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The Historical Exhibit of Letterboxing Patches

Websites and Online Groups:

Since America's introduction to letterboxing, the hobby has been inextricably linked to the Intranet. The World Wide Web provided an ideal method for distributing clues and information across distances, and enabled the once-obscure hobby to grow into a international movement. Several websites have played a role in the history of the hobby; some of them have come and gone, while others endured the test of time. The common goal of each of these sites has been to bring people together for the purpose of letterboxing, or at least some aspect of the hobby. The patches that appear on this page (and the following Regional page) reflect our hobby's history of organization through websites, blogs and discussion groups.
Letterboxing North America (LbNA)

Several weeks after Smithsonian magazine published an article on letterboxing in its April 1998 issue, Daniel "Elf" Servatius, Erik "Vermont Viking" Davis, and Mitch "Der Mad Stamper" Klink began development of the first American letterboxing website. In October 1999, with additional assistance from Randy "Mapsurfer" Hall and a host of other volunteers, the Letterboxing.org domain was officially introduced under the name "Letterboxing North America." In addition to maps and clues, it included tips for getting started, a link to a dedicated discussion forum and a special section for kids. The LbNA patches were commissioned by Mohmers and first produced in December 2000, with a design that had been developed online by concensus of the website's participants. It is interesting to note that the now-famous orange background was a mistake. Early proofs showed orange, but Mohmers had been told that they would actually be tan. But when they finally arrived, sure enough, they were orange. This mistake has since been intentionally copied by many other letterboxing patch designers in an attempt to mimic the original color scheme.

Patch donated by: Der Mad Stamper
 
Geocaching.com
No, this isn't a misprint. And, yes, we are aware that geocaching is not the same as letterboxing. However, since its introduction in October 2000, there have been letterbox clues on the Geocaching.com website. Known as "hybrid" boxes, they can include a rubber stamp and logbook for letterboxers, as well as a cache of trinkets for geocachers. With GPS coordinates for "clues," these hybrids do, technically, qualify this as a letterboxing-related website. It might be interesting to note that when founder, Jeremy Irish, first created the Geocaching.com website, he contacted the LbNA web team about the possibility of consolidating both hobbies into a single website. The answer he received was a resounding "NO!"
Patches donated by: Der Mad Stamper
 
Letterboxing Central
The Letterboxing Central website (see archive) at letterboxingcentral.com was created in August 2001 by Bill and Val Cox. It featured links to online information and various outfitters, plus a limited selection of letterboxing clues, a message board, and some tips for letterboxing with your dog. In December 2005, due to health issues which limited Bill's hiking abilities, Bill and Val eventually (and regretfully) dropped out of letterboxing and abandoned the Letterboxing Central website. They provided us with this specimen from their online catalog of letterboxing merchandise, which is one of the last few remaining patches from those early days. UPDATE: This patch is now available in very limited quantities from this site, with all proceeds going toward the support of this Exhibit.
Patch donated by: Bill and Val
 
"LB" oval
The Letterboxing.info website was created by Silent Doug in September 2002. It contains a wealth of information related to the hobby, including tutorials, links, and a limited selection of letterboxing clues. Silent Doug adopted the LB oval design (cleverly reminiscent of the familiar European country-of-origin stickers often seen on automobiles) as both a symbol for his website and as a covert sign of recognition between fellow 'boxers. The design has since been copied elsewhere, but this is where it started! These patches are produced by Cafe Press and are sold on the letterboxing.info website along with other merchandise. They are currently only available on baseball caps. The design is printed onto a cloth patch with an embroidered edging.
Patch donated by: Der Mad Stamper
 
 
World of Letterboxing (WOL)
The sometimes controversial WOL site (see archive) at www.lbworld.org was created by Ravynhaus in May, 2004, as an alternative to LbNA. To our knowledge, it was the first letterboxing site to feature message boards, an events calendar and a picture gallery, in addition to a clues database. The site had a loyal following, but was plagued by technical difficulties and alleged hacker attacks. By 2005, WOL had gone AWOL. This patch was produced as a prototype and is believed to be the only one in existence. The design is printed onto a cloth patch with an embroidered edging.
Patch donated by: Ravynhaus
 
  
NEWBOXERS

When Mark Pepe established a Yahoo discussion group in May, 2004, called the New Letterboxers Group, he provided an important service to the letterboxing community. Often, letterboxing "newbies" would post basic questions on the established message boards, only to be flamed by letterboxing veterans who were tired of dealing with such issues. The Newboxers group became a safe haven for inexperienced letterboxers who needed help getting started in the hobby. A design contest was held to create a patch, and this design by the Crayola Posse was announced as the winner on December 17, 2006. In February of 2009, Mark reordered an "upgraded" patch that was 100% embroidered and truer to Crayola Posse's original design.

