From the day in 1854 when James Perrott placed a bottle for visitors' cards on a moor in Dartmoor, England, to the feature article in a 1998 issue of Smithsonian introducing the sport to a U.S. audience, to the thousands of letterboxes today scattered throughout North America, the quaint Old World pastime of letterboxing has come a long way. And it's not surprising. This fascinating, family-friendly sport—an intriguing mix of hiking, puzzle solving, treasure hunting, and rubber stamp artistry, topped off with the thrill of discovery—offers something for everyone.
The basic idea is simple enough: Clues, usually posted on a website, lead to the secret location of a “letterbox.” And yet there is much more to know. The Letterboxer's Companion is a complete introduction that covers everything from a history of letterboxing to tips on writing and following clues, from instruction in carving personal stamps to letterboxing etiquette—in short, everything an aspiring letterboxer needs to get started.
Randy Hall is a cofounder of the Letterboxing North America website, letterboxing.org, and is a nationally ranked orienteer.