Letterboxing in America
by "the mapsurfer"; updated January 6th, 2005
"The Outdoor Treasure Hunting
Etiquette, Conventions, and
And all the
Letterboxing is an intriguing mix
of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and
sometimes remote places. It takes the ancient custom of placing a rock on a
cairn upon reaching the summit of a mountain to an artform. It started when a
gentleman simply left his calling card in a bottle by a remote pool on the
moors of Dartmoor, in England.
Here's the basic idea: Someone
hides a waterproof box somewhere (in a beautiful, interesting, or remote
location) containing at least a logbook and a carved rubber stamp, and perhaps
other goodies. The hider then usually writes directions to the box (called
"clues" or "the map"), which can be straightforward, cryptic, or any degree in
between. Often the clues involve map coordinates or compass bearings from
landmarks, but they don't have to. Selecting a location and writing the clues
is one aspect of the art.
Once the clues are written, hunters
in possession of the clues attempt to find the box. In addition to the clue
and any maps or tools needed to solve it, the hunter should carry at least a
pencil, his personal rubber stamp, an inkpad, and his personal logbook. When
the hunter successfully deciphers the clue and finds the box, he stamps the
logbook in the box with his personal stamp, and stamps his personal logbook
with the box's stamp. The box's logbook keeps a record of all its visitors,
and the hunters keep a record of all the boxes they have found, in their
Where are the Letterboxes
Virtually all letterboxes are in
England, and in particular, in Dartmoor National Park, in Devon, with
estimates ranging from 10 to 40 thousand, depending on who you ask. I have
heard of boxes in elsewhere in continental Europe, Africa, and Asia, and some
in North America that predate the "modern", (or "post-Smithsonian") era of
American letterboxing. As for North America in the post-Smithsonian era (Apr
'98), there are approximately 5000 boxes scattered about the country, and the
number is growing fast. This FAQ is geared towards letterboxing in the USA;
many details are different for Dartmoor letterboxing.
What Do I Need to Hunt for
At the very minimum you will need
the clues. You should also have a personal stamp, inkpad, personal logbook,
and a pencil (for writing in the box's logbook, if you want). Depending on the
clue, you may also need a compass, map, or other tools. For my personal
logbook, I use a hardbound unruled art sketchbook. I like the unruled paper
because the stamp images look better. I also use a dye-based acid free ink;
inkpads can be gotten at many art stores (preferred) or some discount
department stores. Some people use multiple ink pads for a multi-colored
effect, and some people use pigment-based ink. I prefer the dye-based as it
dries faster and seems less messy, but this is all up to personal
Where Do I Get the
In Dartmoor, where letterboxing is mature,
it is possible to obtain a catalog that is estimated to catalog about half the
boxes in the park. In North America, where letterboxing is still developing,
most clues are in the clue database at the Letterboxing North America (LbNA)
web site, http://www.letterboxing.org/. Beyond that, getting clues themselves
can be part of the game. Sometimes clues are learned of only via word of mouth,
and I know of cases where one of the "goodies" in a letterbox is a clue to another
letterbox, unavailable elsewhere! Box hiders have no doubt come up with clever
ways to transmit their clues beyond the simple publishing of them on the Internet,
although at least in the US, that vast percentage of boxes have their clues
published on the LbNA web site. Other sites may also
publish some clues and sometimes clues are found at local outdoor retailers
and clubs, such as Eastern Mountain Sports.
What's the Deal With the Personal
The personal stamp is your personal
mark that you leave in the logbook of each box you find. It is a rubber stamp
that you either carve yourself or have custom made. Creating your personal stamp
is of course part of the art; it's your signature in the letterboxing world.
You would not typically buy an off-the-shelf rubber stamp to use as your personal
stamp unless you were really anxious to get started, or saw something that was
"you". Almost all personal stamps these days are hand-carved.
I Have Some Clues, How Do I
Interpret Them to Find Boxes?
Well, that's the fun part :-)
Clues come in all shapes and styles, from the simple to the cryptic to the
poetic to the bizarre. Sometimes the clue will be very straightforward, like
'Follow the red blazed trail up Mt. Foo and head 20 paces west from the summit
and look under the pile of rocks'. Just follow the directions; the challenge
and the beauty is, presumably, in getting to and climbing Mt.
