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LbNA Glossary

abandoned letterboxA letterbox whose or clue owner has ceased to care for it. See unclaimed letterbox.
adopted letterboxA letterbox whose care and maintenance has been taken over by someone other than the original planter, either because the box has been abandoned and the owner cannot be located, or because the box is an orphan and arrangements have been made with a local caretaker to look after the letterbox. Contact Webmasters if you want to put one of your letterboxes up for adoption. SEE ALSO: How do I adopt a letterbox?
archived letterboxLetterbox clue that has been marked to not show up in standard searches. Clues can be archived or unarchived by planters or webmasters. Grey text in a list of clues indicates an archived clue.
armchair treasure huntAn activity that requires solving real-life literary riddles and then searching for treasure somewhere on the globe -- while never leaving the comfort of your couch. Several books by Kit Williams have popularized the activity in recent years. SEE ALSO: Armchair Treasure Hunt Resource Armchair Treasure Hunt Club American Treasure Hunt Society
Atlas QuestAtlas Quest is one of the largest and fastest growing letterboxing sites on the Internet. It is best known for it's City-Centered Search and stamp carving tutorials. Also very popular with people who like to send each other stamps via the U.S. Postal Service.
baby wipesIt's good practice to clean off a letterbox's rubber stamp after you've made an impression in your personal journal, but avoid using baby wipes for this purpose. Baby wipes, even the unscented variety, do have an odor that can attract animals to the letterbox after you've rehidden the box. A better (and less expensive) choice is to simply pack a few dampened paper towels in a plastic bag.
bearingSee degree.
benchmarkingAn outdoors activity that involves finding specific geographic points identified and used by the National Geodetic Survey to aid in land surveying and civil engineering. Usually a GPS unit is required in order to find a benchmark. Once found a photo is taken of the benchmark to record the find (see photo). SEE ALSO: Benchmark Hunting on
bikleA bicycler "muggle" encountered while letterboxing. See non-boxer.
blacklisted letterboxA letterbox that is present, but the person has not only not asked for permission to plant, but has actually been asked to remove the box and they just moved it and made it WOM. You go after these boxes at your own risk. Blacklisted letterboxes may not be posted on, as they are contrary to our Terms of Use.
blazeSee trail blaze.
blessingProcess of sprinkling leaves or other forest debris over the hiding place of a letterbox to make the spot look more natural. The box should be completely hidden from view before blessing it. Attributed to Don & Gwen.
bonus boxA letterbox with a clue that is not published, but rather hidden inside another letterbox. Usually a bonus box will be hidden near the host letterbox. See also cuckoo clue.
bookbindingMany letterboxers make their own journals for their boxes. A few simple bookbinding techniques can be employed to create artful, attractive and functional letterbox logs. SEE ALSO: Simple Bookbinding Bookmaking: a single-signature pamphlet Five-stitch Bookbinding The 4-Needle Book Bind It Fast
box in, bag outA principle of letterboxing aimed at helping to maintain the natural environment in which letterboxing takes place. It's a good habit to carry a trash bag with you as you letterbox, in order to pick up any trash you find along the way. If all letterboxes would practice "Box in, bag out," it would have a significant impact on the outdoors. See Leave No Trace. SEE ALSO: Outdoor Ethics for Letterboxers
brush markersBrush markers are colored felt tip pens with a brush shaped tip that allow letterboxers to color rubber stamps with one or more colors. The gently tapered point allows for fine detail or broad coverage. Marvy Brush Markers are an excellent choice for letterboxing and are available in sets or individually in 108 colors.
bushwhackingTo make your way through woods without following a path, often by cutting down or trampling bushes and branches in the way. Letterboxers frown on bushwhacking, since it can leave behind indelible damage to sensitive ecological areas, particularly when dozens of letterboxers bushwhack their way to the site of a hidden letterbox. See Leave No Trace.
BYOIAn acronym for Bring Your Own Ink. Many letterboxes don't include an ink pad even when the clues don't include a BYOI note.
cacheA hiding place especially for concealing and preserving items. Every letterbox can be considered a cache, but more typically this word is used as a shorthand for a geocache.
cache boxingWhen a letterboxer finds a geocache they can stamp their personal stamp in the log, find a suitable trinket in the cache to ink up and stamp in their personal journal then carefully cleaning the ink from the trinket before returning it to the cache. Concept credited to Der Mad Stamper.
cairnA pile of rocks that is used as a boundary marker, a memorial, or a burial site. Letterboxes are sometimes hidden in a cairn. See suspicious pile of rocks. SEE ALSO: The Shipwreck Trail Letterboxes, Redondo Beach, CA
caretakerA letterboxer who has volunteered to maintain an abandoned letterbox.
carvingSee stamp carving.
cat's eye ink padsA small ink pad, such as ColorBox's Pigment Brush Pads (see photo), in the shape of an cat's eye. These come in a wide array of colors and are small enough that several can easily be carried on a letterboxing quest.
cipherAs applied to letterboxing, it is a method of encoding clues to make them more challenging by substituting or rearranging letters. Rumkin's Cipher Tools, The Black Chamber or Hanging Hyena
clitter fieldA field of large boulders than have tumbled down the slope of a hill either by erosion or deposited by a glacier.
