Dell Mapbacks

Vinatage Book Covers with Illustrated Maps

From Wikipedia:

Mapback is a term used by paperback collectors to refer to the earliest paperback books published by Dell Books, beginning in 1943. The books are known as mapbacks because the back cover of the book contains a map that illustrates the location of the action. Dell books were numbered in series. Mapbacks extend from #5 to at least #550; then maps became less of a fixed feature of the books and disappeared entirely in 1951. (Numbers 1 through 4 had no map, although a later re-publication of #4, The American Gun Mystery by Ellery Queen, added a map.) The occasional number in the series between #5 and #550 contains no map, but some sort of full-page graphic or text connected with the book's contents.

The artwork of the maps began with quite detailed maps, and later numbers contain more stylized ones. "The back cover map was very popular with readers and remains popular with collectors ... the Dell 'mapbacks' are among the most well known vintage paperbacks."

"Dell's most memorable design innovation was not on the front but on the back covers ... the entire back covers given over to maps, or variously charts, blueprints, or what have you to represent story locale or scene of the crime: a stretch of California highway, the interior of an apartment, a sheik's 'city of stones.' It was an enjoyable if slightly goofy gimmick and, amazingly, managed to last nearly ten years."

[Archive]Dell Mapback article from CrimeReads[Archive]Agatha Christie Mapback's archive from CollectingChristieWikipedia Entry for Mapbacks


Dreams of Gerontius

Puzzles and Treasure Hunt Reviews and Solutions

Dreams of Gerontius is a great resources providing some fascinating and in-depth solves of puzzle and Treasure Hunt books. From the website:

"The Dreams of Gerontius
is all about puzzles and games.
Its author is Geoff Dallimore, a lapsed physicist, hobbyist programmer and musician, and professional European patent attorney at"

"Armchair treasure hunt books were the primary motivator for creating this site. The best is still the classic
Masquerade by Kit Williams, but The [less classic] Merlin Mystery by Jonathan Gunson and Marten Coombe remains a source of intrigue for many. There are plenty of others in the genre of varying quality, and you’ll find articles and hints about some of the more famous under the Treasure Hunts category."

"I like board games, computer games and puzzles of all types. Computer puzzle games come and go a lot more quickly than full armchair treasure hunts, so there are probably more articles about them than other things."

"There are also also several personal projects that I’m working on and publish from time to time. There’s even an armchair treasure hunt book of my own that I’m writing. Maybe I’ll finish it one day!"

[Archive]Dreams of Gerontius


Pop-Up Books Archive

A French site dedicated to Popup Books

From the website (translated from French):

Hello to all pop-up collectors, or simple readers curious to discover this strange world which brings together young people from 3 to 95 years old! I present here all of my personal collection (around 840 pop-ups).

But by creating the Pop-Up-Féerie site (following an exhibition at the Cholet media library), I was far from imagining the work it took to get there. The site set up, the pop-up files published, it was obvious to create a Facebook account and even more to create a You Tube channel, which is done from May 2020, the following Instagram account shortly!

Being a simple amateur even if I was greatly helped by the designer of the site Charlotte of @cgcommunication and by my daughter Elodie, I beg you to excuse any errors, or delays on some pages, everyone knowing that retirees never have space on their agendas: too busy!

Happy reading to you and know that you can always join me for an exhibition or conference.

[Archive]Pop-up Féerie Website


Let's Crack Zodiac

Australian Mathematician Sam Blake solves the 'Unsolvable' 40 year old Cypher.

From the ABC News Article:

"Melbourne mathematician Sam Blake and two fellow cryptologists have been officially recognised by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation for solving a 50-year-old cryptic message written by an as yet unnamed serial killer, known only as the Zodiac."

ABC News Article

What's fascinating about this effort, and eventual solve, is not only the solution itself, but how Blake could determine the cypher contained a legible message through the use of a computer program, and an understanding of true randomness.


Cracking the Cryptic

Solving Impossible Sudokus

Even if you're not a fan of sudokus or everyday puzzles, "Cracking the Cryptic" tackles some extremely interesting spin's on the traditional format, leading to some fascinating solve method's.

The channel's videos are typically between 30-60 minutes long depending on the complexity. The hosts provide ongoing description of their method's, with them solving it in real time, and provide's an online template of the puzzle to follow along with.

If you can get past the dreadful video thumbnails, you'll find some interesting - and even oddly relaxing - viewing!

Cracking the Cryptic's Youtube Channel


Mysterious Writings

Treasure Hunt's Collected and Solved


Easter Eggs and ARGs

Secrets in Art, Books and Media

Everyone's familiar with Easter Eggs, in media, games, literature etc. Think of a collectible hidden in a video game from another franchise, or a running joke hidden between two sitcoms, or Steven King's town of Derry tying Pennywise the Clown from "IT" into multiple other books from him). They give an extra dimension for fans to explore.

ARG's often take it one step further - building extraordinarily complex puzzles into video games that can take months and years (and in some cases decades) for fans to uncover.

Gathered below are a few interesting links, from straightforward Easter Egg's to fascinating treasure hunts in media.

Wikipedia Entry for Augmented Reality Game (ARG)[Archive]Game Detective's list of Official and Unofficial ARG's

Reddit also has a great subreddit for "In Real Life" Easter Eggs - fun things hidden in everyday objects like streetsigns, packaging and products.

Reddit's r/IRLEasterEggs subreddit


Worldless Books

Archive of Wordless Illustrated Children's Books



Your one-stop-shop for Gamebooks

This archive of Gamebook's from Demian Katz spans back as far as the 90s and is as comprehensive a list of the genre as you'll find out there.

Maintained by a group of avid fans and contributors you'll find a tonne of resources here, all meticulously maintained with book versioning/variants, cover photos, reviews etc etc. Website


The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club

An Archive of Treasure Hunts, Past and Present

From the website:

"In March 1992 treasure hunt author Dan James, famous for his work in the art of illustrating and producing treasure hunt books, founded The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club and produced its first bimonthly club newsletter. This newsletter offered a challenge for people to pit their wits against each other, in the search for buried treasure, as in the long lost days of old, but this time the clues to the treasure could be solved from the comfort of your own armchair.

For the cost of just £20 per year, members receive club treasure hunts and puzzles to solve, plus news from the treasure hunting world, within the pages of the club's newsletters.

The first club treasure hunt (March 1992) was written and produced by Dan James himself was entitled A Timeless Moral. The prize, a statuette of the character within the story, Dr Emmanuel Worsfold, was crafted in bronze, and set on a rosewood base embellished with silver decorations, beaten, cut, and polished by hand. This treasure remained buried for three years, as people from all walks of life tried to solve the hidden clues within the story.

Since A Timeless Moral, club hunts have come thick and fast - with at least one new major club hunt each year. Some club hunts remain unsolved and are open to new and current members alike. Most recently, A Monkish Plot offers a wooden chest of silver trinkets to the finder of a buried antique key."

[Archive]The Armchair Treasure Hunt Club Website


Into the Abyss

Ode to Immersive Puzzles - one Infamous one in Particular

Into the Abyss is the work of pseudonymous blogger 'White Raven' and their quest to solve Christopher Manson's complex puzzle book "MAZE". They have an interesting breakdown of each daunting page of MAZE, with the reply comments often being just as useful as the blog post.

From the website:

“This site is devoted to the genre of the immersive puzzle, but until there is another like MAZE, this site stands as a testament to the brilliance of Christopher Manson, who, in one stroke launched and mastered a new genre of literature.”

[Archive]Into the Abyss Website