes its own ticket in move back to Providence". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 20 May 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Transom Capital Acquires A.T. Cross Company". www.cnbc.com. Archived from the original on 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  3. ^ Company history Archived 2020-09-25 at the Wayback Machine on Sheaffer.com
  4. ^ Khan, Sobia (9 August 2022). "William Penn buys iconic American Brand Sheaffer". The Economic Times. Archived from the original on 2 November 2022. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Bramson, Kate (9 May 2016). "A.T. Cross getting $1.9 million in state incentives for move to Providence". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Clarion Capital Partners". Archived from the original on 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  7. ^ "A.T. Cross Company Completes the Acquisition of Sheaffer". www.prnewswire.com. Archived from the original on 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  8. ^ "Cross Customer Service, Customer Care, Customer Support | Cross". www.cross.com. Archived from the original on 2021-07-25. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  9. ^ "A.T. Cross purchased by Los Angeles private equity firm". providencejournal.com. Archived from the original on 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  10. ^ a b c d Parker, Edward (21 January 2021). "Biden used pen made by Providence company to sign executive orders Wednesday". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021. Biden used a Cross Century II Rollerball pen. It had a black lacquer finish with 23-karat gold-plated appointments.
  11. ^ a b c d e Klein, Betsy (27 January 2017). "Trump sticks with tradition for presidential pen choice". CNN. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  12. ^ a b Hanbury, Mary (16 November 2018). "'Make it look rich': Trump told Sharpie to create a custom pen for him to sign important documents". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 6 November 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  13. ^ "Cross Pens & Pencils - Official site". Archived from the original on 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
  14. ^ "CrossPad product support". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-04-08.

External links[edit]