clueThe key to finding a letterbox. A clue can be created in many different formats: in rhyme, as a riddle, as a story, with pictures or cartoons, or as directions with paces or compass headings. The only limit is your imagination! You can find clues to most U.S. letterboxes listed on the Letterboxing North America web site, though you may occasionally find them elsewhere. See cuckoo clue.
cluesheetA printed copy of clues to one or more letterboxes.
code of conductIt's been said that letterboxing has no rules, but there are established guides to codes of conduct for safe and respectful letterboxing. See Letterboxing Code of Conduct.
compassA device used to determine geographic direction, with a needle that points to Magnetic North (see magnetic declination). An orienteering compass with a movable dial (see photo) is the minimum requirement for letterboxing, but sighting and lensatic compasses can be more useful in pinpointing specific degree coordinates. Electronic compasses are also available, but are more sensitive to external magnetic interference. Your compass will get a good workout, so invest in a high-quality, durable compass, avoiding cheap compasses without liquid-filled dial (these rarely provide accurate readings). To find a certain bearing, turn the dial of a compass until your desired degree is aligned with the direction-of-travel arrow pointing ahead, and turn the entire compass until the needle matches the orienting arrow underneath. Find a landmark and follow the direction-of-travel arrow to it, and repeat. SEE ALSO: Compassing 101
confiscated letterboxAn unauthorized box that has been removed from its hiding place by park authorities. See National Park Service.
Connecticut State Forest Letterboxing ProgramAn official project in Connecticut. Visit five letterboxes and receive a special patch; visit 30, get a trekking pole! (More information.)
coordinatesA set of two numbers used to determine the position of a point with reference to latitude and longitude. Latitude is the distance north or south from the earth's equator measured through 90 degrees, while longitude is the distance measured east or west from the prime meridian at Greenwich, England, to the meridian passing through a position. Both latitude and longitude are expressed in degrees (or hours), minutes, and seconds.
cootieA small letterbox that is passed surreptitously from letterboxer to letterboxer. As created by Pandora and Camp Fire Lady, cooties originally began as an activity for kids at letterboxing gatherings, in which kids recorded their thumbprints in a cootie and secretly passed it along to another child or adult. Cooties have evolved into a very small letterbox that can be hidden in a pocket or backpack of another letterboxer, and thus travel from individual to individual. See also flea and trailer hitch.
cuckoo clueA clue to a letterbox that travels from letterbox to letterbox, usually within a small area near the location of the cuckoo clue letterbox. When you find a cuckoo clue, you should take it with you and deposit it in another nearby letterbox (or copy it down and leave it in the original letterbox). Cuckoo clues are not published on the Web, and should not be publicly discussed. See also bonus box.
DartmoorDartmoor PhotoA national park in southern England where letterboxing began in 1854. Today, there are thousands of letterboxes planted in Dartmoor. Dartmoor was the setting of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles. SEE ALSO: Dartmoor National Park Letterboxing Dartmoor Letterboxing Club Dartmoor Letterboxing Org History of Dartmoor Letterboxing
declinationSee magnetic declination.
degreeAlso known as the bearing, a unit that measures longitude or latitude, equal to 1/360 of a great circle around the globe. See compass.
difficultyA rating assigned to a letterbox to help potential searchers understand the distances that may be involved in hiking to a box, the rigors of the terrain, and how tough the clue may be to solve. SEE ALSO: Letterbox Difficulty Rating Calculator
discussion groupsThere are a number of sites and lists online where you can discuss or ask questions about letterboxing. Some are national in scope, while others are focused on a geographical region of the country. Be sure to Read the FAQ before you post your questions about getting started. SEE ALSO: LBNA Discussion List Letterboxing.Info Discussion Group Directory
doggleA dog you encounter while letterboxing, usually followed by muggles.
DouggerwareSee Silent Douggerware.
drive-by letterboxA letterbox that requires very little or no walking in order to find, generally planted by the roadside or very near a parking area. Drive-by letterboxes can typically be found in only a few minutes.
dye inkA form of ink used on ink pads. Some letterboxers prefer dye ink because it absorbs into paper and is quick drying. But because dye inks are water-based, they can bleed, or run if stamped during wet conditions. See pigment ink.
Easter EggA term used to refer to an undocumented surprise or tidbit that creators have hidden in their creation for you to find and enjoy. This is most commonplace in computer software, but can also be found in movies, music, art, books, or even your watch. See Easter Egg (Virtual). Likewise in the hobby of letterboxing, this term refers to an undocumented clue or letterbox such as a bonus box or cuckoo clue.
ecoscavengingAn activity related to geocaching and letterboxing, but with no physical cache to be found at the destination. Participants swap electronic trading cards to reward successful ecoscavenge quests. SEE ALSO:
Elmer's Stix AllElmer's Stix All PhotoAn excellent glue for mounting rubber stamps. Resists water, heat and cold. Flexible, impact resistant, fills gaps. Easy to use and safe, will not bond skin. Nonflammable, no solvents. Bonds to wood, porcelai n, ceramics, canvas, glass, metal, leather, rubber, most plastics, laminates and polystyrene foam. Requires 24 hours to fully set.
eraserRubber stamps can be carved from just about any eraser. Dollar stores often carry inexpensive white plastic or pink novelty erasers, but it can often be cheaper to buy a sheet of any soft block carving material and cut it into appropriate-sized pieces.
eventA gathering of letterboxers that is usually commemorated with a special rubber stamp created for the event. Letterboxers often append the number of these event stamps to their PFX count with the letter "E." SEE ALSO: Upcoming Events and Gatherings What does "P17 F43 X18" mean?
exchangeA rubber stamp impression received from another letterboxer, usually at an event or in a chance meeting on the trails, and recorded with the letter "X" in a letterboxer's PFX count. SEE ALSO: What does "P17 F43 X18" mean?
