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The Historical Exhibit of Letterboxing Patches

Awards and Accomplishments:

One of the most obvious functions of letterboxing patches is to commemorate a significant achievement. Such traditions can be traced back to Dartmoor, or even further back to scouting and military organizations. This page shows some of the special awards that have been made available through the hobby of letterboxing.
Merit Badges (Original LbNA Design)
The original letterboxing merit badges first became available in 2001. They were reportedly available for Finds, Plants, eXchanges and Events, although no Event badges are currenly represented in this collection. They were made by the same shop that Mohmers had contracted to produce the original LbNA logo patches. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make them more affordable, these badges wound up suffering from a lack of quality. The pricing structure encouraged multiple purchases, yet they were made by embroidering them all onto a single sheet of fabric with a double layer of interfacing behind it. The badges were then sent out to buyers, still attached to one another on that matrix, so that customers had to cut them out into round shapes with scissors, producing an unfinished (and unpopular) look. The photograph above shows some of the badges after being trimmed, and others still attached to the original fabric.
 Patches donated by: Der Mad Stamper
Valley Quest
It would be hard to deny that the first American letterboxes were actually part of the Vital Communities Valley Quest program in the Upper Valley Region of Vermont and New Hampshire, even though the program's literature does not specifically mention the word "letterboxing". Founded in 1996, the program was based on the Dartmoor model, with three local adaptions: 1) quests are created by groups, rather than indivuals, 2) quests are intended to educate participants about community assets, and 3) quests culminate in the development of a regional, sense-of-place education program, usually in book format. This patch can be earned by completing 20 quests, and an embroidered hat is available for completing 50 of them.
Patch donated by: Vital Communities
Letterboxing Central: Witches Hollow
Witches Hollow is a series of letterboxes planted at Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, Connecticut. They were originally planted in August 2001 by Bill Cox, the creator of the Letterboxing Central website, and have since been adopted for safekeeping by Fish-or-Man. As an added feature, the first five boxes contained partial clues to the Witches Hollow Treasure, the sixth and final box in the series. Only by finding and combining them all, could you hope to figure out the path to the treasure. These patches were the "booty" in the treasure box, while they lasted.
Patch donated by: Hez
Connecticut's Forest Centennial
On January 23, 1903, Connecticut purchased the first tract of land of what was to become Connecticut’s State Forest System. In 2003, in honor of the Centennial of the State Forest System, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Forestry invited the public to visit these State Forests, by placing official letterboxes in all 30 of them. In 2005, due to strong public support for this first set of letterboxes (the "Centennial Series"), DEP Forestry replaced the original 30 boxes with a new series (the "Seedling Series"). Once you have visited at least five of these letterboxes (from either series) you can earn this custom designed Connecticut State Forests Centennial Patch.
Patch donated by: The Connecticut Division of Forestry
Cherokee Rose's Handmade First Finder Prizes

In the summer of 2004, Cherokee Rose was considering ideas for First Finder prizes to put in her letterboxes. "Creativity is a part of who I am," she says. "I wanted something different and personal." She is an avid quilter, but says it was actually Mighty Mouse's idea for her to embroider patches for her FF prizes. "For our 20th wedding anniversary, he bought me a new sewing machine that also embroiders. I got so hooked on the embroidery part that it took my quilting to a much higher level." When she started sewing patches (see also: Regional Patches), she knew she had found something unique that would be representative of herself and her love of sewing and quilting. "But be mindful," she pleads with sincere modesty, "I am but a humble sewer and they are not professional quality."

Over the next few years, Cherokee Rose left patches as FF prizes in most of the boxes she planted. Naturally, since each is a coveted one-of-a-kind original, it's been difficult to find examples for inclusion in this exhibit. After rummaging through her sewing room, she found the one on the left and donated it as a representation of her work. With her typical unassuming charm, she admits, "I did have a special box in mind for it, but I didn't make it. I got a little shy about putting it out there as a prize. Interestingly, though, the rose in the center looks a lot like one of my original signature stamps."

