Wild Gadgets & Vintage Spy Tech You Can Buy Online

When a US database of fingerprints showed up on eBay, SPYSCAPE couldn't help but wonder: what other authentic spy gadgets and espionage swag can be bought online?

The German researcher who picked up a US military database of fingerprints and iris scans on eBay for $150 got much more than he bargained for in 2022 - the Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit (SEEK II) memory card held the names, iris scans, nationalities, photographs, and fingerprints of more than 2,500 people including some US government staff.

A Seek-II spy kit sold on eBay

It’s not clear how the SEEK II made it from the battlefields of Asia to the battle of eBay but it certainly isn’t the only time spy gear has been uploaded to the online auction house. SPYSCAPE did your bidding and found these other treasures - some of them still available, but presumably not for long!

Protona spy watch kit
Protona Minifon spy kit

Vintage Protona watch recorder

During the Cold War, spies relied on Germany’s Protona to supply wristwatches with microphones and recorders. The vintage Protona Minifon was to be worn partially hidden under a shirt cuff, allowing the wire to run up the arm and into a small recorder that hung from a harness strapped to the spy’s back. The watches were recording devices rather than timepieces so the hands were frozen at 7:25. It's not clear which spy agencies used the Protona Minifon but Watches of Espionage noted that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) revealed in an exhibition that the organization used several wristwatches with recording devices for 'various operations' and they appear to be Protona Minifon.

Protona Spy Watch with wires
Protona Minifon spy watch

While 120,000 Protona Minifons were reportedly ordered by an American “company” in the early 1950s, it's not clear if they were actually used by US spies. The watches rarely come up at auctions, and prices vary depending on the quality and whether they are sold alone or as part of the entire kit. Original ads said they cost $289.50 (about $2,800 today) although one watch with its original recording wire was spotted on eBay for $449.99 in mid-2023. 

MI5 Watch
Limited-edition Superocean Steelfish Breitling spy watch



MI5 'spy' watch 

A former MI5 officer with Britain’s secret service reportedly auctioned off his limited-edition Superocean Steelfish Breitling in 2014 - one of only 900 of the spy watches manufactured to mark the agency's 100th centenary in 2009. Colleagues were said to be livid when he advertised the memento - initially valued at £1,000 ($1,240) - after losing his job. Breitling replaced the number ‘6’ with a ‘5’ and added the MI5 crest Regnum Defende (Defend the Realm). The watch is no longer available on eBay but a similar MI5 Breitling was sold by another family for £4,750 ($5,800) at a 2023 auction so keep your eyes open.


Luftwaffe Aviator Wristwatch

The seller of this vintage aviator watch is asking $1,860 but the 1930s German aviator wristwatch is said to be in excellent technical condition and has been serviced by a master. (As with all purchases, buyer beware!) In 1940, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) was at one point the largest and most formidable Air Force in Europe, involved in the Blitzkrieg tactics employed by Germany during the early stages of WWII.


NSA/CIA, DSI Raster Generator
NSA/CIA, DSI Raster Generator


NSA/CIA, DSI Raster Generator

An eBay seller is advertising a gadget described as the only operational “DSI Raster Generator spy NSA hacker device CIA working prototype” for the asking price of $9,500. So what’s it used for? “It was built for use by US intelligence agencies as a surveillance device. Using proprietary technology, this device is so sensitive, it can interpret the radiation emitted from a computer display device, even at great distances, and through walls, allowing the user to read said screen's content, undetected.” At least, that's what the ad says.

Wild Gadgets & Vintage Spy Tech You Can Buy Online

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When a US database of fingerprints showed up on eBay, SPYSCAPE couldn't help but wonder: what other authentic spy gadgets and espionage swag can be bought online?

The German researcher who picked up a US military database of fingerprints and iris scans on eBay for $150 got much more than he bargained for in 2022 - the Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit (SEEK II) memory card held the names, iris scans, nationalities, photographs, and fingerprints of more than 2,500 people including some US government staff.

A Seek-II spy kit sold on eBay

It’s not clear how the SEEK II made it from the battlefields of Asia to the battle of eBay but it certainly isn’t the only time spy gear has been uploaded to the online auction house. SPYSCAPE did your bidding and found these other treasures - some of them still available, but presumably not for long!

Protona spy watch kit
Protona Minifon spy kit

Vintage Protona watch recorder

During the Cold War, spies relied on Germany’s Protona to supply wristwatches with microphones and recorders. The vintage Protona Minifon was to be worn partially hidden under a shirt cuff, allowing the wire to run up the arm and into a small recorder that hung from a harness strapped to the spy’s back. The watches were recording devices rather than timepieces so the hands were frozen at 7:25. It's not clear which spy agencies used the Protona Minifon but Watches of Espionage noted that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) revealed in an exhibition that the organization used several wristwatches with recording devices for 'various operations' and they appear to be Protona Minifon.

Protona Spy Watch with wires
Protona Minifon spy watch

While 120,000 Protona Minifons were reportedly ordered by an American “company” in the early 1950s, it's not clear if they were actually used by US spies. The watches rarely come up at auctions, and prices vary depending on the quality and whether they are sold alone or as part of the entire kit. Original ads said they cost $289.50 (about $2,800 today) although one watch with its original recording wire was spotted on eBay for $449.99 in mid-2023. 