Other clues will be more cryptic,
and may require research, riddle or puzzle solving, cryptology, etc., before
setting out. For example, see The Orient Express's
Letterbook clue. Many will have to be deciphered once you get in the area,
e.g. 'Turn towards the circle W at the laughing bear, and set sail away from
the sea'. Many will require navigational techniques such as using a compass with
or without a map, triangulation, pacing, map reading, etc. Learn these
techniques before getting involved in letterboxing. Note that these comments
apply mostly to the way letterboxing is done in the US. Some Dartmoor clues
seem to have a more consistent shorthand form, and some knowledge of the way
they are written is helpful. Your mileage may vary. Once you have figured out
a clue, be wary of snakes and the like when reaching into a dark area for the
Finally, please remember that no
matter where the clues may lead you, to be respectful of the environment, and
any sensitive plant or wildlife habitat in the area, historical areas, and to
be respectful of property rights and the law. Don't dig around or root up
mountains of rocks or old logs looking for buried treasure; letterboxing is
not like that. Most clues will tell you precisely how to find the box, if you
can figure them out :-). Look for a route choice that does not require you to
trample sensitive or off-limits areas. If you have any doubts or don't think
such a route exists, ask the landowner or manager about sensitive areas, or
simply choose another box; there are plenty. Remember, it is possible that you
misinterpreted the clues if they seem to be leading you into a questionable
How Do I Use a
Get a baseplate swivel type
compass for letterboxing. To follow a bearing, say of 130 degrees, twist the
housing so 130 lines up with the direction arrow on the base and hold it flat.
Then turn your body so the red part of the needle lines up with the (usually)
red arrow below the liquid in the housing. The direction arrow on the base now
points the direction to go.
Rather than try to follow that
arrow itself, find a distinct landmark in the exact direction it points, such
as a mountain or distinct tree, and head for that landmark. This is less error
prone and frees you to concentrate on pacing or other clue deciphering. When
you reach the landmark, choose another in the direction of the
One thing to consider is whether
the bearing in the clue is based on magnetic or true north. If the bearing is
based on true north, you will have to adjust the steps above to factor in the
magnetic declination, which varies locally, usually in a range of 8 to 25
degrees in the 48 States. You will have to research the local declination
before setting out. Most clue writers indicate whether their bearings are true
or magnetic; if unspecified, I would assume magnetic bearings, as virtually
all letterboxes that use bearings use magnetic bearings.
Here is an excellent site on how to use
What is a Pace?
Many clues will have pace counting
involved (i.e., look under the rock 20 paces northeast of the Red Queen). The
question often comes up, from both hunters and clue writers: "What should we
be using as a pace?", or "is there a standard pace?", or "is a pace one or two
The problem is that there are no
good answers to these questions, even if you've decided to standardize on one
or two steps, because everyone has different length legs, and some people pace
by simply walking whilst others pace by taking exaggerated
Many clues will have pace
calibration legs, or other subtle hints, so you can calibrate one pace of the
hider's to one of your paces, (see below for a
description of pace calibration legs), and you won't have to know or guess
what the hider thought a pace was, and how long their legs are, rendering the
question moot. If they don't, you will just have to go by feel, or try some of
the various definitions and hope your pace is similar to that of the
For what it's worth, even the dictionary is
unclear as to whether a pace is one or two steps. It goes on to define it in
terms of various lengths of measure (76cm, 5 English feet, 58.1 English
inches), but I doubt any clue writers are thinking along these lines (but who
Finally, an informal survey was
done on the LbNA talk
list. 80% of those who had an opinion felt a pace was the same as a single
step, i.e., the footfall of either foot, so you can use that if you have
nothing else to go on, and as a clue writer, it might make sense to use this
as a default.
What Do I Need to Hide a Box and How
Do I Go About It?
Here are the steps I follow,
generally in this order:
- Locate the general place you want
to hide the box, e.g. Foo Park or Bar Island. I like to find beautiful or
remote areas that are either interesting or scenic to visit in their own right,
or a challenge to get to, such as a mountaintop or remote island. Choose a
place you know well, or get to know it. Private land seems like a bad choice.
Do not choose locations that would have people looking for your box trampling
sensitive environments, or warn them of the areas to avoid in your clues.