Patches donated by: Mark and Sue Pepe
 
 
Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (www.LNT.org) is not specifically a letterboxing organization; however, its principles are reflected in the letterboxing codes of conduct. LNT is an educational, nonprofit organization dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. LNT has also been instrumental in establishing the PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids) program, which has resulted in at least one letterboxing patch program through the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Council. If you're a letterboxer, and you're not familiar with this organization and its mission, you probably should be.
Patch donated by: Der Mad Stamper
 
     
Atlas Quest (AQ)
In July, 2004, Ryan "Green Tortuga" Carpenter launched Atlas Quest, featuring "city search" capabilities. He eventually added message boards, a picture gallery, events calendar, online logbooks, PLB tracking and a premium member subscription service. On a whim, Ryan's girlfriend, Amanda, took some photos of a toy chick in various letterboxing poses, and Ryan decided to use them in an online tuturial. Soon, one of Amanda's photos of the chick (nicknamed Marjorie) posing as Atlas with the world on its shoulders became the AQ mascot. Ryan eventually asked Red (of Red's Bunch) to create a cartoon version of the chick as an official logo. Ryan says the patch only came about because he was pestered into it. "Everyone wanted a patch, so I finally broke down and had one made." The purple oval was Ryan's contribution to the design. It went on sale June 23, 2007. When the supply ran out in April, 2009, Ryan "tweaked the design a bit" and re-ordered the patch in a rectangular shape.
Patches donated by: Green Tortuga
 
          
Letterpod (LPod)
The Letterpod (short for "letterboxing podcast") is an online broadcast dedicated to letterboxing. It can be accessed with a computer or a portable digital media player such as the Apple iPod®. Typically, the letterpod episodes are strictly audio, but they can sometimes also include video. They were originated by Choi in 2006, and then, Jackbear assumed control of the project in June, 2007. On October 22, 2007, the first series of patches became available, with all proceeds going to help maintain the project. From the beginning, Jackbear stated that they would not be reordered, so when the stock was nearly depleted in May, 2009, he announced a design competition for a new patch. The winning design, which resembled an iPod® device and featured a logo that looked the same upside-down, was submitted by David of Team New Hampshire. The new patch made its debut in July at LB CON 2009. You can listen to the Letterpod programs by visiting: http://letterpod.podbean.com

Patch donated by: Jackbear

 
Boxers 'n' Briefs
In October, 2006, a questionably sane and unquestionably hilarious letterboxer known as wassamatta_u (a name which also happens to be the alma mater of cartoon character Bullwinkle J. Moose) began "Scooping the Letterbox" with his Boxers 'n' Briefs blog. Aside from a few special commentaries, wassa's blog has lived up to his promise of being a reliable "summary of all the important / interesting / amusing things going on at Atlas Quest, most notably in the Atlas Quest Message Boards." Wassa says that anyone is officially eligible for a free Boxers 'n' Briefs Patch, while they last, if they have ever been mentioned in any of his blog entries.

Patch donated by: wassamatta_u

 

 
The Grateful Letterboxers
This online letterboxing group was established by the Merry Pranksters and Zess the treehuggers. They started the group when they discovered several other letterboxers who shared their musical interests. However, they insist this is NOT a prerequisite to join in the fun! Merry Prankster Pete says, "although music is one source of our enjoyment, letterboxing and socializing with friends is the main focus of our group." The patch design is a fusion of the classic LbNA logo and the Grateful Dead's famous "Steal Your Face" image. It was originally drawn up and carved as a Traveling Event stamp in February of 2007, and became available as a patch on May 31 of that year. A week later, on June 7, a Yahoo discussion group was established and this patch (designed and distributed by the Merry Pranksters) became their symbol. In January, 2009, the Grateful Letterboxers moved their discussions to AtlasQuest.
Patch donated by: The Merry Pranksters
 
Letterboxing Patches

It's official! Letterboxing patch madness has finally gone full circle! Oh well, it was probably bound to happen sooner or later. Now there's a letterboxing patch that commemmorates a website that's all about letterboxing patches... how meta is that? Yes, we're talking about the very website you're visiting right now—LetterboxingPatches.com! All proceeds from the sale of these patches help in our effort to preserve and share the history of letterboxing patches—by maintaining this online exhibit, and also by taking the real-life traveling version of the exhibit to events around the country. Show your support by wearing this patch to your next letterboxing meet. When people ask about it, tell them how much you care about preserving and honoring the history of letterboxing. This patch was designed by Der Mad Stamper and made its official debut at the second annual "June in Central Oregon" event on June 11, 2011.

Patch donated by: www.letterboxingpatches.com
 

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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