Around 1854, a gentleman placed his calling card in a bottle and stuck it in a bank at Cranmere Pool. Thus the hobby of letterboxing was born. In 1998, Smithsonian Magazine printed an article on the subject. The hobby swept across the seas and is taking the United States by storm, where in just 7 years over 20,000 trails have been created.
It’s easy to get started. First, you’ll need to carve your stamp. Carving the stamp is much easier than it sounds and should represent you, your personality, or family in some way. My stamp is a treasure chest filled with the word time, the most precious commodity in the world, yet cannot be bought or sold for all the gold in the world. X-acto knives work great for carving your stamp, or an assortment of wood carving tools can give you greater detail. For letterboxing kits or supplies check LetterboxAdventures.com.
After your stamp is finished you’ll need a journal for collecting stamp images, an ink pad, a pen, and a compass that is helpful as many trails require the use of one. Now, go online to Letterboxing North America. Click on clues, then on the state or country you want to letterbox in. Pick a trail that sounds good for you—some are hikes of different degrees, some are drive-by boxes, and others are hidden in urban areas that you may pass everyday. Click on the Trail Name and print out the clues. Follow the clues to the letterbox. Most trails take you to scenic overlooks, through pieces of history, or someone’s favorite spot.
Once you find the letterbox, which is hidden under rocks or in a tree usually, take the contents out. There should be a journal and a stamp. You take the stamp you found and stamp your journal. You take the stamp you carved and stamp the journal you found in the trail box. Its always nice to date both journals too. The surprise of what is carved on the stamp you’re hunting for is always fun to see. It usually pertains to something about the trail.
Now, you had so much fun hunting for the letterbox, you’ll want to create your own trail... or two! After you hide your trail box, list your clues online so other participants can hunt for your box! Collecting homespun stamps in the trail journals is a fun. You will be surprised how far some people travel to hunt letterboxes—they are planning vacations around it! Letterboxing—it’s the healthy addiction.