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Letterboxing Information

Introduction To Letterboxing

Welcome to letterboxing! Letterboxes are everywhere. You can find them tucked away in tiny towns and buried deep inside the biggest cities all over the world. Who knows, you might walk right by a letterbox or two every day.

Letterboxing provides you with an opportunity to explore your area. When you are traveling, letterboxes can even guide your adventures. Hide your very own letterboxes to share the places you love with others.

You will soon find that you think about letterboxing all the time. You might even catch yourself planning your route home around the location of the newest clue in your area. Don`t worry. This is normal. People around the world are completely hooked on letterboxing.

Once you figure it all out, share letterboxing with your friends. You might think your comic book loving, computer addicted neighbor could care less. You will be pleasantly surprised when they begin letterboxing daily.

Whether you plan to letterbox solo or you want to get your friends and family involved in a community hobby, letterboxing is perfect. Kids love hunting down letterboxes and finding stamps. If you prefer your alone time, letterboxing helps you escape reality. Who knows, you might meet your new best friend or your future spouse out on the trail.

Singpost letter box nearby

The benefits of letterboxing are endless. Not only will you have an excellent conversation starter, you:

• Exercise regularly without even thinking about it.

• Get your creative juices flowing by looking at intricately carved stamps and designing your very own.

• Give your brain quite a workout by figuring out some complex clues.

• Meet new people who are also excited about letterboxing.

The letterboxing community is very supportive. Newbies all over the world have access to hints, tips, and suggestions from experienced letterboxers. Who knows, maybe a fellow letterboxer will take you under their wing as you get started in your new hobby.=

What Is Letterboxing?

The concept of letterboxing is simple. Consider the letterboxer as a treasure hunter of sorts. Each letterbox is a treasure waiting to be found. You never know where the treasure might be tucked away. Your local health food store, coffee shop, restaurant, or park could hold countless numbers of letterboxes.

Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publiclyplaces and distribute clues to finding the box in catalogs, on one of web sites. Individual letterboxes usually contain a notebook and rubber stamp. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox`s stamp and leave an impression of their personal stamp on the letterbox`s logbook. Proof of having found the box and letting subsequent letterboxers see who have visited.

Not all letterboxes are outside. With the increasing popularity of letterboxing, many businesses host letterboxes. Other letterboxes are handicap accessible. Indoor and accessible letterboxes open this hobby up to many who would find treasure hunting out of their comfort zones or their abilities.

History of Letterboxing

Letterboxing is gaining popularity at an incredible rate. This global hobby is firmly rooted in England. While the hobby has evolved from its simple origins, modern letterboxing mimics the movement of letters from one box to another. For 150 years, dedicated letterboxes have created, hidden, hunted, and maintained their precious letterboxes. Interest in letterboxing in the U.S. is considered to have started with a article in the Smithsonian Magazine in April 1998.

Types of Letterboxes

Letterboxing is no longer the simple quest for a hidden box full of letters. Modern letterboxes come in all shapes and sizes. Clues vary in difficulty and the rules for each box can vary. When you find a letterbox, follow the rules of the type of letterbox you find.

There are many different kinds of letterboxes, each with some specific distinction. These include:

Traditional Boxes

A normal letterbox, hidden and uses clue to find it. These boxes are the most common type of letterbox. There are approximately 140,000 traditional letterboxes on record. A typical box contains the log book and a stamp. Occasionally, you will find other letterboxes within a traditional letterbox.

Mystery boxes

These are usually traditional boxes, but these 'mystery' boxes have either vague starting areas. Clues come in the form of poems, stories, and codes. Many mystery boxes have two sets of clues. The first set indicates the starting location of the clue. The second clue may or may not be as difficult as the first clue. This clue will indicate the location of the letterbox in relation to the starting point.

Bonus Box


The clue for these are usually found in a traditional box as an extra one to find. Usually planted in the same area as the traditional that hosts its clue. Clues can be distributed in any way.

