Thursday, 3 January 2008
Do you remember the I-SPY books? I got a greal deal of pleasure out of spotting things in the I-spy books in the 1950s. Apparently there were about 40 volumes published in all but in the mid-1950s there were only about half that number. The books cost 6d with the exception of the thicker volumes which included Birds and Wild Flowers. These bigger ones were 1/- each. Each book covered a subject such as I-SPY Cars, I-SPY on the Pavement, I-SPY Churches, I-SPY on a Train Journey, etc. As children spotted objects such as coalhole covers, oak trees, semaphore signals, fire engines, whelks, and so on, they recorded the event in the relevant book, and gained points. Once you had earned a certain number of points you could send it to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and order of merit. I had a few feathers by the time my enthusiasm for I-SPY ran out.
I cannot recall Helen or Bryony having any but Richard had I-SPY castles at one time so they must have still been going in the 1990s. The books were initially self-published by Charles Warrell - the original Big Chief I-SPY - but, after a brief period when they were published by the Daily Mail, they were taken over by the now defunct News Chronicle newspaper and based in the paper's building in Bouverie Street. The regular I-SPY column, which appeared in the News Chronicle, reverted to the Daily Mail when the News Chronicle ceased publication, and continued to appear until the late 1980s by which time the books were sent to David Bellamy rather than a Big Chief.
I thought the idea had long since died a death but to my amazement I discovered a game has been released for the Nintendo DS console based on the books.