University of Rochester

Alumni Gazette

Eclectic Collector

Bob Klein ’63
‘MAD’ MAN: Klein and a rare edition of Mad magazine, part of his collection of collectibles

If he could, Bob Klein ’63 would save just about everything.

A retired special education teacher and guidance counselor in the Rochester schools, Klein has created a second career around a lifelong love of collectibles, trolling antique shops, flea markets, and the Web for unusual finds.

He’s not particular about what he collects—it just has to strike a chord and inspire him to trace the history of the object. That means he has train sets cheek by jowl with Charles Lindbergh’s bicycle, a Herman Hesse pen-and-ink illustration, World War I rifles, the first Superman comic, and the third Mad magazine (“The first to mention marijuana”).

His house is filled with antiques and collectibles, from the turn of the millennium—the first millennium A.D. (a page from the Koran, dated to the 1000s)—to the 1970s (a Darth Vader bank, a Pet Rock).

He’s not overly protective of his items, either. He’ll take his 1949 Cadillac Fastback cruising and take his Army MASH Jeep to Rotary Club functions and restaurant openings.

And while he’s partial to what he’s collected, he doesn’t get so attached that he isn’t willing to resell them—with a few exceptions.

“You could probably buy this off of me,” he says of the Babe Ruth baseball card sandwiched between two pieces of Plexiglas, “but not these,” he says, indicating a photo from the 1800s, of his great-grandmother and her three children, as well as his great-grandfather’s pocket watch. “Never these.”

With all the bits of historic flotsam and jetsam surrounding him, could he point out what he values most?

“I could,” Klein says, “but my wife is at work right now.”

—Jayne Denker