On July 28 how about trying out our treasure hunt at the Farmer’s Market. We want to use this as an opportunity to introduce you to the fun hobby called Letterboxing. This activity developed out of something a man in England did. In 1854 James Perrot put his calling card in a bottle and then hid it. He invited people who found his bottle to do the same. People began leaving self-addressed post cards with their bottle and invited people to return the card so they would know when someone found their bottle. This is where the name Letterboxing came from since what we call a mailbox is called a Letterbox in England. Today there are thousands of letterboxes hidden in Dartmoor National Park in England. Gradually the hobby came to the US and some people say the first US letterbox was hidden in North Carolina sometime after an article appeared in the Smithsonian Magazine in 1998. Some say this first letterbox was hidden near Hot Springs, North Carolina in April 1998. No one knows for sure and there is an air of mystery around this hobby.
Letterboxing has evolved a good bit since the “message in a bottle” days. Now people use a small box that is well sealed and perhaps placed in a zip loc bag. Inside the box they place a log book, a rubber stamp and an ink pad. The box is hidden well and clues are devised to direct people to the box. Boxers, as those involved in the hobby are known, also have a log book and a stamp that they carry with them when they go hunting boxes. This stamp becomes their signature which is usually associated with their trail name. The internet has provided the ideal way to give clues and for boxers to report their finds. Some people enjoy the art of hiding the boxes and writing clues. Others enjoy the hunt. And, a third group enjoys creating the rubber stamps used to sign the logbooks. I imagine there are people who enjoy all parts of this unusual hobby.
There are a number of Letterboxes hidden in our area. If you want to know more and perhaps go searching you should check out these websites: www.letterboxing.org and www.atlasquest.com. You’ll find more information about how the hobby works and how to get clues to find the boxes.
The Letterboxing treasure hunt at the Farmer’s Market will be a simplified version of this activity designed for children and their parents. The goal will be to collect stamps from all the boxes hidden at the Market. We’ll give you the first clue at the WOW table and a sheet on which you can collect the stamps. Each box will have a rubber stamp and ink pad as well as the clue for finding the next box. We hope you will find this a fun way to explore the market.
Most of what I’ve written here came from an article by Amy Joyner that appeared in the Nov. 2008 issue of Our State Magazine.