Antiques and unusual objects, such as hand-cranked telephones and a gorgeous display of swords and spears, decorate the inside of the Colombian home IT Project Manager Robert Escobar and his family would often visit throughout his childhood.
Although he’d always hoped to someday inherit his families’ antiques, he’s been working on his own collection ever since his first purchase from the New Orleans antique market—an Indian sword from 1850.
“I bought my first one and was pretty much hooked,” he says.
After that, he was one step closer to pursuing his dream of becoming a writer.
An Inside Look at His Collection
Robert’s historical weapons collection has grown to include Tibetan, Japanese and Native American items, to name a few. He owns several artifacts that are extremely rare and uses the term “out-of-the-way” to describe the items in his collection.
One of his artifacts, called a riding crop, happens to be Sherlock Holmes’ favorite weapon.
“One of the ways to turn your riding crop into a self-defense implement back then was to insert a denser, heavier substance so then it had bone-breaking force,” Robert says.
You may already be familiar with the riding crop from watching the 2009 film “Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert Downey Jr., but most viewers aren’t aware the object is actually designed to be a hidden weapon.
The loaded bamboo uses a similar technique. This rare object appears to be an innocent bamboo baton, but is actually loaded with lead—turning it into a devastating weapon. Aside from the loaded bamboo he owns, Robert has only ever seen two others, even online.
As a result of Robert’s dedication to lifelong learning, his knowledge often reaches others.
Nina Figueroa, who works in BKD’s Dallas Accounting department, has become one of Robert’s good friends, and often is interested in the projects Robert and his team work on from the other side of their building.
Throughout her experience working with Robert, Nina has realized you can make a weapon out of nearly anything.
“Give me a sock, some sand and water and I think you’ve got yourself a homemade sap,” she says.
She’s also grateful for the stories Robert tells of his weekend family adventures, as well as getting to try the new Colombian pastries Robert brings from time to time.
The Wild Detectives
To share his passion and knowledge of history on an even wider scale, Robert has gone on to write and publish a book on the history of ancient weapons.
His book, “Saps, Blackjacks and Slungshots: A History of Forgotten Weapons,” takes a deep look at historical weapons—a detailed examination that’s almost impossible to find elsewhere—and captures a piece of history that no one else has before.
When Chief Information Officer Greg Shoemaker discovered Robert had published a book, he was nearly blown away.
“It’s not just a simple, light read book—it’s a dense, thick, historical book on an incredibly rare topic that was very difficult to research,” he says.
True enough, conducting research felt like collecting needles from countless haystacks.
Although the source material was incredibly scattered and limited, his extensive research efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Sir Christopher Ricks, a prominent literary critic, claimed Robert’s research to be extraordinary.
This summer, Robert went on to give his first book presentation at his favorite bookstore in Dallas, The Wild Detectives.
Opened by two young men from Spain, The Wild Detectives is a bookstore, bar and café. They usually host breakthrough novelists or the authors behind moving memoirs—not history book writers who focus on weapons.
Nina attended the presentation and found the material incredibly interesting. “It’s captivating to watch someone speak about something they feel so passionate about, and I could see that the entire shop was right there with him.”
From the people who wandered in for a book or some coffee, to even the shop employees coming over to take pictures, Robert had the whole room engaged.
“If you would have told me that one day I would willingly attend a book reading for historical weapons, then I wouldn’t have believed you,” says Nina.
Even greater than the opportunity to present at his favorite cultural spot in all of Dallas was getting to share this important moment with his two kids, Isabelle and Roland—that was truly the cherry on top.
“My kids got to see it, and I thought that was really neat for them to see me doing that,” Robert says.
Depth & Degree of His Passions
In addition to attending the book presentation, Robert’s kids also are involved in his significant interest in antiques. The family often goes out of the way to see neat antiques or historical objects—things you’ll never see in a museum.
About a month ago, he took his kids to a private show where they saw a variety of space exploration artifacts, including an American flag that was flown to the moon and brought back.
Before the moon artifacts, his kids recently saw Sitting Bull’s rifle.
“They’ve been in very refined private antique stores, and I’m the only one bringing a kid who’s wearing his soccer gear from his game earlier that Saturday,” Robert says.
In addition to collecting historical weapons, traveling throughout Dallas to see unique artifacts and consistently reading and writing, Robert has two first-degree black belts (one in Goju-Ryu karate and another in Kobudo), skateboards when he can and is currently training for a marathon.
Greg, having always known Robert to be a hard worker, fully present family guy, history buff and collector, was truly impressed with Robert’s time management. He’s almost convinced Robert has altered time so that he gets more than 24 hours out of each day.
“I’m mostly surprised at the depth and degree to which Robert pursues his passions,” Greg says. “He’s so deeply into everything he loves.”
While some people skim the surface of their interests, Robert dives into them with everything he has.
For anyone considering the commitment to a crazy project of their own, Robert recommends two things: start when you’re young, and focus on the immediate thing in front of you.