Did these firefighters masks inspire Star Wars? Collector claims his heavy-duty helmets were inspiration for Darth Vader

December 11, 2012 | by | 0 Comments

A collector of industrial memorabilia claims these 19th Century firefighter’s masks could be the inspiration behind the iconic Star Wars characters.

The heavy-duty helmets bare an uncanny likeness to George Lucas’ most famous creations, including evil super villain Darth Vader and protocol droid C-3PO.

But they are actually breathing masks dating from somewhere between the mid-1800s and World War I and were used in real-life rescue situations.

Darth Vader

Darth Vader from the Star Wars films

A 19th Century firefighter's mask that may have inspired the character

A 19th Century firefighter’s mask that may have inspired the character

They belong to Steve Erenberg, a professional collector of industrial oddities from New York.

The gold mask was fed from the back with fresh air from a bellows outside, meaning the wearer could enter a burning building at the end of 13 metres of flexible tubing.

The black mask is known as a Respirations Apparat by G.B. Konic Altona of Hamburg, Germany, which is even more shocking considering Darth Vader’s helmet was partly a respiratory system.

Another of the haunting heavy helmets

Another of the haunting heavy helmets

The smoke masks were used in the 19th century

The smoke masks were used in the 19th century

Erenberg said: “The buzz among collectors is that George Lucas’s designers must have found inspiration in these smoke helmets and others like them.

“It’s also said that one of the well-known manufacturers of the time was known as Vajen-Bader.

“Bader sounds a lot like Vader to me! This could actually be some of the original inspiration for two of cinema’s most famous characters!”

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