Robert Lesser's passion for collecting began with comic memorabilia and pulp art during his time at the University of Chicago (U of C). A New York native, Lesser moved to Chicago in the 1950's, where he attended U of C and worked for the Institute for Nuclear Studies. He was a South side resident for 17 years. Lesser studied English literature and trained to be a bibliographer. This training allowed him to become an expert on editions, dates and authorship of books and other writings, which he discovered gave him an advantage to collecting comic memorabilia. Comic books, pulp art and comic-character toys, were the beginning of a life-long collecting quest. After moving back to New York City in 1965, Lesser worked in advertising sales, continued collecting and began writing. In 1975, he wrote A Celebration of Comic Art and Memorabilia and since then has written 13 plays. Published in 1997, Pulp Art: Original Cover Paintings for the Great American Pulp Magazines is Lesser's second book. In 1988, Lesser decided to sell his extensive comic character collection and devote his attention to robots, space toys and Pulp Art.

During the Cold War, when Americans were fascinated with science fiction, came the 1956 film "Forbidden Planet," starring Robby the Robot. Lesser's collection includes 15 different versions of Robby, one which cost him $15,000—the most he has ever paid for a robot.

Machine Man is another rare robot in Lesser's collection which is part of the legendary Gang of Five, a term coined by Lesser himself. Only four original Machine Man's are said to exist. In 1997, one Machine Man sold at the Sotheby's Auction house for $74,000. The Gang of Five includes five battery operated, "skirt" (bell-shaped) tin robots produced by Masudaya Corporation of Japan during the 1950's and 1960's. Lesser is the one of the few collectors in the world to own the complete set. These robots and space toys were symbols of technology as American's imagined life beyond earth and the possibilities of the future.

After twenty years of collecting robots and space toys, Robert Lesser has created a collection so extensive you won't want to miss it. On display at the Museum of Science and Industry, from November 16, 2001 through January 6, 2002, The Robert Lesser Collection of Robots and Space Toys will fascinate all!

Robot and Space Toys Home
Meet Robert Lesser



Robert Lesser at home with a portion of his fascinating collection behind him.


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