Hitchhikers Boxes

A travelling letterbox, it is placed in a traditional letterbox for another boxer to find. When found, it is stamped just like a traditional letterbox, but is then carried with the boxer to the next box.

Hitchhikers are not to be confused with unidentified stamps in a traditional letterbox. Many letterboxers include an additional stamp to indicate when their box was hidden. This unidentified stamp cannot be logged as a find.


Like a combination of a hitchhiker and a cootie. You can either put in a traditional letterbox, like a hitchhiker, or put it on a person, like a cootie. Fleas can be avoided in the same way as cooties, don`t provide anyone with an opportunity to tuck one into your bag.


Online letterboxes; actually a scavenger hunt of sorts through different websites, collecting answers to questions posted as the clues to the box. Answers sometimes are unscrambled or simply emailed to the creator the final answer is put in a blank in a web address, which takes the finder to the image online. While many refuse to acknowledge these letterboxes, they are an excellent way to entertain children or practice writing clues. If you are unable to get out to find letterboxes, virtual letterboxing can keep you entertained. Virtual letterboxes can be logged on some letterboxing websites but will not show in your PFX count.

Limited time Boxes

A letterbox that has only been planted for a short amount of time (Like a few days or a week, any time length the planter wants.). Seasonal clues like Christmas tree ornaments in front yards or holiday specific boxes may remain the same but will only return to their locations during the appropriate time of year. Others celebrate an event and will only remain in their locations until the event is complete.

Basic Letterboxing Equipment

Not only is letterboxing one of the least expensive hobbies to begin, you can get your supplies at any craft store in the country. There are no lessons to take or specialty items to buy. In fact, the list of essential letterboxing gear is quite short:

Signature Stamp

You can make your own rubber stamp or buy one from any craft store. As a beginner, you might opt for a store bought stamp so you can begin letterboxing right away. Your signature stamp should express who you are. Some carve their trail name and a symbol, others buy an oak leaf to indicate their passion for nature. Regardless of which type of stamp you choose, make sure you like your stamp. This is your sign and you will see it every time you stamp in to a letterbox.

Your local craft store might sell the rubber and carving tools for handcarving. You can also find kits online. Get creative. Almost any image can become a rubber stamp.


There are many types of inks available and even more color options. The three ink types most commonly used for letterboxing are alcohol, dye, and pigment. Pigment is the most popular ink as the colors are rich and the ink itself works well for stamping. Dye based inks dry a little more quickly and work well for stamping. Finally, alcohol based inks dry very quickly for speedy letterboxing. However, their stamping quality is poor in comparison to the quality of ink and pigment.

Small ink pads with raised pads work very well for letterboxing. These tiny ink pads are also easy to keep in a pocket. Larger pads tend to tear, shred, and get ink all over the place.


You can use any book with a hardcover. Books without lines will show off the stamps you collect. However, lined books will also work well. Look for thick pages that will not bleed through. Save a page or two at the beginning of your book to stamp your signature stamp and any other stamps you make. The rest of the book can be dedicated to the letterboxes you find.


Test your pen before you take it on the trail. Many logbooks will be damp when you find them. The wrong pen could tear the log book, bleed, or not write at all. Space pens are excellent for writing in all conditions. A ballpoint pen or a fine tipped permanent marker also work quite well.


You might also consider a shoulder bag or backpack to hold your letterboxing gear. Here are some ideas of other handy items to take along when letterboxing:

• Bug spray

• Sunscreen

• A hat

• Baby wipes (to remove ink)

• A small first aid kit

• Water and a snack

• A collapsible stool

Letter box nearby location

As you letterbox more, you will think of items that will make letterboxing more pleasurable for you. Add these items to your gear bag and share your ideas with other letterboxers.

How To Locate Clues

Before you head out to find your first letterbox, find a few clues. There are many places to find the clues you will use to locate letterboxes.


AtlasQuest offers the most comprehensive database of letterboxes and letterboxers in North America. You can perform location based searches to find clues to letterboxes in your area. You can also map and print clues directly on the site. The forums are an excellent resource for anyone starting a letterboxing hobby.

