|Posted: Mon 01 Sep, 2003 7:08 am Post subject: The Del Tin Scottish Baskethilt Broadsword
Del Tin Scottish Baskethilt Broadswod (Review by David Wilson)
THE DEL TIN SCOTTISH BASKET-HILT BROADSWORD
By David Wilson
"IF IT'S NOT SCOTTISH, IT'S CRRRAAAP!" Is a popular sentiment among
Scotiaphiles and folks of Scottish descent, possibly inspired by popular
comedian Mike Myers back in his SNL days. The popularity of this saying
also illustrates the popularity of Scottish Ethnic Pride, especially in
North America -- witness also the popularity of Scottish Festivals and
Highland Games, Burns Night Suppers, "Celtic" music, that popular
Scottish delicacy, Haggis (okay, so haggis isn't the most popular element
of Scottish pride in the U.S.A., but it should be!). It should come as no
surprise that this ethnic pride is reflected in the sword-collecting
community as well, where claymores, dirks, sgain dubhs, and basket-hilted
broadswords (often referred to -- quite properly -- as claymores, but
let's not open that can o' worms right now) rank in terms of devotion and
popularity fairly close to the cult of Nihonto. Especially so the
basket-hilt sword; a combination of beauty and brutality, with its wide
broadsword blade almost a throwback to Medieval times, its multi-faceted
and complex basket guard a display of the hammerman's art.
It is, quite probably, that complexity which is the reason why there are
so few qualitative basket-hilted swords available at affordable prices in
the modern sword market. In the sub-$500 range, there just are not a lot
of options for the aficionado of Scottish-styled basket-hilted
broadswords. They mostly originate in India, where quality is variable --
most Indian Scottish-styled swords are fine for display and dress use,
but you wouldn't want to charge a regiment of redcoats with 'em. The new
Hanwei-made basket-hilts look like a promising option for am affordable
basket-hilt, but they just hit the streets and quality is an unknown
factor as yet (they promise to be superior to the Windlass-made swords,
but by how much is not known now).
There was once, however, another option. An option which, like Bonnie
Prince Charlie, has vanished in the mists.....
A BLAST (or slash?) FROM THE PAST
From 1987 to 1992, the Del Tin Armi Antiche produced it's Basket-Hilt
Claymore exclusively for Museum Replicas Limited. And aye, a beautiful
thing she was, laddie -- a tri-fullered broadsword blade of CK55 steel,
with a "Glasgow" style basket which was designed by MRL's design team,
led by Eddie Floyd, based on several actual examples dating from the late
Jacobite era (1740's). The basket is lined by a red cloth liner -- Museum
Replicas stated that it was "velvet", but it's cloth on the example in my
collection. The hilt is wood wrapped with leather, reminiscent of the grip
of the DT 2121 -- ribbed with no wire wrapping. The whole thing is
assembled in the typical Del Tin fashion, by peening the tang, thereby
securing basket, hilt, and blade.
A REAL "ANDREA FERARA"?
On the earlier models of the Del Tin Basket-Hilted broadsword, the
central fuller was stamped with the name of Andrea Ferara. Andrea Ferara
was a highly regarded sword maker in Italy in the late 16th century (so
why do his blades keep showing up into the 18th century?). Ferara (Or
Ferrara, Ferarra, Feraro, or tons of different spellings) blades were
highly desired by the Scots (and others) for the quality of their temper
-- the name "Andrea Ferara" imparted an almost magical quality to a
blade, which was, of course, mostly good hype. And with the lax patent
laws, it would have been nigh impossible to find out if the blade was
truly made by "Andrea Ferara" or not. It is in this spirit, and for
increased authenticity, that the Del Tin swords were stamped with the
"Andrea Ferara" marking (and also appropriate, as both "Ferara" and "Del
Tin" are Italian names!).
In later production, the Ferara stamping was abandoned. Why this decision
was made isn't clear.
