Steve Erenberg likes to collect strange things. Artists' mannequins, early radio equipment, steam engines, electrostatic devices, globes, "scary scientific stuff," classroom demonstration models and more. About thirty years ago, Erenberg, who runs the Industrial Anatomy blog and Radio-Guy, a CollectorsWeekly.com Hall of Fame website, started to collect masks with his wife: Tribal masks, medical masks, scientific masks. Deep in his collection are a pair of masks that Erenberg convincingly argues are the inspiration for two of George Lucas' famous creations from the Star Wars films: C-3PO, a protocol droid designed to serve humans, and Darth Vader, one of the most well-known villains in popular culture.
Writing this week as a special guest blogger on CollectorsWeekly.com, "a resource for people who love antique and vintage stuff," Erenberg introduced his masks. "This pair of early rescue masks, shown above, dates from between the mid-1800s and World War I," he explained. "They look a bit familiar, right? Almost a 100 years [sic] before Darth Vader and C-3PO hit the big screen in Star Wars in 1977, these two smoke helmets were worn by firefighters carrying our [sic] rescues in smoke-logged buildings."