Sunday, 15 September 2019


The I-SPY books were/are spotters' guides written for British children, and particularly successful in the 1950s and 1960s in their original form and again when relaunched by Michelin in 2009 after a seven-year gap in publishing.

The I-SPY Tribe was based on the I-SPY Books, some forty small volumes that sold in hundreds of thousands. 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 the book was complete, it could be sent to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and order of merit.

The company was supposedly run by a Red Indian chief called Big Chief I-Spy. The original Big Chief I-Spy was Charles Warrell, a former headmaster who created I-Spy towards the end of his working life. He retired in 1956, but lived on until 1995 when he died at the age of 106.

The original books were originally self-published by Charles Warrell 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.

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