F countSee PFX count.
first finderThe first letterboxer to find a new find. Some individuals leave a First Finder's Certificate in their newly-planted letterboxes to reward the first person to find the box. Some letterboxers keep track of their First Finds by adding the letters "FF" to their PFX count.
flashlightA flashlight (with fresh batteries!) can be useful in looking into dark tree hollows or rock ledges. If you get caught out on the trail after dark, a flashlight might help you find your way back to your vehicle, as well.
fleaA small letterbox, that can travel in any manner: being passed from letterboxer to letterboxer (like a cootie), being dropped off in a letterbox (like a hitchhiker), or traveling in a hitchhiker (like a parasite). Concept created by Judith.
foundA letterbox that has been discovered and recorded with the letter "F" in a letterboxer's PFX count. You can only find a letterbox once, no matter how many times you visit the same box. Hitchhikers you pick up in letterboxes can also be recorded as finds. SEE ALSO: What does "P17 F43 X18" mean? What is a Hitchhiker?
gatheringSee event.
geocachingAn adventure game for GPS users. Individuals and organizations hide caches in various locations all over the world and share the coordinates of these caches on the internet. With a handheld GPS unit, geocachers seek out the cache, and record their find in the cache's logs. Often, small prize items are included in the cache, which may be exchanged with an item brought by the geocacher. SEE ALSO:
global positioning systemSee GPS.
GPSAbbreviation for global positioning system. A network of satellites in orbit around the earth that constantly beam special signals back down to the planet. With the use of a special receiver (often a portable, handheld model), an individual can determine his/her geographic coordinates, often accurate to a few dozen feet. Geocachers uses GPS units to find hidden caches. See geocaching.
GPS unitAlso known as GPSr. Handheld (or, in the case of airplanes or automobiles, dashboard-mounted) units used to receive signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites. Inexpensive GPS units can be purchased for about $100; high-end units may cost a thousand dollars. Major manufacturers of GPS units are Garmin, Trimble and Magellan.
hand carvedA rubber stamp that has been created from scratch with a knife or other carving tool. While you can use store-bought commercially created stamp for your personal stamp or planted letterboxes, a hand carved stamp is generally more highly regarded by letterboxers. It's not hard to create a simple stamp by hand, even if you're not artistic! SEE ALSO: Carving 101 by Ryan Carpen How to Make a Rubber Stamp by Der Mad Stamper Links to Stamp Carving Resources
headlampheadlamp PhotoA lightweight flashlight designed to be worn on your head.
highpointingAn outdoors activity that involves making visits to the highest points in counties, states, countries or continents. SEE ALSO: State Highpointers Club County Highpointers Association America's Roof
hitchhikerA letterbox with no permanent home. A hitchhiker is carried by a letterboxer from one box to another, where it is left for the next visitor to find. Hitchhikers are recorded as finds in a letterboxer's PFX count. Hitchhikers sometimes have their own plastic boxes and are hidden on top of or next to an existing letterbox, while others travel in a plastic zip lock bag and are meant to be stowed inside the host letterbox. SEE ALSO: What is a Hitchhiker? Hitchhiker Tips and Etiquette Letterbox Travellers Discussion Group
hitchhiker hostelA special letterbox whose primary purpose is to facilitate the exchange of hitchhikers. In order to take a hitchhiker from the hostel, you must leave one. SEE ALSO: Camping Out Under the Stars, CT Hoosier Hostel - Shady Rest, IN Transportation, ME T-Stop, MA I Love NY, NY Inn of the End, RI Packrat, TN Beehive, TX Wisconsin, WI South Mountain, PA
hostA letterbox in which a hitchhiker or cuckoo clue is placed.
image transferBefore you carve a rubber stamp, you must first create an image on the face of the carving material. While you might draw an image by hand, there are three other common methods of transferring an image to the rubber. First, you can use a trick you probably did in grade school - draw an picture on paper (or trace on tracing paper) with a soft pencil, turn the tracing paper over and rub the image onto the surface of the rubber. Second, print an image from your computer in black on an inkjet or laser printer (some photocopies will work as well), and press the image onto the material with an iron set on a low heat setting (so you don't harden the rubber). Finally, print an image on a laser printer or toner-based photocopier, place it face down on the rubber, and then use a cotton ball dampened with acetone (nail polish remover) to press gently down on the back of the paper and transfer the image. Experiment first to find out which methods work best for you.
ink padAn inked pad used to apply ink to a rubber stamp. There are two main varieties of pads: pigment ink and dye ink. A pad with a raised surface (available at art supply stores) can be useful for inking large stamps, while smaller cat’s eye pads (made by Color Box) can be convenient to carry. Many letterboxers carry several different colors of pads with them to give their journals a bit of variety, while some carry colored water-based markers in order to carefully ink a single stamp with several different colors.
joggleA jogger "muggle" encountered while letterboxing. See non-boxer.
journalSee personal journal.