If you have any doubts, ask the landowner or manager, or choose another area.
Note that it has been reported that it is illegal to place letterboxes in
certain parks, lands, etc., and you could be cited for doing so. In particular,
National Parks in the US are off limits to placing letterboxes. Don't
break the law.
- Carve (greatly preferred) or buy
the stamp that will go in this box. This is part of the art. Generally I like
the stamp image to pertain to the area that the box will be hidden in, i.e. a
sort of a signature for the box, or I like it to indicate the historical
significance of the box (e.g. first in Pennsylvania) or its
- Get the container itself and the
logbook, and any other goodies you want to put in the box. Get the smallest
container possible that will contain all the stuff that will go in the box.
Boxes can be hard to hide, depending on the terrain, so smaller is better. Get
something that is waterproof and strong. Do not use glass.
For the logbook, I recommend a
small unruled sketchpad, such as the 3 1/2 by 5 Strathmore Sketch pad,
available at art stores. Some recommend the Rite in the Rain
waterproof paper products, but others have reported some issues with
water-based stamp ink smearing on these.
For containers, I mostly use the
Rubbermaid freezer containers, which have
the advantage of being see-thru. Put the stamp and logbook in separate Ziploc
bags, then put the bags in the container. For more waterproofing, you can
use two freezer containers, packing one inside the other. Try to make the
thing as small as possible. Others have reported success with the American Science & Surplus
containers, which are watertight, airtight, screw-top cylindrical containers,
and are reasonably small, but you may have trouble wedging the logbook and
stamp into these. Some New England letterboxers have taken to using screw-top
plastic hiking water bottles, which seem to work well.
- In the field, locate the specific
hiding place for your box and work backwards. Find the hiding place first
because good hiding places are difficult to find, but clues and directions can
be written in pretty much any circumstances. If you start off at the "start"
and write clues, you may end up in an area where there is no suitable place to
hide the thing. The goal is to make sure someone without the clues has a zero
chance of discovering it accidentally. It is important that only people who
understand what letterboxing is find your boxes.
Hiding it under rocks and natural rock
ledges seems to work the best, followed by downed, hollow logs. Less ideal are
makeshift piles of sticks and bark, but that will do in a pinch, if the
location is protected from wind and storm water run-off. I recommend against
burying the thing, because you don't want people digging in parks, many of
which have artifacts buried and restrictions against digging -- such activity
will give the hobby a bad name. In Dartmoor, they use a technique called
"plugging", which the moorland terrain is suited for. I do not recommend this
in the States unless you and the people who have your clues are familiar with
the technique, and the terrain lends itself to such.
I recommend hiding the thing in
areas where there are rarely any passerbies. Boxes that are well off-trail
are more likely to not be accidentally discovered, but they run the risk
of having a social trail develop to them if they have a lot of visitors.
Some parks require that any boxes placed be right on the trail to prevent
this, so know the area and the rules first. Consider how many people will
be in the area of the box during high season. Make sure wildlife cannot
move the thing (but I am personally against tying it down, for fear of wildlife
getting tangled). When hiding it in grass or bushes, consider what the vegetation
will be like in the dead of winter (i.e. gone possibly). I made the mistake
of hiding my first box under a log in thick grass in the summer, only do
discover the grass completely gone in winter, and the box visible from 50
- Once the hiding place is nailed
down, write the clue. Then publish and/or distribute the clue.
Should I Carve, Commission, or Buy a
Pre-made Stamp for the Box?
I carve all my own stamps, and
believe you should too :-) They give the box its personality and cachet. Of
course, others have differing opinions on this. If you don't carve,
commissioning a custom-made stamp specific to the box is preferable to buying
one off the shelf. Or better yet, team up with a rubber stamp artist if you
know one. On the other hand, don't let the lack of a handmade stamp stop you
from putting boxes out. Some of my favorite letterboxing hikes have had store
bought stamps in them. Keep in mind however, that the hobby is evolving to the
point that most people prefer hand-carved stamps, and it is rare to find a new
box with a store-bought stamp these days.