Letterboxing.org provides clues to many boxes. AtlasQuest links to some of these clues. Letterboxing.org has fewer clues and does not allow users to build profiles, track finds with efficiency, or interact with other letterboxers. They do provide a great source for clues.


You might receive a clue by word of mouth. You can also find clues in annual letterbox catalogs. However, in North America, these catalogs are few and far between. The online resources available are a more efficient way to find letterbox clues.

How To Find A Letterbox

Once you have your clues in hand and your bag is packed, you are officially ready to find your letterbox.

Getting There

Once you pick a clue to follow, you will need to figure out how to get to the starting point. You can do this using online mapping systems like Google Maps or Mapquest. Once you reach your destination, follow your clues with care.

Following Clues

Steps and paces will often confuse the letterboxer. In general, you can count the steps or paces with your normal stride. If the clue tells you to look for a specific tree, log, rock, or doorway in the next step, see if you can locate that item from your position. If not, either try again or reassess your clues.

Letterbox Hiding Places

Letterboxes are usually tucked away where they can`t be spotted by the casual passerby. Look for piles of leaves or neatly arrange sticks to find your letterbox. Some are located in the trunks of trees. Others are hidden underneath rocks or in holes. If you can`t see the letterbox right away, keep looking. A letterbox is not supposed to be easy to find.

Plant Your Own Letterbox

Planting your own letterbox can be a lot of fun. Follow these steps to make sure your letterbox will be a pleasure for other letterboxers to find.

1. Research your location. If another letterbox exists near the location you like, either ask the other letterbox`s owner for permission to plant a box nearby or pick another location.

2. Create your stamp. You can hand carve or buy your stamp. You will find great carving guides online if you choose to make your own.

3. Create your clue. Walk the path and work these steps into your clue. Your clue should reflect the theme. An explanation at the beginning followed by a simple clue detailing the steps will suffice. More complex clues that fit the steps into the story are enjoyable to write and more interesting for the letterboxer looking for your letterbox.

4. Make your letterbox. Buy a watertight box and label it inside and out with “This Is Not Trash, It Is A Letterbox” or something similar. You can reference AtlasQuest website in case someone wants more information. In this box you will place your stamp and a logbook. This might be a ring bound set of notecards or a handmade logbook. Seal everything in ziploc bags to protect the stamp and book from water.

5. Post Your Clues. Post your clue to the online clue databases and watch the finds come pouring in.

6. Reward First Finders. Include a stamped card or a trinket in the box for the first finder. This is their reward for getting to your box first.

7. Maintain Your Box. Check your box periodically to make sure the box is intact and the stamp and logbook are in good shape. Replace both as necessary.


Letterboxing Safety

Follow these safety guidelines to make your letterboxing experience the best it can be:

1. Never go alone. If you do go solo, provide someone with a list of the locations you are visiting. Check in with that person periodically. You never know who is lurking in the woods.

2. Wear appropriate clothes and footwear. Pay attention to the weather. Shorts and flip flops are generally a bad idea in the woods as you will eventually bleed for letterboxing. Keep warm and dry in rain and cool weather or keep cool in hot weather to prevent hypothermia and heat stroke.

3. Eat food and stay hydrated. Enough said.

4. If you plan to meet up with a stranger to letterbox, meet for the first time or two in a very public place. You are not obligated to spend time with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.

News from My Lad by James Campbell, 1858-1859 (Walker Art Gallery)

A letter is a written message conveyed from one person (or group of people) to another through a medium.[clarification needed][1] The term usually excludes written material intended to be read in its original form by large numbers of people, such as newspapers and placards; however even these may include material in the form of an 'open letter'. Letters can be formal or informal. Besides being a means of communication and a store of information, letter writing has played a role in the reproduction of writing as an art throughout history.[1] Letters have been sent since antiquity and are mentioned in the Iliad.[2] Historians Herodotus and Thucydides mention and use letters in their writings.[3]

History of letter writing[edit]