LbNASee Letterboxing North America.
LbNA Announcement ListAn e-mail list that automatically distributes announcements whenever new letterboxes are entered on the LbNA web site. There is no discussion on the list; once you've subscribed, any replies you make to messages will cause you to be removed from the list. Visit lbox-announc Yahoo! Group to join the list.
LbNA Discussion ListSee discussion groups.
LbNA logo patchLbNA logo patch PhotoAn embroidered cloth path with the LbNA logo, available for purchase.
LbNA merit badgesEmbroidered cloth patches that commemorate letterboxing milestones, such as finding or planting 100 boxes. No longer available.
Leave No TracePrinciples of outdoor recreation that are intended to preserve pristine wilderness and minimize the impact of human contact. Letterboxers should endeavor to embrace these ideals. See box in, bag out. SEE ALSO: Outdoor Ethics for Letterboxers Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
letterbookA letterbox in the form of a book, often planted as library letterboxes. A letterbook is typically made by hollowing out an old book in order to create a secret compartment to hold the stamp and journal.
letterboxA hidden stash whose location is found only by following clues. A traditional letterbox contains, at minimum, a rubber stamp and logbook. Other items that may be included are a page describing letterboxing for anyone who accidentally finds the box, stamped, pre-addressed postcards to be mailed to the box owner to let them know the box has been found or needs maintenance, a First Finder's certificate, an ink pad and a pencil or pen. A letterbox's contents are usually packed in two sturdy zip lock plastic bags, and then placed in a waterproof container to protect from the elements. See bonus box, drive-by letterbox, hitchhiker, letterbook, mystery letterbox, personal letterbox, traveller, urban letterbox, virtual letterbox, letterbox series, octopus letterbox.
letterbox seriesTwo or more letterboxes planted as a group. A series can be set up so that they can all be found on a single hike, or as separate quests that are linked together thematically. Sometimes, the individual stamps for each letterbox in the series make up a single larger image.
letterboxerAny person who seeks out hidden letterboxes, and/or who plants their own letterboxes.
Letterboxer Trading Card or LTCLetterboxer Trading Card or LTC PhotoLetterboxer Trading Cards (LTCs)are a variant of ATCs or Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). ATCs are small pieces of artwork created to trade with other artists. So, LTCs are created with the intention of trading with other letterboxers. The difference is that a LTC must include a stamped image; other embellishments can be used but a LTC must have a stamped image as part of the art on the front of the card. LTCs have become very popular on Atlas Quest where they were were first introduced. You can see examples of some of the cards on these blogs: Geometry Junkie Dixie's "Art In Hand" Draygonflies
Letterboxer's CompanionLetterboxer's Companion PhotoThe Letterboxer\'s Companion is a complete introduction to letterboxing. It includes a history of letterboxing, instructions on making personal stamps and letterboxes, letterboxing etiquette and conventions, basic land navigation techniques, writing and following clues--everything the aspiring letterboxer needs to get started in this fascinating, family-friendly pastime.
letterboxingA hobby that combines elements of hiking, treasure hunting and creative expression. Participants seek hidden letterboxes by following clues, and then stamp a record of discovery into their personal journals. SEE ALSO: A Short History of Letterboxing What is Letterboxing? Getting Started
Letterboxing North AmericaLetterboxing North America PhotoAbbreviated LbNA, an informal, loose-knit group of letterboxers. Volunteers manage this website, as well as a discussion list. There is no official membership, headquarters, officers, or operations -- anyone who participates in the LbNA's activities is a member. SEE ALSO: LbNA Web Site LbNA Discussion List Donate to LbNA
Letterboxing Order of the Purple HeartA special letterbox awarded to members of Letterboxing North America who are wounded in the act of letterboxing. To receive the Order, post your true-life story on the LBNA Discussion List. SEE ALSO: Letterboxing Order of the Purple Heart
Letterboxing WebRingA collection of Web sites related to letterboxing. Taking a tour of the WebRing is a great way to explore the activity for the first time. If you establish your own letterboxing Web page, you can join the WebRing, too. SEE ALSO: Letterboxing WebRing
letterboxing.infoSilent Doug's wonderfully informative website is devoted to providing information and resources for letterboxers, particularly if you're new to the hobby. Most of the entries in this glossary originally came from
library letterboxMany public libraries host letterboxes (often letterbooks) on an official or quasi-official basis. Some even create special programs for children using letterboxes to encourage reading and deductive reasoning skills. SEE ALSO: Oneida (NY) Public Library Harrison (OH) Library Kimball Library Letterbook, Randolph, VT Onondaga County (NY) Public Library Cross' Mills Public Library Charlestown, RI New Gloucester (ME) Library Fuller Public Library Hillsborough, NH
listingYour membership may reference the number of listings that you own. Each listing represents one clue which may reference one or more letterbox. Multiple letterboxes in one listing is known as a letterbox series
litterboxA letterbox that has been abandoned by its owner, and now nothing more than trash in the woods.