There was talk of putting a
"virtual" stamp in the box, meaning that when the box was found, the hunter
would find a code rather than an actual stamp in the box, and would have to
e-mail the code to the hider to get the stamp image. While this idea may have
some merit, for certain circumstances, forget it :-). If I trek up Mount Foo
for your box, I better be able to stamp my book when I get there. (Don't
confuse this with "virtual letterboxes", which don't involve going outdoors,
but solving clues on web sites and finding a stamp image or perhaps a virtual
logbook (a new spin on the old Hunted Treasure idea).
How Do I Carve
See Der Mad Stamper's stamp
carving page, or the Carving Consortium page,
which has plenty if links. The basic idea is to draw the image on paper, transfer
the negative of the image to the carving medium, and then carve out the material
that is not part of the negative image. Many art stores will have carving tools,
and some people swear by Exacto knives or the Speedball carving system.
What Carving Media Should I Use and
Where Do I Get It?
Many people carve rubber erasers.
Erik the Viking of VT recommends the Factis white vinyl eraser, available at
some art stores (although not at the one near me) or via mail order. The two
most popular non-eraser media these days are probably PZ-Cut, and Speedballs "Pink
Stuff". One nice thing about the specific carving media as opposed to
erasers is that you can get larger blocks of the stuff, if you need more real
estate than the eraser allows to create your image. Note that the Factis
erasers come in two sizes, the smaller one in the orange wrapper, and a larger
one in a blue wrapper. Try to find the larger one.
How Do I Write
This is sort of like asking 'how do
I write a novel'? One thing newbies find helpful is to browse existing clues,
such as the ones at Letterboxing North America or a Dartmoor catalog. Some interesting
things have been done, and you will think of variations and new ideas. Work
with what the area has to offer, and try to show off the best features of the
area. I can offer a handful of vague principles that you may want to consider,
- Use confirming landmarks. If you
do a particularly cryptic or difficult set of clues, consider having them lead
to a landmark that will make it obvious to the hunter that they are on track
if they correctly interpret the clue, but one that will not give it away to
the clueless, or will even be noticed by the clueless.
- Use catching features if you don't
want to make it too tough. A catching feature is something like a river or
trail that is after a landmark in the anticipated direction of travel, that
indicates that the hunter is on the right track but went too far. I don't use
catching features too often, but then again I prefer to write more difficult
- Consider a pace calibration leg or
two in your clue. For example, a clue might translate to '50 paces from the
Red Queen on a bearing of 260'. How far is 50 paces? It is different depending
on the person, their stride, etc. If the box was placed by a kid and hunted by
an adult, or placed by an adult and hunted by a kid, it could be more
difficult than anticipated to go the correct distance as specified by the
number of paces. You may want to provide this sort of challenge, but if you
consider pace differences a nuisance rather than a puzzle, you can set up a
pace calibration leg of your directions like this: '100 paces from the White
Knight on a bearing of 33 to the Red Queen, thence 50 paces on a bearing of
260'. The first leg between two landmarks allows the hunter to calibrate their
pace to the hider's pace, assuming the two landmarks can be deciphered. Then
the hunter does the math to determine how far 50 paces really is for them.
This technique is entirely optional, but I tend to use it because I want to
present the challenge in different ways than guessing how far a pace is. I was
once hunting a box where 3 of my paces equaled 4 of the hider's. Had the hider
not used a pace calibration leg, I may have missed it.
- Make the hiding place obvious to
someone who has figured out the clues. This is hard to describe, but suffice
it to say that it can be very difficult to find a box hidden under some
non-descript debris on the forest floor. There are many downed logs, piles of
wood, and piles of rocks, etc. I like to make the last leg short with a
confirming landmark, and use a distinctive log or rock, so if they figure it
out, they are not greeted with many piles of rocks to search through. It goes
from skill to luck at that point, and may tempt some idiots to tear up the
area looking for the thing. Again, your mileage may vary. My style is to state
explicitly how the box is actually hidden; there is plenty of clue space
before this point to make a challenge out of it. If the box requires reaching
into a dark area where snakes or other nasties are endemic, remind people of
this in the notes that accompany your clue.
How Do I Publish or Distribute
Create your own web site and add a link
to your clues to the LbNA clue database, or enter your clues directly in the database.
This will get them to letterboxers all over the country quickly. The idea is
that the Letterboxing North America community mutually shares clues, and that
the hobby will spread and grow faster the more public clues there are in different
areas. Someone in your area may see your clue on the web site, hunt the box,
then plant another in your area. Presto, letterboxing has started in your area.
