Spyology

To round off my blog of posts with its diverse subject matters, this is a post about a book called Spyology: The Complete Book of Spycraft by Spencer Blake and Dougall Steer, which is part of the ologies series of books. If you’ve lost all or some of the inserts of this book, continue reading, this blog post is for you!

Spyology book on Amazon (no affiliate link)

This is a book I would have loved to receive as a child – I was really into ciphers, secret messages, and secret clubs. I spent days pouring over library books, reading mystery book after mystery book and learning different ciphers.

As I was familiar with the ology series, I immediately jumped when I saw a copy of this book at my local thrift shop and bought it immediately. Only to get home and realise the inserts were all gone. What a bummer.

I searched the ‘net and found a couple ASMR videos on Youtube and managed to recreate the inserts through the kind work of Patrick’s Attic, who especially for me recorded a “more details” video that allowed me to piece together the book.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who may encounter one of these books in a second hand shop with some, or all of the parts missing, so I thought I’d share my creations.

Note: some of the graphics have very small(microdot) writing that are essential to help you solve the final mystery, so make sure those are visible on your printouts. You may need a 10x magnifying glass if you’ve lost the red cipher at the front of the book (more on how to make one of those later).

The inserts

The envelope on the first page contains a postcard and three photos and a torn newspaper clipping:

The flap under the journal entry on the 4th page (The Perfect Spy) contains three pieces of paper that illustrate some visual ways to hide messages. Unfortunately there’s one “microdot” message that I never found out on the one piece.

The flap under the journal entry on the 6th page (A Secret Service) contains a newspaper clipping, another secret message and a piece of cardboard with cut out blocks used for deciphering.

The wallet on the 8th page (Going Grey) contains a business card for Dexy’s Diamonds. The flap on the 9th page contains a pair of cardboard spy glasses that don’t seem to have any purpose whatsover.

The journal flap on the 10th page (Surveillance) has a small map.

The “Can you crack the codes?” envelope on the 15th page has a strip of paper (scytale) and a set of cards explaining how to use a variety of common and uncommon ciphers. (These are important for decoding the final message).

The puzzling message on the 20th page (Counterespionage) is a CODEX flyer.

A paper aeroplane is tucked into the journal entry on the 22nd page (Escape!)

Now we get to the final parts. There is a secret compartment on the back page, which is not featured in the video above. It contains three photos and a message.

When you’re finally ready to reveal the mystery, you should look in the spine of the book for the reveal of what actually happened. SPOILER ALERT – the code is deciphered in the download, so don’t look at the 3rd image if you want to solve the mystery yourself!!! Download here.

Red cipher wheel

My DIY cipher wheel. It isn’t perfect but it does the job

If your copy of the book is missing the red cipher wheel, you can create one yourself.

What you need:

  1. a very strong magnifying glass with a 9cm diameter,
  2. a piece of red acetate,
  3. a piece of gold paper,
  4. a black sharpie (or similar), and
  5. some strong clear glue.

Instructions:

  1. Take the magnifying glass out of its frame
  2. Use the magnifying glass to trace two circles on the red acetate
  3. Cut out the acetate circles and place them on top and underneath the magnifying glass
  4. Glue them on, but only on the edges (not on the center)
  5. Print out two copies of the cipher wheel on your gold paper
  6. Cut out the cipher wheels (remove the center circle)
  7. Glue the cipher wheels on the top and bottom of the red acetate which is now covering the magnifying glass
  8. Take your sharpie and copy the symbols that you can see on the first page of the book into the correct blocks on the outside circle of the cipher wheel.

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