logbooklogbook PhotoAlso known simply as a "log". A book included in a letterbox to record visitors to that box. A logbook can be a simple notepad or a handmade book, but it should be made of paper that is thick enough so that stamped images don't bleed through to the other side. Logbook can also refer to a personal journal is used to record a letterboxer's own adventures.
magnetic declinationSince the earth's magnetic field is not constant, a compass needle doesn't actually point to the true geographic North pole, but aligns itself with the magnetic force at your location on the globe. Declination varies from 0 to 20 degrees in the continental U.S., and as much as 30 degrees in the populated regions of the world. Maps are oriented to Geographic North (also called "True North), so if accurate navigation is your aim, compass bearings must be adjusted to compensate for declination. Most letterboxers ignore magnetic declination and use Magnetic North when creating clues.
mapLetterboxers often need to use maps, either trail maps or road maps, to find the general or specific location of a letterbox. is a useful tool for driving directions and local street maps, while can provide free topographical maps.
MasterCarveMasterCarve PhotoA white, vinyl soft block carving material made by Staedtler, suitable for making rubber stamps.
MIAAcronym for "Missing in Action." A letterbox that appears to be gone from its hiding place. See missing letterbox.
microboxA very small letterbox, sometimes in a container as small as a film canister. SEE ALSO: Flyfisher's Micro-Letterboxes
missing letterboxA letterbox that is no longer in its hiding place. Only the planter of a letterbox can declare it to be missing, however. Seekers who cannot find a letterbox should not presume that it is indeed missing. Many so-called "missing" letterboxes were later confirmed to be in their hiding places all along. Letterboxers may report to the LbNA discussion group and to the letterbox owner that it is possibly missing.
mountA piece of wood or other material on which a hand carved rubber stamp is affixed. Mounted stamps are more durable and often provide a better stamped image in a log or personal journal. However some letterboxer's personal experience is that mounted stamps often provide a WORSE stamped image in a journal. This is especially true of a wood backing that has warped and is a particular problem on larger stamps. SEE ALSO: Mounting Your Rubber Stamps
muggledThe term used by some letterboxers to describe a letterbox that has been damanged by non-boxers. Derived from the term "muggle" in Harry Potter stories that describes ordinary non-magical people. The term was first used in geocaching.
mystery letterboxA letterbox that does not provide a specific geographic location in its clues. The seeker must first conduct research or solve a puzzle in order to determine the location of the letterbox. It is considered bad form to give away the location of a mystery letterbox.
National Park Service(NPS). The federal agency requires a permit from a park manager for any letterboxes (or geocaches) planted in any of the parks under its jurisdiction. They have been known to remove letterboxes that have been planted in their parks without a permit, and even issue citations to offenders. (See confiscated letterbox.) A very few National Parks have allowed letterboxes to be planted within their boundaries, so you should contact the park rangers to obtain a permit before planting any box in a National Park. Note: National Forests are under the jurisdiction of a different branch of the federal government, and thus have different rules regarding letterboxing; generally, National Forests are more amenable to the activity.
non-boxerAnyone that is not a letterboxer. In busy parks, you may have to create a diversion or try later if there are too many non-boxers in the area. Stealth is required in the presence of non-boxers to avoide having the letterbox discovered and, perhaps, damaged. Sometimes shortened to "noxer."
octopus letterboxThe criteria for an octopus letterbox: 1. The clues refer to an area, not the exact route to the letterbox. Clues (or additional letterboxes) are planted, in the defined area, to lead people to the main letterbox. 2. The area is well defined. 3. Environmental impact is defined for the letterbox. Leave no Trace, whenever possible. Concept attributed to Morgun.
orienteeringAn activity that entails using a map and compass to reach certain locations, often within a certain time limit. See sport orienteering. SEE ALSO: US Orienteering Federation
orphanA letterbox that has been planted in an area far from the letterboxer's home, so that the planter is unable to provide maintenance for the box. Often, a local letterboxer will "adopt" the box and care for it.
P countSee PFX count.
paceTraditionally, a pace is two steps - approximately 5 feet, and most letterboxers use that definition. (After all, if you mean to measure one footstep, that's a step!) However, to be clear, letterboxers should indicate their definition of a pace if they choose to use the term in their clues... unless they want to keep us guessing! SEE ALSO: How Long Is a Pace?
parasiteA hitchhiker that travels with other hitchhikers. Parasites are very small (since they need to accompany a hitchhiker, and are stamped in as hitchhikers into both the host hitchhikers and letterboxes that they visit.
personal journalpersonal journal PhotoA letterboxer's private book used to record the rubber stamp impressions of letterboxes he or she has found. A letterboxer's journal might also include personal stamps exchanged with other letterboxers, as well as and hitchhikers and event stamps. Journals should have thick unlined pages (so that ink doesn't bleed through), and a hard cover (to make it easier to get a good stamp impression when you're out in the woods). A log is a book found in a letterbox to record visitors to that box.
personal letterboxSee personal traveller.
personal stampAlso known as signiture stamp. A letterboxer's private rubber stamp, usually hand carved or created expressly for that individual. When you find a letterbox, you use this stamp to record your visit in the box's log. You can also exchange an impression of your personal stamp with other letterboxers you meet on the trail, and record the exchange in your PFX count.
personal travelerA letterbox that is not hidden, but carried by a letterboxer, complete with a rubber stamp and log. Other letterboxers "find" the box when they meet the carrier on the trail or at an event and are invited to stamp in. Some letterboxers require seekers to solve a riddle, ask a specific question or mention a password in order to stamp into the traveler. SEE ALSO: What is a personal traveller?