As mentioned previously, the basket is modeled after the "Glasgow" style,
probably on of the more common styles of basket hilt. It is of typical
form, except that the main knuckle guard is a plain bar and not pierced
as would be typical. I do not know how the basket was made; I am guessing
that it was cast, stamped or machined out flat and then folded around,
with some of the joints welded to keep them together. On my example, the
"Ram's Horns" are obviously welded to the rear- and side-knuckle
gaurds. The forward guards are also welded in place. These welds are not
obnoxiously obvious, they are quite clean. The piercings on the saltire
bar and side guard are fairly simple, consisting of round holes and
teardrops. The wrist guard is curled up at the end.
The "flat casting" method of construction is historical, many
basket-hilts were formed that way.
The basket of the Del Tin is noticeably smaller than the similarly-shaped
basket on the Windlass "Culloden" (WS/B24) basket hilt, but I don't find
it too terribly restricting. Someone with much larger hands might find it
WHAT THE CATALOG SAYS
I have, in my possession, Museum Replicas Limited catalogs from long ago
-- I know, I'm a packrat. I can't bring myself to throw out neat sword
pictures. Anyway, the catalogs I am referring to are numbers 17 to 20.
The DT Basket Hilt is item number #1-607. They proudly mention that this
sword is the reason why MRL was named "Armourers by appointment to the
78th (Fraser) Highland Regiment". This could be a British or Canadian
military unit; the only unit with that title that I could find on line is
a civilian Pipe Band out of Toronto, Canada.
The price listed in the catalog was $395 (and $6.95 for shipping and
handling). Not as inexpensive as the Indian-made basket-hilts, but still
quite under our theoretical $500 upper limit.
Let's compare the statistics, while we're at it:
Overall length -- listed as 39 1/2 inches. Close! I measured 39" on mine.
An earlier example, formerly in the Thomas McDonald Collection and now in
the possession of Webb Stewart measures the same as mine.
Blade -- 32 1/2 inches long and 1 3/4 inches wide. Again, this is pretty
close. I measured 33" on mine, and the older model is the same. I
measured 1 3/4" wide on my blade; Mr. Stewart says his blade's width is 1
5/8". The width for mine and Webb's swords is measured close to the
guard. I assume this is where MRL measured their examples.
Okay, now here's a corker, the weight. MRL reported that the sword weighs
a whopping 4 lbs., 6 oz!!!! Now that's an obese sword (actually, in the
book "Swords and Blades of the American Revolution" by Neumann, there is
one (antique, dates to the era) Scottish-styled basket hilt sword that is
4.4 lbs. in weight, however it is definitely the exception, as the rest of
the basket-hilts in that book average in at 2 to 2.5 lbs.)! That would
make the DT sword heavier than most of the Indian-made basket-hilt
swords. However, I can assure you that MRL's weight measurement is way
off (don't you wish I could say that for your bathroom scale?), and I
measured my example at 3 lbs., 4 oz. This is a bit heavier than most
historical examples, but is not an unmanageable weight. And it's a couple
ounces lighter than most Indian-made basket hilts. Webb Stewart weighed
his earlier-production sword in at 3.5 lbs., heavier than the later model
but not by much.
No scabbard was offered (As an aside, it fits the Windlass WS/B24's
scabbard quite well).