The second patch shown was contributed by the MookyDipper duo, who won it by being First Finders of a Cherokee Rose box called "Rock On!" Says Mooky, "It was, at the time, Alabama's only mystery box. We found it on July 16, 2005. To find the box, you needed to start in the home town of Bo Bice, who was an 'American Idol' contestant that year. The reason we were in the area is because we were, earlier that day, planting Alabama's second mystery box, 'State Highpoint Series: Alabama.'"

The other two patches were generously donated by Mike (Red) and Carol (Silly Ol' Bear) of Red's Bunch. Carol writes, "I didn't realize how difficult it would be to part with them, but we are happy to share for such a worthy cause." They found "Go Team" on September 11, 2004, in the Atlanta area. "Moonlit Dreams" was found sometime in 2005 at Paris Mountain State Park, near Greenville, SC.

See also: Handmade First Finder Patches by Cherokee Rose


Handmade Merit Badges

These badges were also created by Cherokee Rose after an online conversation in which Amyrica expressed her disappointment with the original LbNA merit badges (above) which were sewn onto a single sheet and delivered uncut and unfinished. Cherokee Rose volunteered to sew a finished border onto Amyrica's badges for free and suggested that she would also like to try making her own version of them. Her badges made an official debut at the second annual LbSe Gathering at Stone Mountain, Georgia, on July 9, 2005, where several were given away as raffle prizes. Cherokee Rose recalls, "I experimented with using either all thread inside (as in the F200 example above) or a fabric inside sewn to the borders (as in the F100 example at the top). Ultimately I went with the all thread ones and made about three dozen giving them away at the gathering as well and to friends. I only made them up to the FP250 mark." The orange cloth and green thread used for these badges are bright, neon, day-glow colors.

Patches donated by: Cherokee Rose
Comb City Quest

The Comb City Quest took place in Leominster, Massachusetts, and was a combined effort of the Leominster Land Trust, Leominster Recreation Department, Leominster Historical Society and local letterboxers (Lazy Letterboxer and GingerBlue). Thirteen letterboxes were hidden along the Monoosnoc Ridge Trail. From October 1, 2006 through July 1, 2007, this patch was awarded to participants who stamped into all thirteen boxes.

Patch donated by: The Leominster Recreation Department
SVT Letterboxing Challenge

Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) is a regional land trust founded in 1953 to conserve land and protect wildlife habitat in the Concord, Assabet and Sudbury river basin of Massachusetts. SVT embraced letterboxing in 2001 by planting a box at the Gray Reservation in Sudbury. There are now several letterboxes on SVT land and in June, 2007, the SVT Letterboxing Challenge was announced. This quest was put together by Dale End Farm, Zess the Treehuggers and Mim, with support from Dan Stimson of SVT. For a limited time, those who completed the 15-box challenge were awarded this patch, a bonus stamp, and a complimentary six-month SVT membership. The patch was designed (using SVT's marsh wren logo) by Louise of Dale End Farm, whose family had donated land to the Trust many years earlier.

Patch donated by: Dale End Farm
Merit Badges ("New and Improved" Design)
Disgruntled by the cheap quality, high price and slow delivery time of the original LbNA merit badges, Lock Wench asked the company that had made her Blue Diamond patches to also produce a series of letterboxing merit badges for her. The resulting badges hit the market in July 2007 and have been a great success among those who keep track of such things. Blue badges with silver stars for Finds are available at 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000, with a gold star available at 2500. Green badges are for Plants, with silver stars at 25, 50 and 100. A gold star is available at 250 Plants. In October 2008, Lock Wench announced that she was having a small run of F-5000 merit badges made. They are black and white with red text and a black and silver star. NOTE: All of these badges are now only available from this site, with all proceeds going toward the support of this Exhibit.
 Patches donated by: Lock Wench
First Finder Prize (Series One)
First Finder prizes are a long-standing tradition in letterboxing. In 1984, Anne Swinscow described several such rewards in her book, Dartmoor Leterboxes. These include such goodies as a £5 note, a miniature bottle of whiskey, a pot of honey, and a beautifully made copper cross. In November 2007, Amber of the Gillespie Tribe started a thread on Atlas Quest to entertain the idea of producing a special First Finder patch. By Christmas time, she had managed to have these cute little (1" diameter) patches made and was selling them for 50 cents each. For the record, that's someone holding a letterbox, not the pizza delivery dude!
Patch donated by: The Gillespie Tribe
First Finder Prize (Series Two)

The original First Finder patch became a popular collectible and sold out rather quickly. On February 6, 2010, "Paper Trail" posted an AQ message stating that since the first series was "out of print," she was thinking of coming up with a new design and having it made. The response was positive, so she moved ahead with her plan and began selling them on February 19. The new patch is slightly larger, with a diameter of 1.5", and features a treasure map design.

