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Top 10 Strangest Items Used by Spies

Spies are highly competent people bred to gather intelligence, seize classified information, and carry out impossible operations. Successful spies have a role in many events that change international balances, especially in modern times! A spy’s biggest assistant is the items he has with him during the mission! However, especially Hollywood movies reveal an exaggerated picture about spy items. Despite this, technology advancing in the 20th century has spawned many new items that will help spies handle far more challenging missions. Intelligence services such as MI6 and KGB produced high-tech items for their spies. Especially II. World War II and the Cold War period after it made espionage become very important thanks to these inventions. Here are 10 spy items that were used by real spies and could be considered a state-of-the-art technology of their time…

1. Poison umbrellas


Poisonous umbrellas, which look ordinary but can turn into deadly weapons, were one of the most important assistants of Soviet spies! Because these umbrellas allowed Soviet spies to covertly eliminate their targets. The ends of the poisonous umbrellas were covered with a poison called ricin, which was impossible to detect at that time!

One of the most famous victims of poison umbrellas was a Soviet dissident named Georgi Markov. Markov was walking around Waterloo Bridge in 1978, when a man with an “umbrella” passed by him. At that moment, Markov felt a pain in his leg and died 4 days later. Doctors found a small piece of metal in Markov’s leg. However, the man with the umbrella was never found.

2. Remote control insects

Remote-controlled insects were developed by the CIA in 1974. It was intended to be used to eavesdrop on secret meetings and seize important information. However, due to the technological possibilities at that time, these insects were not very functional. Insects could only work for 1 minute. In addition, it was not possible to use these insects in windy weather. For this reason, no spy at that time effectively used these insects! But these futuristic bugs were among the spy items that led to today’s drones.

3. Button cameras


Button cameras were used by many spies throughout the Cold War. Cameras small enough to be hidden inside a jacket button were the biggest helpers of many spies of the time. Button cameras were controlled by mechanisms placed in the pockets of jackets. In the following periods, similar cameras were also hidden in jewelry such as necklaces and brooches.

4. Exploding pencil cases


II. Developed by the United States during World War II, pencil cases were actually nothing more than dangerous explosives! Many American spies were able to perform very noisy actions thanks to these boxes. Also, the exploding pencil cases had a timer. Thus, a spy who placed the pencil case in the right spot could easily get away from the crime scene.

5. Camera pigeons


Pigeons equipped with hidden cameras, I and II. It was used as a surveillance tool in World Wars. Thanks to these pigeons, monitoring the battlefields and determining their target points became much safer. Thanks to the developed mechanism, these pigeons were able to take many photographs. They were also able to make low-flying flights undetected by enemy troops. For this reason, these pigeons, which were the technological wonders of their time, were one of the most important spy tools that changed the fate of wars.

6. Letter openers


II. World War II spies were pretty good at reading a letter without the recipient knowing. Of course, this success was rooted in a cutting-edge letter opener! A spy who wanted to get hold of any confidential information could read any letter he wanted thanks to the letter opener. Because this specially developed letter opener did not leave any traces on the envelope of the letter. Moreover, it allowed the letter to be closed as if it had never been opened.

7. Wristwatch cameras


Developed by the Germans in 1940, these cameras were also one of the highly functional spy tools. The assembly consisted of a lens placed on the watch face and a roll of film underneath. These wristwatch cameras could take 8 pictures. Wristwatch cameras were very useful tools, although they did not offer a perfect frame for spies.

8. Glove guns

The first glove gun was designed by the USA. In response, the Soviets soon developed their own glove gun. These concealed pistols could be placed inside extremely ordinary gloves. In this way, a spy who wanted to get close enough to his target would definitely use these gloves.

9. Suitcase transmitters

Developed by the British intelligence services, this invention mediated the prevention of many attacks. These devices, which look like an ordinary wooden suitcase, were actually transmitters that could receive signals from all over the world. The planned attack on the British embassy in Tehran in 1978 was prevented by this invention.

10. Lipstick guns

Nicknamed the “kiss of death”, this spy weapon was used extensively by Soviet agents. An extremely ordinary lipstick was found on a person arrested in West Berlin in 1965. But taking a closer look at the lipstick, the authorities realized that it is a real weapon.

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