Espionage is the world's second oldest profession as the saying goes, and has taken place in every corner of the world. But a few places stand out as nexus points for some of the most significant events in espionage history, especially during the Cold War.
Collected here are drink coasters representing manhole covers from four cities across the world where spies and covert operatives were sure to be found over the past century. These four cities should be immediately apparent to anyone with a passing knowledge of Cold War history.
Havana, Cuba; one of the biggest hotbeds of Cold War intrigue, especially from 1957 on when Fidel Castro began his rise to power across the tiny island nation, earning the ire of the United States, and the support of the Soviet Union.
Moscow, USSR; the capital of one of the two great superpowers of the latter half of the 20th Century, and perhaps the most difficult environment the Central Intelligence Agency and other US intelligence organizations ever attempted to operate in. It was also the site of one of their greatest successes, when case officer Ken Seacrest successfully slipped through the KGB surveillance net surrounding the US Embassy and descended through a manhole cover just like this one to tap subterrenean communication cables running between the Krasnaya Pakhra Nuclear Weapons Research Institute and Soviet Ministry of Defense in the late 1970s.
East Berlin; capital of the German Democratic Republic, more commonly known as East Germany during the Cold War. East Berlin was another site of endless intrigue with rampant espionage operations taking place there from 1945 until 1990. Kidnappings, murders, sabotage, and agent recruitment were common occurrences there, especially once the infamous Berlin Wall rose to divide the city of Berlin and prevent more East Berlin residents from fleeing their oppressive government.
Vienna, Austria; one of the preferred meeting locations between the KGB, GRU, and their American assets. Because of its somewhat neutral stance during the Cold War, many Americans working at the behest of the Soviet Union met their handlers in Vienna whenever possible. This included Edward Lee Howard, who went on to defect to the Soviet Union in 1985 after his dismissal from the CIA.
Now you can own a set of four drink coasters, each one a replica of a unique manhole cover found in the spy capitals of the world. These coasters are manufactured in Philadelphia, PA with all-natural Portuguese cork, using hand-drawn illustrations and etchings. They are a quarter-inch thick and four inches in diameter. They make for fantastic gifts for your history-minded friends and relatives, and a great conversation piece to boot. The Portuguese cork will stand up to years of use.