PFX countA record of boxes that a letterboxer has planted, found, or exchanged, indicated in this fashion: P38 F109 X22. Some letterboxers keep track of their hitchhikers with an "HH," or virtual letterboxes found with a "V." Some even record other (often goofy) statistics with other letters. SEE ALSO: What does "P17 F43 X18" mean?
pigment inkA form of ink used on ink pads. Some letterboxers avoid pigment ink because it sits on top of the paper and takes longer to dry, but others appreciate its water resistance, permanent archival quality and more intense color. See dye ink.
plantedA letterbox that has been hidden, and recorded with the letter "P" in your PFX count. Sometimes "placed" is used (erroneously), but "planted" is the traditionally correct term. SEE ALSO: What does "P17 F43 X18" mean?
planterThe letteboxer that created and planted a letterbox.
plumber’s gasketInexpensive thin rubber material that can be used to carve rubber stamps. Tools must be especially sharp when carving this martieral. SEE ALSO: Care for Your Tools and Supplies
postal letterboxAlso known as a "snail mail letterbox." A letterbox that travels by U.S. Mail, from letterboxer to letterboxer. Letterboxers often coordinate the travels of a postal letterbox on the postal letterboxing discussion group. SEE ALSO: What is Postal Letterboxing?
postcardsMany letterboxers include a supply of stamped, pre-addressed, postcards in their newly planted hitchhikers or letterboxes. The first finders and subsequent visitors can return the postcard to notify the planter that the clues were correct, that the box is in good shape or requires maintenance, or to let them know about the hitchhiker's travels.
private letterboxSee unpublished letterbox.
Purple Heart letterboxSee Letterboxing Order of the Purple Heart.
PZ KutPZ Kut PhotoA soft block carving material available from Stampeaz. It is a pure white or orange vinyl carving block that is firm, yet does not crumble.
questingSynonymous with letterboxing, often used in reference to local programs such as Valley Quest and South Shore Quests. SEE ALSO: Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts
rehidingThe process of putting the letterbox back in it's hiding spot so that it's not accidentally found by a non-boxer. When you are rehiding the letterbox, allow time to back up and check the location from all angles. Be absolutely sure the box can't be seen accidentally. Remember to rehide it better than when you found it with the baggies and letterbox securely closed.
repair kitMany letterboxers carry a small stock of supplies when seeking new boxes, in order to make repairs to a letterbox that may be in need of care. This repair kit might include pencils, a spare log, sturdy zip lock bags or even a waterproof container to replace an original that has cracked. Making minor repairs to a letterbox when you're out on the trail can help prolong the life of the box and ensure that others can enjoy the letterbox, too. Before making dramatic repairs, however, always consult the letterbox's owner.
RetiredMost people use "Retired" in the letterbox name or on the clues to indicate that the box is...well...Retired. In other words, it has stopped working for a living and moved to a gated community in Florida to play shuffleboard and make waves on the condo committee ;) A better way to Retire a letterbox is for the Planter to Archive it into the LbNA Basement. Boxers also use "Pulled," and "Missing" the same way. To put it simply, box is no longer there. Don't look for it.
rubber stampRubber stamps are used in letterboxing in two ways. Letterboxers have their own personal stamps, usually hand carved or custom created for that particular letterboxer. Each letterbox also has its own stamp, which letterboxers record in their personal journals.
Safety-KutSafety-Kut PhotoA grey soft block carving material, available in sheets at art supply stores, and used to carve letterbox rubber stamps. Available online from Nasco.
Sandford Artgum eraserA type of eraser that is tan and crumbly, is very easy to carve into a rubber stamp and mount.
scavengingThe process of looking for letterboxes in 'likely places' without the use of clues. This is most common in Dartmoor where many tors are dotted with several dozen letterboxes at a time. Most letterboxers on Dartmoor start this way since the official clue book isn't available until you've already found 100 letterboxes and scavenging is the quickest and easiest way to get your first 100 finds.
signature stampSee personal stamp.
Silent DouggerwareSilent Douggerware PhotoA brand of plastic container made by Holiday Housewares in their Milan Classic line, so named by Lightnin Bug after Silent Doug's online recommendation of the containers as being very sturdy, waterproof and inexpensive -- exceptionally suitable for letterboxes. Typically available at dollar stores, the square variety can be found with lids in an assortment of colors (particularly prized are the green lids) in the 4-cup size for $1 or less apiece.
