It didn’t take long for President Donald Trump to start running out of the custom-made Cross pens he uses to sign executive orders.
“I think we’re going to need some more pens, by the way,” he said on Inauguration Day four weeks ago. Trump was handing them out as souvenirs for members of Congress who attended his first signing ceremony, joking to the lawmakers that “the government is getting stingy, right?”
The White House was expecting its latest batch of 350 of the gold-plated pens by Friday. They were shipped Wednesday by the 170-year-old New England company that has supplied its fancy pens to at least seven U.S. presidents. But Trump might be the first to make brandishing a pen and showing off each newly signed order such a definitive part of his governing style.
“He absolutely, positively, had to have them by Friday,” said Andy Boss, who manages business gift sales for A.T. Cross Co., based in Providence, Rhode Island. “My guess is he’s running low.”
Cross pens have been supplied to presidents at least since the Gerald Ford administration, said Boss, whose grandfather bought the writing instruments manufacturer a century ago. The company, sold to a private equity firm in 2013, was once a major Rhode Island employer but now makes most of its pens in China. It still tries to put an American imprint on the presidential pens, which are lacquered and engraved in China but go through their final assembly in Rhode Island using a mix of domestic and foreign parts.
President Barack Obama used the company’s pricier Townsend model to sign the Affordable Care Act in 2010 but later switched to the slimmer Century II, the same felt-tipped model wielded by Trump when he signed an action last month expressing his intent to repeal Obama’s health care law.