Letter of Darius the Great to Gadatas, circa 500 BC.
The famous Einstein letter from Edward Teller and Leó Szilárd to US President Franklin Roosevelt suggesting an atomic bomb project. Click here for page 2.
A thank-you letter from Katharine Hepburn to Alan Light thanking him for his condolences in regards of Cary Grant's death

Historically, letters have existed from, ancient India, ancient Egypt and Sumer, through Rome, Greece and China, up to the present day. During the 17th and 18th centuries, letters were used to self-educate.[clarification needed] The main purposes of letters were to send information, news and greetings. For some, letters were a way to practice critical reading, self-expressive writing, polemical writing and also exchange ideas with like-minded others. For some people, letters were seen as a written performance.[clarification needed] Letters make up several of the books of the Bible. Archives of correspondence, whether for personal, diplomatic, or business reasons, serve as primary sources for historians. At certain times, the writing of letters was thought to be an art form and a genre of literature, for instance in Byzantine epistolography.[4]

Letter Box Nearby

In the ancient world letters might be written on various different materials, including metal, lead, wax-coated wooden tablets, pottery fragments, animal skin, and papyrus. From Ovid, we learn that Acontius used an apple for his letter to Cydippe.[5] More recently, letters have mainly been written on paper: handwritten and more recently typed.

As communication technology has developed in recent history, posted letters on paper have become less important as a routine form of communication. For example, the development of the telegraph drastically shortened the time taken to send a communication, by sending it between distant points as an electrical signal. At the telegraph office closest to the destination, the signal was converted back into writing on paper and delivered to the recipient. The next step was the telex which avoided the need for local delivery. Then followed the fax (facsimile) machine: a letter could be transferred from the sender to the receiver through the telephone network as an image. These technologies did not displace physical letters as the primary route for communication; however today, the internet, by means of email, plays the main role in written communications, together with text messages; however, these email communications are not generally referred to as letters but rather as e-mail (or email) messages, messages or simply emails or e-mails, with the term 'letter' generally being reserved for communications on paper.

As literary historical source material[edit]

Due to the timelessness and universality of letter writing, there is a wealth of letters and instructional materials (for example, manuals, as in the medieval ars dictaminis) on letter writing throughout history. The study of letter writing usually involves both the study of rhetoric and grammar.[6]

Comparison with electronic mail[edit]

François Boucher – The Secret Message, 1767 (Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum)

Despite email, letters are still popular, particularly in business and for official communications. At the same time, many 'letters' are sent in electronic form. The following advantages of paper letters over e-mails and text messages are put forward:

  • No special device is needed to receive a letter, just a postal address, and the letter can be read immediately on receipt.
  • An e-mail may sit in a recipient's inbox for some time before being read, or may not be read at all; a paper letter is more likely to receive prompt attention once it arrives.
  • An advertising mailing can reach every address in a particular area.
  • A letter provides an immediate, and in principle permanent, physical record of communication, without the need for printing. Letters, especially those with a signature and/or on an organization's own notepaper, are more difficult to falsify than is an email, and thus provide much better evidence of the contents of the communication.
  • A letter in the sender's own handwriting is more personal than an e-mail and shows that the sender has taken trouble to write it.
  • If required, small physical objects can be enclosed in the envelope with the letter.
  • Letters are unable to transmit malware or other harmful files that can be transmitted by e-mail.
  • E-mails are insecure and may be intercepted en-route. For this reason, letters are often preferred for confidential correspondence.
  • Letter writing leads to the mastery of the technique of good writing.
  • Letter writing can provide an extension of the face-to-face therapeutic encounter.[clarification needed][7]

The following advantages are put forward for e-mails and text messages over traditional letters:

Letter Box Near Me

  • Potentially they can be transmitted instantly.
  • They can be sent to a number of recipients in one operation (this is also a disadvantage as it leads to needless time-consuming correspondence).
  • They do not require postage to be paid (although there is often a small fee for sending a text message).
  • They do not require materials such as paper and ink.
  • Often an e-mail would require a less formal style than a letter to the same recipient, and thus may take less time to write. It is also easier to make amendments to a draft than it is with a handwritten letter.
  • E-mails may be composed using spell checkers and other devices, and thus may conceal the ignorance (inability to spell or compose prose etc.) of the sender; this may be an advantage or a disadvantage.
  • During an epidemic, e-mails cannot transmit diseases.
  • They don't take up physical space and can't be damaged in a natural disaster.