SitRepA "Situation Report" posted to the LbNA discussion group with the details of letterboxes that you've found, were unable to find, or that require maintenance. Use of the term is found objectionable by some.
slackboxingOr slackboxer. The practice of accompanying one or more letterboxers on a letterbox quest but not participating in the reading or deciphering of the clues, identifying landmarks, reading trail maps or otherwise participating in the letterboxing hunt. Extreme slackboxers may also have others stamp into their journals or the letterbox log, as well.
Smithsonian MagazineCredited with starting the American letterboxing movement with an article in its April 1998 issue entitle "They Live and Breathe Letterboxing", about the activity in Dartmoor.
snail mail letterboxSee postal letterbox.
social trailAn unofficial trail that develops off the main trail or path to/from a letterbox hiding spot after several people have accessed the box using the same route. Social trails are generally considered undesirable as they not only give away the location of the letterbox, but also are contrary to leave-no-trace practices. To avoid the development of social trails, try to take a roundabout route to the letterbox hiding spot and avoid the path of least resistance.
soft blockAny rubber-like carving material used for creating rubber stamps. Commercial varieties include PZ Kut, Speedy Cut, MasterCarve, and Speedy Stamp. Staedtler Mars drafting erasers are also often used, but any pencil eraser can be used as well. Plumber’s gasket, available at hardware and home stores, is another material preferred by some carvers.
South Shore QuestsA series of letterbox-style treasure hunts on Boston's South Shore. SEE ALSO: Valley Quest Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts
Speedball bladesActually known as the Speedball Linoleum Cutters, these are any of the six blades for the Speedball knife. Blades are interchangeable and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The #1 blade, (the "liner") is probably most useful for finely-detailed stamp carving.
Speedball knifeSpeedball knife PhotoThis is a very popular tool for rubber stamp carvers, featuring a handle fit for the palm of the hand and interchangeable blades. It is designed to be pushed through the carving medium, rather than pulled. Speedball Linozips are also available, blades that fit into the Speedball handle but are pulled instead of pushed.
Speedball LinozipsA set of cutting blades for the Speedball knife that are designed to be pulled rather than pushed.
Speedy-CarveSpeedy-Carve PhotoMade by Speedball. Affectionately known by letterboxers as "the pink stuff." A soft block carving material, pink in color, made by the Speedball Corporation and available at art supply stores. This is one of the most popular and durable carving materials used by letterboxers.
Speedy-CutAn ivory-colored soft block carving material, available in sheets at art supply stores, and used to carve letterbox rubber stamps. However, many carvers avoid Speedy Cut since it crumbles easily; it's better suited for carving block images that have few details.
spoilerAny information posted to a letterboxing discussion group (or any other public location) that interprets clues, provides extra hints or otherwise helps give away the location of a letterbox, thereby spoiling the enjoyment of the search for others. This breach of etiquette is particularly bad for mystery letterboxes and hitchhikers.
SPORAcronym for suspicious pile of rocks. Also known as an URP for "unnatural pile of rocks."
Sport OrienteeringAlso known as "Sport O," is a sport combining off-trail running along with map and compass navigation through an unfamiliar course. See orienteering. SEE ALSO: US Orienteering Federation
Staedtler Mars EraserWhite plastic erasers that are a popular soft block carving material used for making rubber stamps. The smaller size is easy to find; the "Grand" size provides a larger carving area but can be difficult to locate.
stamp carvingA whole hobby has arisen around the art of rubber stamp carving, and not just by letterboxers. Enthusiasts carve stamps using erasers as well as commercial soft block carving materials, using Speedball knives, pen knives or Dremel wood carving tools. Part of the tradition of North American letterboxing is to create your own stamps; most letterboxers value finding a hand carved stamp much higher than a store-bought one. Stamp carving isn't all that difficult -- you just need to give it a try. SEE ALSO: Carving 101 by Ryan Carpen SpringChick's Stamp Carving Workshop How to Make a Rubber Stamp by Der Mad Stamper Links to Stamp Carving Resources
stamp padSee ink pad.
stamp upAlso known as stamp in. The process where a letterboxer puts their stamp image in the letterbox log and puts the letterbox stamp image in their personal journal.
stepA single footfall - approximately 30 inches. Some clues incorrectly use the word pace is used to mean a single step, although a pace should only be used to mean "two footfalls." SEE ALSO: How Long Is a Pace?
store-bought stampMost letterboxers find a store-bought rubber stamp to be less desirable than a hand carved stamp, no matter how crude or basic the handmade variety may be. However, if you find the perfect commercial stamp for a particular letterbox, you shouldn't hesitate to use it. Many beginning letterboxers use a store-bought stamp for their personal stamp when they just get started, and then switch to their own hand carved stamp after they've mastered the simple process of stamp carving.
suspicious pile of rocksAbbrevuated SPOR. A common letterboxing term for a pile of rocks used to hide a letterbox. See cairn. SEE ALSO: All Roads Lead to Rome Point Series
talk listSee discussion groups.
temporary stampA stamp left by a letterboxer in a letterbox planted by another letterboxer when they find the letterbox but it's rubber stamp is missing. The stamp should be clearly marked as temporary and the planter should be contacted immediately so that they can replace the stamp. A few letterboxers don't like the idea of someone "messing with their box" but most see this as a random act of kindness.
