Early thoughts on the Cross Bailey Light fountain pen.

I am always on the look-out for anything new in fountain pens on the high street. Today in John Lewis Brent Cross, my friendly pen-pusher showed me a new Cross pen and took a few off the rack in different colours.

This is a new version of the familiar Cross Bailey, but in plastic, rather than lacquered metal, to save weight and costs. It is £20.00 as opposed to about £50 for the full fat version.

Cross Bailey Light, in plastic.

I do not need any more fountain pens, particularly cartridge-converter pens, with medium, steel nibs. I have got that covered in my accumulation. Nevertheless, I was intrigued and excited at the prospect of a Cross pen for £20.00, with lifetime guarantee. I was also feeling a little virtuous having flushed and cleaned three of my eighteen currently inked pens in my pen cups earlier this morning.

The store had these in grey, white, turquoise and pink. I gather that there are also black and blue versions available. I liked the grey best and bought one. It is a lovely classic, battleship grey and a nice neutral colour which would suit a range of ink colours.

Bailey Light uncapped.

Leaving the shop, I couldn’t wait to open the packaging, have a closer look at the pen and ink it up. The nib looked to be in good shape. I have had mixed experiences with Cross steel nibs. Sometimes they are great, with even tines, and a good well-lubricated smooth ink flow; but at other times, you get a dry one and it can be hard to work on these stiff, steel nibs to improve flow. Another issue that I have had with Cross Baileys, is the stiffness of the caps. I have a shiny chrome Medalist, which was all but unusable because of the slipperiness of the finish and the difficulty in pulling the cap off.

Happily, today’s experience was entirely satisfactory. First impressions are that the pen appears to be the same size as a standard Bailey. There are no obvious shortcuts on the furnishings and you have a metal cap finial and a strong metal pocket clip. There is a wide cap band, for decoration and strength. The cap pulls off easily, with a sensible amount of force.

With cap removed, there are three metals rings on the pen. Particularly welcome in the Bailey, is the wide barrel and wide grip section, compared to, say the Cross Century II. There are no cap threads and no step from barrel to section.

Bailey standard and Bailey Light (below)

Unscrewing the barrel, there was one Cross black cartridge included. The pen will require Cross’s proprietary cartridges or a Cross converter (not included). I found that the Bailey Light accepts the non-threaded converter (whereas the standard Bailey is threaded, to take Cross’s screw-in converters but accepts both types). Another difference from the standard Bailey, is that the Light has no production date code, a slight disappointment but hardly a problem. My standard Bailey is dated 0315 and the slippery Medalist, 1014.

Bailey Light, with a non-threaded converter (not included in price).

Inserting the supplied black cartridge, I am glad to report that the pen soon started up and wrote smoothly, out of the box. A pleasant relief.

Size and weight.

The Bailey Light measures around 137mm closed, or 125mm open. Posted, it is around 152mm. The pen weighs a total of around 20g, comprised as to 13g for the uncapped pen and 7g for the cap.

Comparing the standard Bailey, at 30.5g, the Light is about one third lighter. The dimensions, capped or uncapped are about the same except that, when the cap is posted, the standard Bailey is 142mm and the Light is a centimetre longer, at 152mm.

Likes and dislikes.

Accepting that I have owned this pen for only a few hours, I am favourably impressed with it so far. I like the classic, vintagey grey colour. I like that it is a good sized pen and so comfortable in the hand. No annoying facets (Ah-hem, Lamy Safari). It is long enough for a quick note unposted but generally I prefer to use it posted. The cap posts deeply and securely. Being so light, but having a strong pocket clip, it is an ideal shirt pocket pen. The lifetime guarantee is a good thing, a sign that Cross is confident in its product. I don’t envisage having to make any claims under this and for £20.00 it would probably not be worth it, but it is nice to have.

The cap shuts snuggly, with minimal wobble. It looks to have some sort of inner cap or lining at the far end but I have not had the pen long enough to test for hard starts.

My only minor negatives are the absence of a production date code and the fact that threaded converters do not fit.