MI5 Watch
Limited-edition Superocean Steelfish Breitling spy watch



MI5 'spy' watch 

A former MI5 officer with Britain’s secret service reportedly auctioned off his limited-edition Superocean Steelfish Breitling in 2014 - one of only 900 of the spy watches manufactured to mark the agency's 100th centenary in 2009. Colleagues were said to be livid when he advertised the memento - initially valued at £1,000 ($1,240) - after losing his job. Breitling replaced the number ‘6’ with a ‘5’ and added the MI5 crest Regnum Defende (Defend the Realm). The watch is no longer available on eBay but a similar MI5 Breitling was sold by another family for £4,750 ($5,800) at a 2023 auction so keep your eyes open.


Luftwaffe Aviator Wristwatch

The seller of this vintage aviator watch is asking $1,860 but the 1930s German aviator wristwatch is said to be in excellent technical condition and has been serviced by a master. (As with all purchases, buyer beware!) In 1940, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) was at one point the largest and most formidable Air Force in Europe, involved in the Blitzkrieg tactics employed by Germany during the early stages of WWII.


NSA/CIA, DSI Raster Generator
NSA/CIA, DSI Raster Generator


NSA/CIA, DSI Raster Generator

An eBay seller is advertising a gadget described as the only operational “DSI Raster Generator spy NSA hacker device CIA working prototype” for the asking price of $9,500. So what’s it used for? “It was built for use by US intelligence agencies as a surveillance device. Using proprietary technology, this device is so sensitive, it can interpret the radiation emitted from a computer display device, even at great distances, and through walls, allowing the user to read said screen's content, undetected.” At least, that's what the ad says.

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CIA recruitment pamphlet circa 1963
CIA recruitment pamphlet


Cold War propaganda and manuals

eBay is awash with espionage propaganda, posters, and brochures like this classic CIA recruitment pamphlet circa 1963, described as a ‘military collectible’ with an asking price of $200. It was previously owned by a Brown University professor in Providence, Rhode Island. If that doesn’t catch your fancy, how about propaganda posters, photos, and newspaper articles? 

Cold War Stamps and Spies
Soviet spy stamps

 

Spy stamps

Budget-conscious buyers may want to troll through eBay’s cool collection of spy stamps. The mint-conditions stamps above include Soviet tributes to KGB spy Kim Philby (bottom left), the British Cambridge Five spy who was the US liaison for MI6 before he defected to Moscow. KGB Atomic spymaster Konon Trofimovich Molody (top right) worked undercover in Britain as Gordon Arnold Lonsdale, the spymaster running the Portland Spy Ring. These five collectibles were spotted on eBay for $1 in June 2023, an ideal gift for budding philatelists or spooks.

KGB Document stamper
KGB Document stamper

KGB document stamper

You never know when you may need to number your secret documents, so consider this $45 KGB document stamper from 1972 - advertised on eBay by a Kazakhstan seller. The stamp is described as an “automatic numbering device” for secret documents. The number is sealed and a small imprint is created with a stamp width of 6 centimeters. If you’ve already got your documents sorted, you may instead be interested in KGB medals, field briefcases and many other Soviet collectables. 

Japanese HIT spy camera
Hit spy camera

Hit Japanese spy camera

There are dozens of vintage cameras online including this Japanese HIT spy camera that comes with a leather case and starts at $25 (while the auction lasts). This particular Hit Miniature Gold Brass Spy Camera also comes with a roll of Mycro Panchro subminiature film loaded inside. There are plenty of other spy cameras online as well but the prices climb steeply upward. 

HONORABLE MENTION:

Spy camera cigarette package

Prima Ukraine cigarette camera

While the KGB certainly hid vintage cameras in cigarette packages (SPYSCAPE has a KGB Kiev-30 subminiature spy camera in a pack of John Player Special cigarettes in our collection), we aren’t so sure this 35mm spy camera was used for spying. We’re giving it honorable mention though. The cigarette camera was produced in small quantities as a souvenir for Ukrainian tobacco brand ‘Prima’ circa 2002 and it was selling on eBay with a price tag of $190 which also included an operating manual.

Polish spy/police phone and recorder
Polish phone

Polish police phone and recorder

This red hotline is described as a “rare Polish rotary phone and tape recorder, KGB Police Unit“ vintage. The model is a Polish-manufactured Telkom RWT Elektrim Model STORCZYK-74 with a Unitra Zrk Model Tape Recorder B302. While it appears to be authentic, we can’t verify that it was police issue. In any event: “Jesteś aresztowany za szpiegostwo!” (You are under arrest for spying!)

SMERSH Watches
Even Rosa Klebb isn’t convinced by the ‘authentic’ SMERSH watches


SMERSH watches

There are plenty of Russian watches online, including many describing themselves as either authentic military watches or ‘SMERSH - Death to Spies’ timepieces but check the fine print. SMERSH was absorbed into Moscow’s Ministry of State Security in the 1940s, making it highly unlikely you’re buying an ‘authentic’ SMERSH watch made in the ‘90s (or any year, for that matter).

SMERSH Shoes

SMERSH was also, however, the name of Ian Fleming’s fictional villains, the agency where From Russia with Love’s creepy Rosa Klebb once worked. So, if that’s the SMERSH you’re thinking about, you’re in luck.

There are plenty of replicas waiting for you online - and you may even pick up a killer pair of SMERSH shoes to go with them.

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