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Atlas Quest

Help: Glossary Definitions

  1. What are virtuals?
  2. What is a homage stamp?
  3. What is a Boxing Buddy?
  4. What is a flea?
  5. What is a BIA?
  6. What is an ecoscavenger?
  7. What is cacheboxing?
  8. What is a SPOR?
  9. What is a whitelist?
  10. What is the criteria for a "tourist" letterbox?
  11. What is a Series?
  12. What do you call a hitchhiker that is waaaaay too large to ever fit in any letterboxes you're likely to find?
  13. What is the difference between a "Planter" and an "Owner"?
  14. What does status retired mean?

What are virtuals?

Virtuals started as a way to search for letterboxes online. It would pose a question, series of questions, problem, or many other types of conundrum for you to solve. By solving the virtual's clues, you create a password or passkey that is then used to 'unlock' your reward—a virtual image (sometimes a scanned hand-carved stamp, sometimes a hand-drawn image, and sometimes a digital image), which you can then save as your record of finding the virtual.

The earliest known virtual as the online version of the Kimball Library Letterbook, created by The Orient Express in 1998. Not only is this the earliest known virtual, but also the original letterbook (creating a letterbox using an old book as the container). The Kimball Library Letterbook was a physical letterbox planted in a library in Randolph, Vermont, that also had a virtual quest version for those who were not able to get to Vermont to find the actual letterbook.

Virtuals have been discontinued on Atlas Quest, but you'll still find some on personal websites that are out there (example: Lone R's Virtual Letterboxes). See also, virtual letterbox sources listed under Miscellaneous in the Atlas Quest Link Directory. In addition, there's a Virtuals Group where you can discuss them and learn how to create your own.

What is a homage stamp?

Homage stamps are created to pay respect to another letterboxer. They usually look like the letterboxer's personal stamp, but with a slight change in the stamp's image and name. They may also take a cue from the signature stamp, something that identifies who it is about. A few look completely different then the signature stamp, but are a wordplay on the letterboxer's trail name.

What is a Boxing Buddy?

A Boxing Buddy is a small mascot, complete with its own signature stamp and logbook, sent to travel with you and share in your letterboxing adventures. You can host a Boxing Buddy or own a Boxing Buddy.

What is a flea?

A flea is a hybrid combination of a cootie and a hitchhiker. It may be passed from person to person like a cootie, or left in a letterbox like a hitchhiker.
They are listed on AQ under the box type "cootie".

A sample explanation that can be written in its logbook to describe it is:

"This is a flea.
It may be passed from person to person like a cootie,
or left in a letterbox like a hitchhiker.
Please log your find on"

What is a BIA?

BIA's refer to Zutter Bind-It-All machined logbooks.

What is an ecoscavenger?

Ecoscavengers provide a way to "hide" letterboxes where letterboxes are not allowed or are not a good idea. It's a combination of traditional and virtual letterboxes. There's no physical box found at the end but there is an electronic (virtual) stamp image reward.

You wouldn't/shouldn't hide a letterbox at a monument or in a national park. However, because there's nothing to hide, you can lead people to a special spot in a national park or an urban monument (or someplace that doesn't accommodate a physical box), and then reward their find with a virtual stamp image. These boxes are sometimes called 'webboxes'. To find them on LBNA, do a letterbox search for 'Word/phrase in box name': webbox. To find them on AQ do a 'basic search' for: ecoscavenger. You can also find these boxes on

  • clues are deciphered by visiting a specific location
  • once the clues are solved you will have a passkey
  • visit a specific website (noted in the clues) and get your reward by using the passkey
  • the reward is usually an electronic Letterbox Trading Card. It can be printed and stored in a logbook.

What is cacheboxing?

Cacheboxing was invented by Der Mad Stamper and simply entails essentially treating the geocache as a letterbox whenever you stumble upon a geocache while letterboxing. That is, you stamp into the log and you pick the most stampable object in the geocache and use it to stamp into your logbook. Often there is something that works pretty well for a stamp. Using funny foam behind your page will enhance the stamping experience. Ensure you clean the object before returning it to the geocache. Cacheboxes finds should not be considered as a letterbox find. Some people choose to add their cachebox finds on AQ as an unlisted find. If you choose to do so, it would be best to list it as an "other" box type.