That is how it has happened elsewhere by using the web site. Of course, you
may want to hide the clues themselves somewhere on the 'net, or distribute them
locally or through a local outfitter if one exists in your area. In any case,
if you found this FAQ useful, and since I would enjoy hunting them, e-mail
me a copy too :-)
(Note that clues posted to the LbNA
talk list will no longer automatically be published on the LbNA web
site. The author of the clues always retains copyright to clues, and posting
clues to the web site does not transfer your rights to the web site managers).
How Do I Post Clues to the LbNA
There is a separate
FAQ for this, but in general, go to the main LbNA page, click on Submit
Clues, and follow the directions. You will have to create an account, but
there is no fee, no adware, no spam, or other nonsense that you may have seen
Are There any
The old cliché is that the only
rule is that there are no rules. That is true for the art of letterboxing in
many senses, although there is some common sense etiquette:
- Respect the land when hunting boxes
and when hiding them. Don't place a box that requires people to tramp through
sensitive wildlife or plant habitat to find it, for example. Warn hunters
of possible hazards in the area of the box in your clue notes. Use common
sense. If you have any doubts, ask the landowner or manager, or simply choose
another location for your activities. Adopt the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor etiquette.
Remember, some lands have restrictions on land use; know them and observe
- Don't publish or re-transmit other
peoples' clues or stamp images without their permission.
- Repack and hide the thing as well
or better than it was when you found it, in the exact place you found it.
After finding it, try to be discreet when stamping up and re-hiding it, as if
you were hiding your own box for the first time. When I find one, I usually
carry it deeper into the woods to stamp up, so as to not give away its
location to any passerby's, then put it back when I am done.
- Do not post clue solutions on the
Internet or discuss how to solve clues in public fora. That spoils the fun for
- Of course, do not violate the laws,
rules, customs, and people or property rights wherever you conduct any activities.
Should I Keep My Stamps
It is Dartmoor tradition to keep
your personal stamp secret, however I'm probably just about the only North
American who follows this tradition these days, most people like to exchange
personal images when they meet. Some people keep the box stamps secret and but
most do not. I keep them secret because it adds mystery to the game, but it is
up to you. Never scan other peoples' stamps you have found and post them to
the Internet without the hiders' permission. Of course, showing your stamp
book at a gathering in a pub is part of the fun ... :-)
What Are PFX Counts and Other
This question gets asked a ton.
Please don't ask it on the talk list -- the list is beyond burnt out on it
P and F is simply a declaration of how many boxes the North American
letterboxer has Planted and Found -- it usually appears in one's e-mail
signature. For example, P83F220 means the letterboxer has hidden 83 boxes, and
found 220. "X" is the number of eXchanges made with other letterboxers,
usually exchanges of personal stamps. "E" is the number of Event stamps
collected by a letterboxer. Some people will also put other abbreviations in
their signature, if you are interested in what they mean, dumpster dive the
talk list archive, or ask the individual directly, please don't post this
question to the talk list.
Of course, counting is not as easy as it first appears on the surface, and
sometimes people ask "how should I count this?". For example: 'What if I find
the box and the stamp isn't there?', or 'What if I find the box and it
contains a map to the stamp and I can't find the stamp?', or 'What if I solve
the clues via the Internet, but never visit the box?', and on and on. As is
done in Dartmoor, we have developed an LbNA patch to be awarded to
letterboxers when they reach particular numbers of North American finds, but
declaring accurate counts is on the honor system.
Here are some guidelines on how to
count, and while there is no rule-making body for American letterboxing, these
guidelines seem neutral and fair, if you are in doubt:
- Letterboxes planted in North
America by any person, regardless of letterboxing affiliation, count as
Planted, and count as Found if Found as below. No other objects can be counted
- Further, a letterbox can only
count as Found when the letterboxer obtains a stamp image from any stamp
associated with that box, and their personal stamp image has been imprinted
(or attempted) in the logbook or other part of the box.
- A box can be counted as Found more
than once if the preceding apply, and its clue, location, and stamp image
have all changed since Found the first time.
- A box Planted cannot be Found by
the person who Planted it.
- Hitchhikers count when initially
planted by their creator, and count as found when anyone else finds them.