I prefer the feel of this pen to my old Cross Aventura, which had a shiny chrome section. I think I may find myself using it more than the standard Bailey, as a lightweight, pocket pen.

At the moment I am using the black cartridge and I have a few of these in stock but am looking forward to perhaps pairing the grey pen with a nice Burgundy, green or brown ink. At a pound a gram, I think this pen represents excellent value.

Comfortable, stepless, threadless, facetless section.

15 thoughts on “Early thoughts on the Cross Bailey Light fountain pen.

  1. If it weren’t for the Cross cartridges, which can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look, this would sound like a great starter fountain pen, rivalling the Pilot MR/Metropolitan, Lamy Safari, and Pelikan Pellikano.

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  2. hi, did you not have massive issues with the converter? it fits in the bottom half but then the top half wont screw back on! any thoughts?

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    1. No I have not had any issues. I now have six of these pens (oops!) and have fitted a Cross converter in five of them. The other, I keep for use with Cross cartridges. The Cross Bailey Light accepts the push in converter, not the screw in version. I don’t quite understand why you are having a problem.

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      1. oh. my. god. i am so happy i left this commnt. i had no idea they jammed cartidges up there. now the converter fits and i am so happy. i am such a fan of this pen i was heartbroken not to use it with ink.
        thank you so much!!! merry christmas

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your blog, and your thoughts in particular on the Cross Bailey Light shared here.

    My only experience with a fountain pen is the disposable Pilot Varsity. I’ve been using it at work, and the experience has made me interested in more fountain pen use. It seems to bring beauty and humanity, even if in a small way, to the inhuman tasks I’m required to perform at my job.

    Economy of writing space is key for me in jotting notes or whatnot. While I generally like how the Varsity writes, the medium nib lines are too thick for what I’m doing. Do you have any thoughts on whether the Cross Bailey Light fine or extra fine nib might be a good solution?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi John,
      Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.
      If you do not yet own any fountain pens, other than the disposable Pilot Varsity, then a whole world of pens awaits you! I do not know where you are based but if possible I would recommend that you visit a shop selling fountain pens to take a look at the range available and to get some ideas as to what you like. Certainly, if you find the nib of the Pilot Varsity to be too broad for you, then you may prefer a Fine or Extra Fine nib. However, these are harder to find and you may need to buy from an online seller where there is a choice of nib sizes.
      What you decide to buy will depend upon your own personal preferences and your budget.
      I am in London, UK and the Cross Bailey Lights that I have bought all have a Medium nib, which suits me. I have not seen them for sale with any other nib option.
      For an “entry level” pen, priced up to £20.00 you might take a look at the Kaweco Perkeo, the Lamy Nexx, or the Faber-Castell Grip. Again, they are mostly sold in stores with the Medium nib but you can sometimes find a Kaweco Perkeo with a Fine nib.
      There are lots of matters to consider when chosing your first pen, but the best advice I think would be to visit a good stationery shop and get some advice in person.
      Good luck!

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  4. Hi, Thank you for the wonderful write-up. I will be buying this pen soon. Purchasing this converter can be an issue as it isn’t readily available. Could you kindly share the model number or link for the same converter? Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ron,
      Thanks for your enquiry and kind comments.
      The Cross Bailey Light takes the push-in converter, Cross model number 8751. This converter does not have screw threads. The ink reservoir is green or clear.
      (For completeness, the other type of converter is model number 8756, which has screw threads and is orange or amber or smoke grey).
      To confuse matters, the Cross Bailey Light may also accept the screw fit converter too but it will NOT screw in securely as the Cross Bailey Light does not have screw threads.
      I am a big fan of the Cross Bailey Light. I use them regularly at home and at work. I have bought them in bricks and mortar stores where I can try to examine the nib through the packaging first. I now have six of these pens and all of them write well.

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  5. Hello, Thank you for such a well informed review and comparison.
    I am looking to buy the standard Cross Bailey Black Lacquer Fountain Pen , is there any incident of the black paint wear off with time?
    Please let me know, planing to buy one.
    Thank you and Regards

    Liked by 1 person

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