Role in series
In the film, they are used as a means of hinting at the secret unnamed organization (i.e. V.F.D., and of Uncle Monty's membership, and the Baudelaires receive a spyglass from their parents as a "rite of passage" according to Lemony Snicket.
In the TV series, the spyglasses return and are given a more explicit purpose, to decode secret messages between V.F.D. members and keep a look out in general. The Baudelaires recover one half of a spyglass from their destroyed home, and they encounter the Quagmire triplets who possess the other half of a complete spyglass.
In the novels, a spyglass used by V.F.D. is only briefly mentioned in The Slippery Slope.
The spyglasses in the film are seemingly made of solid brass, but in the TV series the spyglasses seem to be made of wood with rotating rings on one half, seemingly used for certain settings or different codes, and navigational compasses or gauges on the other half. The draw-tubes that pull out are made of solid brass with some rotating wheels and numbers, and the top of the spyglass has a cap bearing the V.F.D. insignia. Though the creator of the spyglasses is unknown, a common candidate would probably be Gustav Sebald, as he is known for creating the Sebald Code, which was featured in the film Zombies In The Snow, which Uncle Monty used a spyglass to decode a message hidden within the subtitles of the movie in the TV series.
Some known owners of V.F.D. spyglasses are:
- Klaus Baudelaire
- The Baudelaire parents (formerly)
- Isadora Quagmire
- The Quagmire parents (Mr. Quagmire and Mrs. Quagmire (formerly)
- Montgomery Montgomery
- Lemony Snicket
- Count Olaf
Some suspected owners:
In the TV series, in the starting of the Quagmire Fire scene in episode 8, a woman is seen in her car behind a newspaper wearing a very fashionable dress of monochrome. On the dashboard of the car is a spyglass. Due to the very fashionable dress the woman is wearing, she is commonly suspected to be Esme Squalor. SIDE NOTE: Did the spyglass shoot the laser that started the fire? Due to the convergence of light, it could very well be possible for a laser to be shot through the spyglass to make a fire starting beam.