Test 'quotes' and "stuff" your's\"To come to the \'aid\' of their\'s party\"
tortor PhotoA high craggy hill, usually surrounded by clitter. There about 140 tors in Dartmoor.
trail blazetrail blaze PhotoA mark, usually painted, on a tree or rocks that indicates a trail. A trail blaze could be any color (or combination of colors) or shape, though most are narrow vertical rectangles. Trail blazes may also indicate when a trail changes direction.
trail nameMost letterboxers adopt a "trail name" which they use to sign letterbox logs. These sobriquets reflect some aspect of the letterboxer's personality, and can be humorous, light-hearted or straightforward. Personal stamps usually reflect this name, as well.
trailer hitchA letterbox that is handed from letterboxer to letterboxer who meet by chance or design. Concept originated by Poison Ivy. See also flea and cootie.
travelerA letterbox that has no fixed location, but rather is always on the move. Hitchhikers are sometimes consider travelers, though most often the term refers to a personal traveler, a private letterbox that is carried by a letterboxer and can be "found" when meeting the carrier on the trail or at an event.
traveling event boxA special letterbox that has no permanent home, but travels to letterboxing events and gatherings. Attendees can log the traveling event stamp in their personal journals, and usually record the find in their PFX count as an "E" (Event stamp).
trekking poleA specialized hiking stick used by serious hikers and backpackers. Trekking poles have fitted grips and are often collapsible, and occasionally even have built-in shock absorbers. Hikers who use trekking poles transfer some of their upper body weight to the pole with each step, relieving pressure on the lower extremities. The relaxed position of the forearm also helps the hiker to maintain an erect posture, which reduces strain on the lower back and spine.
triangulationTriangulation is used to locate your position when two or more prominent landmarks are visible. This is a common technique for Dartmoor letterboxes. You need to find the spot where two or more compass bearings intersect. Atlas Quest: Compass 101
unclaimed letterboxA letterbox whose owner can not currently be located. On the LbNA web site, caretakers can volunteer to maintain unclaimed letterboxes on a semi-permanent or permanent basis.
unpublished letterboxA letterbox with a clue that is not publicly available, but are distributed by word of mouth. You might create an unpublished letterbox in your own backyard for the enjoyment of houseguests, or provide clues to an unpublished letterbox only to other trusted letterboxers. You can include unpublished letterboxes in your PFX count.
urban letterboxA letterbox planted in a city or town, as opposed to in a forest or other wilderness area. These usually must be especially well-hidden so that they are not inadvertently discovered by passers-by, and letterboxers must exhibit additional caution when searching for them so as not to draw attention to the box.
Valley QuestA series of more than 175 letterbox-style treasure hunts in 40 towns in the Connecticut River Valley in Vermont and New Hampshire. The Valley Quests were among the first letterboxes planted in the U.S., and are available in book form from Vital Communities ( Questing has spread beyond the "valley" to 14 states and several countries. SEE ALSO: Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts
vampire boxAny box to which the route involves excessive contact with any form of thorned, spiked, or other blood-letting flora.
virtual letterboxAn online letterbox, with clues that must be deciphered by visiting Web pages. Once solved, a rubber stamp image may be awarded by e-mail or online. See the Virtual Letterboxing discussion group for links to virtual letterboxes and announcements of new creations.
waiver of liabilityLetterboxing, like any outdoors activity, carries risks. Poison ivy, sumac and oak may obscure a letterbox hiding place; snakes or spiders may live in the same nooks and crannies where letterboxes are hidden; mosquitos, deerflies or black flies may harass you in the woods, and trails may be dangerously steep or rocky -- just to name a few common hazards. Be familiar with the LbNA Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer before you embark on any letterbox quest.
walk-on letterboxA Walk-On letterbox is type of virtual letterbox. Clues must be followed to the specified physical location (Walk), but the stamp is obtained online (On). This type is useful when a box goes missing or if the area is too sensitive for placement of a physical box. Attributed to Silver Eagle. See Devil's Den Walk-On Letterbox
waterproof containerwaterproof container PhotoIn order to survive the elements, letterboxes need to be stored in some kind of weatherproof container. Plastic containers, such as those made by Rubbermaid and Tupperware, are often the top choice. Test carefully for a good water seal, though, and avoid using any container that was used to store food, such as larger peanut butter jars, since a lingering scent will attract animals who will almost certainly destroy your letterbox. See Silent Douggerware.
WOM letterboxSee word of mouth letterbox.
word of mouth letterboxA letterbox, the clues to which are distributed from person to person and not published in any public fashion.
work glovesCanvas or light suede work gloves often come in handy when turning over rocks when in search of a letterbox. They also provide protection when reaching into dark spaces where spiders or snakes might lurk. (It's always a good idea to poke a stick into any hole before reaching into it, however.)
X-acto knifeX-acto knife PhotoWhile many letterboxers prefer to use a Speedball knife to carve rubber stamps, a light duty #1 X-acto knife with a #11 blade may work just as well for others. X-acto knives are inexpensive and readily available at discount and crafts stores.
Special thanks to Silent Doug for contributing the entries from his glossary on