Patch donated by: Paper Trail
MrOspital's Letterbox First Finders
The First Finder prize fun continues! For the record, we're starting to like the direction this trend is taking. This patch showed up in our mailbox with this note: "My name is Jeff Ospital and I go by the trail name MrOspital. I have been boxing since October of 2007. The included patch is one I had made with my signature stamp on it. The patch was first hidden in the bonus boxes for my Tribal Animals series launched on March 19, 2010, for the Hiking Chino Hills event here in California. It has since been hid in boxes that I have planted in Alaska and Hawaii. I can't for the life of me remember the company I went through, but I did order 100 patches, so I should have plenty for years to come." Keep up the good work, Jeff!
Patch donated by: MrOspital

Treasure Hikers: On March 2, 2009, Mama Fox of the Little Foxes announced the North Carolina Treasure Hikers challenge as a fun twist to the hobby of letterboxing. At the same time, she also announced that dtandfamily and friends were sponsoring a similar South Carolina Treasure Hikers challenge. The idea was that that you could earn points by letterboxing, based on the number of miles hiked and boxes planted. As a prize for accumulating 25 points, you could receive custom designed "pathtags"—little metal medallions that have become popular among geocachers. Since then, similar challenges have been created in other states. Many of them also offer pathtags as prizes, but some have elected to award patches, instead.

New York Letterbox Hiker Challenge
The NY Letterbox 25 Mile Hiker Challenge was announced in April, 2009. It offered an embroidered patch as an incentive for keeping track and logging 25 miles hiked while finding, planting, and maintaining letterboxes. The original creators of this challenge (Scout, Jackbear, and Sahalie) openly acknowledge that they were inspired by the Treasure Hiker challenges in other states, but say they decided to go with a patch for New York after a poll indicated that 3 out of 5 letterboxers preferred to earn a patch over a pathtag. In March, 2011, the Challenge was expanded when Jackbear and Sahalie (in partnership with this site as part of our Cooperative Patch Production Program) released additional patches for reaching goals of 50, 75 and 100 miles All four designs are now available from Jackbear or Sahalie at local gatherings, or can be purchased online here at LetterboxingPatches.com, with all proceeds going toward the support of this Exhibit.
Patches donated by: Jackbear
WALB Treasure Hiker

Camp Fire Lady started a Washington Treasure Hikers challenge on March 20, 2009, offering a customary metal pathtag as a reward. On April 7, she announced that she also planned to make an embroidered Treasure Hiker patch available for people who want to show that they are participating in the pathtag program. The patch became available at the 2009 Spring Flinger Event on May 3rd, and is designed with a hole in it so you can use it to frame your pathtag once you've earned it.

Patch donated by: RaqsEnigma and Der Mad Stamper



Ohio Treasure Hikers
On April 20, 2009, Trailtracker started a poll for the state of Ohio to see if folks there would prefer to have patches rather than pathtags. The result was affirmative, and a decision was made to produce a round patch with semi-circular rocker shaped patches surrounding it to indicate the number of miles hiked. To date, no actual patch has been produced.
California Treasure Hikers
On August 26, 2010, California became the second state to offer patches as rewards for its Treasure Hiker Challenge, rather than metal pathtags. Designed by Turtlegirl 19, they come in four colors: blue (for 25 miles of letterbox hiking), green (50 miles), pink (75 miles) and tan (100 miles).
Patches donated by: Turtlegirl 19


NOTE: All patches are represented at the same scale for comparison purposes. However, images
have been reduced in size to help discourage the creation of counterfeit reproductions.

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