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Agio

Maker: Sheaffer.

In my examination of the Javelin, I refer to it as a Cartridge pen which has grown up and gotten a good job.  The Agio is a similar evolution of the Cartridge line, but in more of an “office casual” mode; it may not have gotten a job, but been promoted by dad.  The lineage is a lot easier to see with this pen, as it is essentially the same shape as the late form Cartridge pen, although it is rather longer and has a more sleek section.  The point and feed are exactly the same, although there’s rather less of them showing above the top of the section.  It seems that the Agio was brought in to supercede the Fashion, which was not using the familiar Sheaffer parts.

It is somewhat unfortunate that the Agio is aimed at competing in the lower end of the current “average” pen market, going head-to-head with pens like Waterman’s Hémisphère.  I think it would probably make a serious splash if it were to drop a price bracket, competing with the popular-price pens from Germany,  many of which are a sizable step up from “school” pen.  Sheaffer has hardly left that end of the market empty, as there are several stages between the VFM and the Agio, but I’m not entirely convinced that the pen is demonstrably worth as much as is being asked of it.  I have similar misgivings about the other companies’ pens it is competing with, though, so this is probably more a manifestation of my own curmudgeonliness than a clever observation of the market.

That is not to say it’s a bad pen.  The several decades of experience with the point and feed mean that it is a deeply reliable pen.  There is an interesting texturing to the section which provides grip without the strange squishiness one finds in the Javelin; “agio” is, as Google informs me, the Italian word for ease or comfort, and it is applicable.  There are some interesting finishes, and the general lack of interaction between cap and barrel make it look like they’ll last reasonably well.  The clip is actually a much simpler object than that on the Javelin (which I keep referring to because they entered Sheaffer’s line-up at about the same time); it is a mere flat, bent piece of metal, unlike the cheaper pen’s traditionally-Sheaffer spring-loaded mechanism.  I don’t necessarily rate this as a negative, though, as it’s a very resilient bit of flat metal, which allows the clip to pass over extremely thick cloth without danger or a loss of hold.  If it is meant as competition for the Hémisphère, it is at least equipped for the job.

Without considering trim and finish, there are two distinct models of Agio.  One is a standard-length version, while the other is the Agio Compact.  Like the long-ago Compact and Tuckaway models, this is a version meant specifically for tight spaces; Sheaffer suggests it will be at home in wallets and handbags, by which they avoid any directly sexist talk of a “Lady’s pen”, but it is clearly aimed in that direction, and in this further suggests the pen’s being meant as a replacement for the Fashion, the latter having had a similar purse/wallet version.  Those with a functional sense of history and a somewhat old-style mode of dress might also call it a vest-pocket pen.  The only disadvantages to the Agio Compact appear to be the slight difficulty of handling a short pen, moderated by posting, and the difficulty of finding a converter.

In looking for weaknesses in this model, the most likely failure point will be the clicker mechanism which holds the cap to the section.  There are reports of these no longer gripping, which in a pen that cannot be more than ten years old are rather troubling.

Production Run: 2002 – present.

Cost When New: Depending on trim (and less on size), between $60.00 and $105.00.

Size: 13.2 cm long capped, 14.8 cm posted, 12.6 cm uncapped; the Compact is shorter, of course, but until I get one in hand I can’t be more specific.

Point: Steel.

Body: Brass, with lacquer and plated finishes

Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 1.1 ml

Sheaffer Agio, of the non-compact sort. This ivory finish is evidently discontinued.

 

 

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