Hitchhikers are letterboxes like anything else, therefore if their creator
finds his own creation, he can't count it.
Now, with things like Geocaching, and the
potential to put stamps in geocaches, the question has also come up, in terms
of P and F counting: "what is a letterbox?". No compelling argument was made
against counting geocaches and the like that happened to contain stamps, in
terms of P and F numbers (although interesting ambiguities can arise), so they
count for P and F numbers. I think this quote from Todd Lane sums it up the
If it has a notebook, a rubber
stamp, and a set of clues it is a letterbox. I don't think we should limit
the type of clues deemed acceptable [...] or demand that all "letterboxes"
be listed on the LbNA page.
What are Hitchhikers, Cuckoo Clues,
and Mystery Boxes?
A Mystery Box is a box with an unknown or very vague starting
location (e.g. Colorado). These are usually very vague, cryptic clues where
even finding where the hunt starts is a big challenge. Some of these sorts of
boxes can be akin to Armchair Treasure Hunting in some of the challenges posed.
(Mapsurfer #2 is believed to be the original North American mystery
A Hitchhiker is a letterbox that is
placed in another letterbox, and is moved from box to box as it is found. It
is typically simply a stamp and a logbook, although it can have its own
container as well. Hitchhikers count towards P's and F's; the
creator may count it as a P, while everyone (except the creator) who finds it
in the future, regardless of where, counts it as an F. Wanda and Pete keep a
tracking page. (Y2K Bug is believed to be the original North American
A Cuckoo Clue is a clue to another
letterbox that moves from existing box to box by the last person who found it,
with space on the clue for the finder to stamp their stamp and the stamp of
the box it is traveling too. (Mapsurfer #5 is believed to be the original
North American cuckoo clue).
Of course, this is only the tip of
the iceberg; new forms have, and are bound to further spring up, perhaps
developed by you. It would be unsporting to list all the secrets on the FAQ.
What About Patches and Where Can I
It is a letterboxing tradition to
create patches for finding a certain number of boxes (usually 100, and then
working up from there), your region, or an event.
Der Mad Stamper has a history section of
but it is unknown if he is still selling patches.
What Is the History of Letterboxing
In April, 1998, Smithsonian Magazine
ran an article on Dartmoor
letterboxing. Several people who read the article gathered together, exchanged
e-mails, and started a couple of web sites. . Groups and individuals independently
placed letterboxes at this time in Tennessee, Vermont, and Oregon. Shortly thereafter,
in June 1998, the EMS Store in the Crystal Mall, in Waterford Connecticut, independently
placed and began listing letterboxing clues of their customers in Connecticut
and Rhode Island. From this time forward is known as the "post-Smithsonian"
Letterboxing existed in North America
prior to the post-Smithsonian era. Dr. Sobel's Valley Quest program,
for example, dates from 1989, and I have found boxes planted in 1997 as part
of that program. Moreover, since letterboxing is 150 years old, and a bit
secretive in England, it is clear that there are other boxes from the olden
days lying around this country, you just have to find the clues :-) Generally,
however, when people speak of American letterboxing history, they are referring
to the Post-Smithsonian era.
One of my future projects is to write
a complete history of American Letterboxing. Right now, the following excellent
resources on history exist:
What Was the First Box Placed in the
That is impossible to know, of
course, but the current oldest boxes that I know of in this country were
placed as part of the Valley
Quest program. The claim is that this program was started in 1989; the
oldest currently cataloged boxes were placed in 1997, and I am still working
on determining which box was first and if it is still in the
As for the post-Smithsonian era
boxes, Max Patch Letterbox was first, claiming to be placed April
26th, 1998. Prayer Rock Letterbox, planted April 30th, 1998, was the first
to have a hand-carved stamp.
However, since letterboxing started
in Dartmoor in the 19th century, it is possible, if not likely, that there are
boxes that predate these in the US. I have not been made privy to them,
though, if they exist. If you find one, or are free to pass along clues to
one, please let me know
What Was the First Box Placed in
This list is currently off-line, due
to my general laziness. I never updated it after ND and SD fell, which was a
long time ago, and I would have to go update all the links, etc. Its on the
old site, and I may repost it if there is compelling demand. If you have such
compelling demand, and can't find it, let me know somehow and I'll bump it up
a notch in priority ... or better yet, find the list on the old site, and volunteer
to make a new page, and let me know, and I'll add it back.