The sad part is that catalog #20 is the final appearance of the Del Tin
Basket-hilt Claymore. Catalog #21 introduces a "Basket-hilt Sword", which
was a backsword with a regimental-looking basket. The single-edge blade
was made in Spain by an unlisted maker. Anyway, this sword too was
eventually discontinued, to be replaced by broadswords made by Windlass
Del Tin continued providing blades to Museum Replicas for a while, some
of which found themselves as part of the "Beaknose-Ribbonhilt" Scottish
basket-hilt broadswords beginning in catalog #26. This sword disappears
after catalog #28, to replaced by a similar model made by Windlass
ONE OF THE LUCKY FEW
Yes, I must count myself among the fortunate few who actually possess one
of these wonderful basket hilted swords. The Scottish-styled Basket Hilt
sword is probably the most sought-after of the swords no longer made by
Del Tin, and as such is difficult to find. But it can be done! Mine is a
later production example, lacking the "Andrea Ferara" stamp, formerly in
the possession of premier bladesmith Vince Evans. Unfortunately, it has
been slightly modified -- a previous owner cut off the additional rear
guards before it came into Mr. Evan's possession. The previous owner did
this in order to make the sword easier to swing, and I must admit, it
does work! The sword is not scarred and it is difficult to tell that the
additional rear guards were ever there. Note that I'm not complaining too
much, for a couple reasons: First, not all historic Scottish basket-hilts
featured the additional rear guards, and second, even many period swords
were altered to improve handling characteristics, to include the removal
of half the basket! I'm just glad someone didn't turn it into a fence
post (ala the Culloden swords at Twickenham house). And the third reason
I am not complaining is that I got an extremely good deal for it!
SO, WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
I have mentioned early and late production examples. Are there any
differences, other than the lack of the "Andrea Ferara" stamp and the
weight, you ask? Not too many, really. The only other true difference
between my sword and Webb Stewart's sword is the length of the fullers.
The later model has shorter fullers. Have a look for yourself:
Early: 16 1/2 inch
Late: 12 inch
Early: 15 7/8 inch
Late: 11 1/4 inch
WILL YE NO COME BACK AGAIN?
At this point, the crystal ball is dark. Oh, sorry, that's my bowling
ball. Anyway, the Del Tin Scottish Basket Hilt sword has not been
produced since 1992, and in 1998, Fulvio discontinued his other
basket-hilt sword, the Italian Schiavona. At this point, Fulvio Del Tin
is quite busy enough producing his current line of swords and keeping up
with orders, which makes it unlikely that we'll see the Scottish Basket
Hilt in his production line up any time soon. However, he didn't discount
the idea, the last time I communicated with him.... so, there is a
glimmer of hope, albeit slight, that we might once again see a Del Tin
Scottish-style Basket-Hilt sword in regular production.
STATISTICS NOT PREVIOUSLY COVERED (taken from my late production sword):
Point of Balance: 4 3/4 inches
Center of percussion: 25 1/2 inches (approx.)
I would like to thank the following folks for making this article
Thomas MacDonald, Webb Stewart, Fulvio Del Tin, and Vince Evans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Wilson is a member of Clan Gunn USA, and yes, he really does like
Haggis, if it's "done right".
'Gott Bewahr Die Oprechte Schotten'
XX ANDRIA XX FARARA XX
Location: In a van down by the river
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
|Posted: Mon 01 Sep, 2003 12:20 pm Post subject:
Whoa! I haven't seen that one in a long time! Well, not since my old computer went TU and I lost my old files....
I still have my DT BH. I still consider it my First Vince Evans sword....
Thanks for the memories!
David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe
Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
|Posted: Sat 23 Jan, 2010 8:33 pm Post subject:
Hhmmmm, Just came across this old thread while doing some research. I actually own two of the Del Tin Baskethilted Broadswords. I actually think they made them earlier than reported in the article since I bought mine new from MRL while in college in the early eighties. It has the Andrea Ferrara inscription on it. I bought a scabbard at the same time that MRL sold for it actually.
My second one was purchased off e-bay within the last 2 years or so and has no inscription on the blade. They each have slight differences, being hand made. They are nice pieces of Del Tin history and fun to play with.
Honor, not Honors!
|Posted: Fri 31 Jan, 2014 2:08 pm Post subject:
Coincidentally, there's one on eBay right now. It ends around 10 pm PST on Sunday.
I hope that by posting this I'm not interfering with with the attempt of a member here to purchase it. If so, I apologize.
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