What is a SPOR?

It's a suspicious pile of rocks.

What is a whitelist?

A whitelist is a list of everyone you allow to see your letterbox. A whitelist is a good way to limit your boxes to close friends or family.

Whitelists are linked to mailing lists. The primary purpose of mailing lists is to contact groups of people you know, but they also do double duty as whitelists and exceptions if you choose to use them in that manner. A letterbox with a whitelist restriction will require members to be logged in in order to see them since Atlas Quest needs to check if they are on the whitelist.

To apply a whitelist to your boxes, you must be the owner of the letterbox, then follow these steps:

  1. Create a mailing list if you don't have one already. You'll probably want to give it a name such as "My whitelist" or "My friends," then add everyone who should be a part of that group.
  2. While listing a letterbox, change to the Restrictions page. If you have any mailing lists (which you should now, if you did step #1), they'll all be listed as options for whitelists. Select the appropriate whitelist for your restrictions.
  3. Save the box. You're done!

To add or remove someone from a whitelist, edit the mailing list that is being used for that purpose. You do not have to edit or change the box listing in any way to apply such changes.

What is the criteria for a "tourist" letterbox?

In our recent month-long road trip around the country, I was excited to find letterboxes in a good many of the places we were planning on stopping. As we progressed through our trip, I started wishing for more 'tourist boxes'. I have long enjoyed boxes geared just for tourists, people passing through that have zero knowledge of the area and want a reminder of their visit. I was longing for more of these boxes, even just one in the places we stopped, but there just seems a lack of these types of boxes.

As I wished further, I wished for box planters to note in the clues that it was a great box for tourists. The boxes would fit the following guidelines:

Criteria for a TOURIST BOX:

- A drive-by up to a half a mile easy hike (kid friendly)
- LB located in a great tourist location and not far from major highways/interstates
- Easy to locate starting point with simple directions or a GPS
- Stamp image is related to the attraction and/or history of the area
- A rather easy 'get' time should take no more than 1/2 hour
- Clue includes information about the area/attraction
- Box clues should mention that it is great for tourists or those from out of the area

Example of a great tourist box:

What is a Series?

A series, as listed on Atlas Quest, is a group of letterboxes that you expect someone to find in a single outing. It is not a group of boxes related only by theme. It is not a list of every stamp within one box. The term is often used in other contexts in discussions on the message boards and can refer to any arbitrary grouping of letterboxes, but when it comes to listing boxes on Atlas Quest, it has a very narrow, precise definition defined as a group of boxes you'd expect someone to get in a specific order in a single outing.

A series takes a finder to one location such as the parking area. The series clue is where people walk to from the parking location (or starting point).

If you require someone to actually get back in the car to drive to a different trailhead for the next box in the series, it shouldn't be listed as a series--that would essentially count as two outings and should be listed as such.

If the boxes are in different locations they should be listed separately. You can tie them together by giving them a series title. For example:
  • Lighthouses of Maine: Grindle Point
  • Lighthouses of Maine: Curtis Island
  • Lighthouses of Maine: Indian Island
Additionally, you can create a themed series traditional tracker that contains each of the box listings, and then link to the tracker in your clues.

What do you call a hitchhiker that is waaaaay too large to ever fit in any letterboxes you're likely to find?


It may be too large because of the size of the stamp or because of the logbook.

What is the difference between a "Planter" and an "Owner"?

The planter is someone who participated in actually planting a letterbox while the owner is the person responsible for maintaining the letterbox. The planter is usually the owner, but if someone else adopts a box, the owner may be different.

On Atlas Quest, a box can have any number of planters, but all boxes have exactly one and only one owner. In the unusual case that a box has no owner (the person requested that their account be deleted, for instance, so the owner really has no account on AQ), it'll be assigned to the System account, a generic account that nobody monitors.

Planters cannot record a find on their boxes, but the owner can do so if they are not also a planter.

What does status retired mean?

There is a very helpful glossary under the Home category on the Atlasquest toolbar. Here is what it says:

A retired letterbox is one that is no longer available and will not be replaced—at least not for the foreseeable future. Any letterbox listed as unavailable will automatically be changed to retired if it hasn't been replaced within one year.