Delivery process[edit]

Here is how a letter gets from the sender to the recipient:

  1. Sender composes and writes letter and may fold the letter so that it fits in an envelope. For bulk mailings, a folding machine may be employed.
  2. Sender places the letter in an envelope on which the recipient's address is written on the front of the envelope, or often is visible through a transparent window of the envelope. Sender ensures that the recipient's address includes the Zip or Postal Code (if applicable) and historically often included his/her return address on the envelope.
  3. For small volume private letters, the sender buys a postage stamp and attaches it to the top right corner on the front of the envelope. (For most commercial letters, postage stamps are not used: a franking machine or other methods are used to pay for postage.)
  4. Sender puts the letter in a postbox.
  5. The national postal service of the sender's country (e.g. Royal Mail, UK; USPS, United States; Australia Post in Australia; or Canada Post in Canada) empties the postbox and transports all the contents to the local sorting office.
  6. The sorting office then sorts each letter by address and postcode and sends the letters destined for a particular area to that area's local sorting office (sometimes called a delivery office). Letters addressed to a different region may go through more than one stage of transmission and sorting.
  7. The local delivery personnel collect the letters from the delivery office and deliver them to the proper addresses. In some areas, recipients may need to collect the letters from the local office.

This process, depending on how far the sender is from the recipient, can take anywhere from a day to 3–4 weeks. International mail is sent via trains and airplanes to other countries.

In 2008, Janet Barrett in the UK received an RSVP to a party invitation addressed to 'Percy Bateman', from 'Buffy', allegedly originally posted on 29 November 1919. It had taken 89 years to be delivered by the Royal Mail.[8] However, Royal Mail denied this, saying that it would be impossible for a letter to have remained in their system for so long, as checks are carried out regularly. Instead, the letter dated 1919 may have 'been a collector's item which was being sent in another envelope and somehow came free of the outer packaging'.[9]

Kinds of letters[edit]

There are a number of different types of letter:

  • Hybrid mail (semi-electronic delivery)
  • Recommendation letter and the closely related employment reference letter


  • By writing both across and down, the sender of a letter could save on postage.

  • A hand-written letter of Cesare Borgia.

  • A child's letter to Santa Claus.

  • A letter from Arthur Conan Doyle about The Hound of the Baskervilles.

  • An invitation letter to the ground-breaking of the Seattle Space Needle, 1961.

  • The resignation letter of Richard Nixon, 1974.

  • A letter sheet. Augusto Tominz [de] - The Letter, 1873

Means of transport[edit]


  1. ^ abBlake, Gary; Bly, Robert W. (1993). The Elements of Technical Writing. Macmillan Publishers. p. 125. ISBN0020130856.
  2. ^Homer, Iliad, 6. 167–70.
  3. ^Ebbeler, J. (2009). 'Tradition, Innovation, and Epistolary Mores'. In Rousseau, P. (ed.). A Companion to Late Antiquity. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 270. ISBN978-1-4051-1980-1.
  4. ^'Epistolography' in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, New York & Oxford, 1991, p. 718. ISBN0195046528
  5. ^Ovid, Her. 20
  6. ^Carol Poster and Linda C. Mitchell, eds., Letter-Writing Manuals and Instruction from Antiquity to the Present (Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina Press, 2007).
  7. ^[1]
  8. ^Glenday, Craig (2013). Guinness Book of World Records 2014. pp. 127. ISBN978-1-908843-15-9.
  9. ^'Royal Mail delivers letter 89 years late'. The Daily Telegraph. 8 December 2008. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Letters (written messages).
Wikisource has original text related to this article:

Letter Box Nearby Store

  • The dictionary definition of letter at Wiktionary
  • The First English Family Letters at History Today
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