Thursday, January 29, 2015

Letterboxing Starter Kit

Letterboxing, like any other game or sport, can be played at any level of intensity you choose. From the ho–hum occasional player to the full–out–full–time competitor, there is pleasure to be gained by playing this game. Whatever level you choose or evolve too, here is what you need to play.

1. USER NAME / HANDLE I consider these features important (you may not).
-- Descriptive of you.
-- Not too long, not too short.
-- Easy to remember by you and others. "Catchy" is good.
-- Consider the fact that you will be signing it and typing it many times.
-- If you engage in other games, e.g., Geocaching, Waymarking, Munzee, think about making your handle the same for all.

I chose the handle "flyfishercacher" to reflect my interest in flyfishing and geocaching. I use the same handle in all games; I created my avatar to illustrate this name, and I use it everywhere.
My Avatar is my signature stamp

2. ACCOUNT / MEMBERSHIP in Atlas Quest (AQ) and / or Letterboxing North America (LbNA) website. AQ is by far the better site but LbNA is enough of a presence that you should not ignore it. I have joined both and use the same handle on both.

Both of these websites involve the common membership game. A basic membership is free and gets you some features. A premium membership gets you all the features and costs some nominal amount of money. I suggest starting with the free basic then evolving as your interest dictates. As a minimum, start with a basic membership to Atlas Quest.

Atlas Quest (AQ)
Letterboxing North America (LbNA)

3. SIGNATURE STAMP This is the centerpiece of the Letterboxing game. Very serious players are into the art form of hand carving rubber stamps. Letterboxing provides a display forum for their art work and your searching will turn up some impressive stamps. Those of us who are less intense, can have a stamp made for a reasonable price by You provide the art work in the form of a picture (jpg, png, gif) and they will create a rubber stamp from your art work. I think it is a good idea to include your handle in the stamp.

I have included an inexpensive stamp in this kit just to get you started. If you develop any interest in this game, you will quickly want to move on to a better stamp.

4. STAMP PAD Letterboxes are supposed to contain a stamp and a logbook. Most do not contain a stamp pad. So to play the game you should bring along your own stamp pad. There is a cheap one in this kit. Like the stamp, you will want to move on to better ink and stamp pad. Buy from craft stores; not office supply stores.

5. LOGBOOK This is where my education has been long and expensive and may not be over yet. Soon after I started geocaching, I bought a cheap spiral pad to keep a brief record of my finds. Then I encountered a geocache with a stamp in it. Then I learned about letterboxing. Then I found a letterbox with a stamp too big for my little spiral pad. Then I realized that the ink was bleeding through the paper and obliterating the writing on the other side. Then I got smart(er).

The logbook should be a quality product worthy of containing and displaying a collection of stamp images and notes that may grow for many years. You will not be able to return and recapture these images sometime in the future. Your logbook should be something you are proud to show off.

So here is my advice:
-- Spiral binding so that the logbook can be laid open flat
-- Heavy weight acid free paper (90lb is good). Reduces possibility of bleed through and preserves stamp images just about forever.
-- Large enough to hold bigger stamps. Small enough to carry around. I don't have a magic answer here but a small notepad sure isn't it.

This kit contains a quality logbook. I did not go cheap here. The pages are 5.5" by 8.5" and are 98lb paper.

Hopefully these notes and this kit will give your letterboxing adventure a starting boost.
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