A Resource for Historic Arms and Armour Collectors
Del Tin 2123 Sword of Saint Galgano
A hands-on review by Björn Hellqvist
This rather unassuming sword is a bit of an ugly duckling. It doesn't have the elegance of its contemporary brethren, but everyone I know who has handled it has liked it. I bought my DT2123 after handling a customer's sword, and opted for a blunted blade suitable for reenactment combat. The reviewed sword is of the standard configuration, though. It is made by Del Tin Armi Antiche of Italy, a maker with over 40 years in the business, and known for good swords in the middle of the price range. As an occasional dealer in Del Tin swords, I order from him directly, allowing for the ten-month wait. As always, dealing with Del Tin is easy, but he prefers that customers buy from the retailers.
The background of this sword can be found in our article, The Sword in the StoneThe Legend of Saint Galgano, but in short, the sword is inspired by the sword of Saint Galgano, an Italian knight who lived in late 12th century who thrust his sword into the bedrock to prove a point. When I say "inspired", I mean that the hilt is faithfully replicated, but that most of the blade is an educated guess, as it is stuck in the rock... Compared to contemporary swords, it seems about right, though.
The original sword was developed in a time when the heaviest armour encountered was chainmail and helmets. It is of sufficient length for mounted combat, which called for a blade with a couple of extra inches for better reach.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Del Tin Armi Antiche of Italy.
This sword handles well, and compares favourably to Del Tin's bestseller, the 2121; a classical knightly sword and one of the better-handling of the DT single-handers. I think the DT2123 handles somewhat better in dry handling, despite the point of balance being virtually the same. The DT2123 is 3 ounces (80 grams) lighter, which might explain the difference. There's a slight blade-heaviness, but that's to be expected in swords of this type.
Fit and Finish
The sword is finished in the usual Del Tin style: a semi-polished, satin-finish blade, steel grey guard and pommel cast in tool steel, and a leather-wrapped grip. The blade is coated with a protective lacquer, which can be removed with acetone. With some polishing with a Scoth-brite pad, it will acquire a nice finish. Make sure to oil the blade, though, to protect it from humidity and fingerprints. The edge is Del Tin's standard semi-sharp 0.5 mm edge (due to Italian law, one cannot own a sharpened sword wihout a special permit), and will take some work to get sharp. The leather wrap is brown leather thong, tightly done and comfortable to hold.
As for historical accuracy, I must say that what we know of the sword above ground, the DT2123 sticks very close. The dimensions of the original are: height of grip and pommel is 144 mm, the guard width is 172 mm, the blade width is 43 mm. With the Del Tin sword measuring 147 mm, 173 mm, and 42 mm, respectively, it is correct almost to the millimeter.
If one is looking for a robust, homely sword that is more the weapon of a man-at-arms than a rich knight, this is it. Ideal for a realistic 12th century costume or on the wall next to a book-case full of books on the Crusades, this sword conveys an image of the knightly world before it became too refined. It is an ugly duckling, but one that is very easy to like.
About the Author
Björn Hellqvist is a Swedish optometrist with an interest in historical European swords.
As stated previously, I own a reenactment version of this sword. It sports a beefed-up DT2121 blade, which makes it more blade-heavy. Despite that, it handles well, and will probably see a bit of action in the years to come.
Photographer: Björn Hellqvist