What Organized Challenges or Hunts
None that I know of, but there are several
informal challenges in place. For example, you can try to collect 100 stamps
from US boxes to join the LbNA 100 Club,
or try to collect the stamp of the first box in each state, or collect all the
stamp images of a particular clue writer or artist. There also was a group challenge
at Letterboxing North America to try to get at least one box in each state by
the year 2000. It was close, but no guitar; 47 of 50 states had known letterboxes
at the end of 2000. Letterboxing is not supposed to be a competitive sport,
so most challenges are between yourself and a good set of clues.
Who is in the LbNA 100
It is tradition to keep track as
people cross letterboxing found milestones. Here is the LbNA 100
Club, letterboxers who have claimed to have found 100 North American
letterboxes, or at least have e-mailed the webmasters asking to be on the
list. In reality, there are many more who have reached this milestone who are
not on the list. Wanda has the most finds as of this writing, with 2451. Wanda
and Pete also keep PFX 500, 1000, and 2500 club
Is There Letterboxing in My
Check the LbNA clue database to
see a list of boxes in your area.
How Do I Get It Started in My
The best thing to do is plant the
first box and put the clues on the public web site. It has gotten started in
several parts of the country this way, when people saw the first box and
joined in. Another way is to work with your local outdoor gear store. This is
how it got started in Connecticut, and that state now has the most
What is Geocaching and is it like
They have many elements in common,
the most important of which is solving problems in beautiful locations.
Geocaching clues will almost always feature the use of a GPS in the hunt, of
course. Also, the take a stamp image/leave a stamp image concept of
letterboxing is replaced by a take an object/leave and object concept. More
information is at geocaching.com
They are the challenging series of
boxes I have been putting out since this all began in the USA, based on more
of a treasure hunting theme. They are believed to be some of the first placed
in the US, and Mapsurfer boxes
were the first boxes in eight different states, as far as I know. Since I'm
the FAQ maintainer, I get to shamelessly plug my boxes :-)
Where are the Mapsurfer Boxes
Where Can I Get More
See Letterboxing North America
and join its talk
list. You will get lots of pointers on all things letterboxing. Also, you
can always e-mail me with your
questions if you'd prefer. Of course, I wrote this sometime in '99 when there
was nothing out there, now there are tons of excellent letterboxing-related
sites. Rather than try to keep up on all the links, I think the best place to
go is the
The following links are from the previous version of the FAQ, and I kept
the ones that still work up, for historical interest, and I kept Wes's here
to, even tho his database now runs letterboxing.org. I won't be adding links
here, unless they are of historical interest; your best bet is to get on the
Williams' Letterbox Page
Sheehan's Letterbox Page
- Letterboxing International (still for
- Delano Middle
Illinois Association of Amateur Letterboxers
Cacophony Society (too bad, its gone, but the first gathering
(Michelle co-designed the LbNA logo)
- Letterboxing USA (declared defunct
- link removed at request of webmaster)
- Wes Garrison's
Letterbox Database Allows you to enter your letterboxes and post them on
the internet without knowing HTML or having your own web page
Where can I get Randy's letterboxing
At your local bookstore or at Amazon.com and
Who are the LbNA
Its a secret society, or so it has been
called :-). The database is the work of Wes Garrison, the current graphics and
look of the site are primarily the work of Mitch Klink. The original Letterbox
USA site by Dan Servatius inspired the site.
The webmasters are volunteers. The
webmasters are committed to keeping the site non-profit and commercial free,
with open, no membership, no strings attached access to letterboxing clues.
The costs of operating the site are handled by private contributions. The
idea of banner ads, pay to play, and other nonsense seems pretty lame.
Who Contributed to this
Well, many of these are real
questions I have fielded from prospective letterboxers. Many of the answers
have come from personal experience in the field, and from discussions on the
Letterboxing North America talk list. In particular, I have also used material
contributed to that list by Der Mad Stamper, Erik the Viking of VT, Dan'l, and
Lone Wolf. Thanks folks :-)
Where Do I Order
Copyright 頱999-2005 Randy Hall & letterboxing.org,
all rights reserved. These are opinions only, use at your own risk. All
liability arising from use or misuse of these ideas