Such an interesting topic.
Starcross had a star map and an index of items that was used as copy protection of sorts. Nothing stopped people from copying the docs though.
Deadline’s evidence pieces were inspired by the Dennis Wheaton books, (I bought two of them way back) which were mystery cases that included cigarette butts, photos, and other pieces of evidence.
Sometimes, however, these feelies were not for copy protection but for verisimilitude or immersion.
They were also a source of envy.
How fun is playing Wishbringer if you can’t own the stone? Still probably the coolest Feelie in the INFOCOM era. Yellow glow-in-the-dark plastic stone… but that damn thing glowed PURPLE!!!
Still have mine, even though I carried it in my pocket for years.
Hitchhiker had some good ones. Mostly simple though. Cotton wool in a baggie, cardboard Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, empty baggie holding the Microscopic Space Fleet.
Infidel had stamped envelopes with correspondence, a rubbing of a cube with coded markings.
Of course Suspended had a map board and icon markers for locating the robots.
When I wrote Piracy 2.0 I bought a number of clear acrylic 1” cubes and dyed them purple with boiling hot RIT dye. I bought a rubber stamp with a logo and applied paint to one face. Kinda crudely. I gave some away at PAX East one year.
For The Promise I carved a wolf-head amulet from a black beach stone and slung it on a leather thong.
For players I made a good replica in black Sculpy on the same leather thong. It took several hours to Dremel the stone amulet into a wolf’s head so that was never going to work for player versions. Sculpy was much faster and the end result looked VERY similar.
Feelies do not have to hide secrets to the gameplay but if they do, that is cool as long as players can get them easily.
Downloadable maps and documents are a great way to do Feelies.
Even those can help immerse a player in a game.