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Atlas Quest

Help: Letterboxes

Sub-Categories: Event Stamps · Hitchhikers/Cooties/Fleas · LTC · Others · Personal Travelers · Postals · Searching · Traditionals
  1. What is a letterbox's status?
  2. What do the icons for stamp types represent?
  3. How can I be alerted when a new box is planted in my area?
  4. How do I list a letterbox?
  5. Non-English speaking people may find my letterbox. How do I communicate?
  6. What are the different types of letterboxes?
  7. What should I do if someone plants a letterbox on my private property?
  8. I picked up a "traveler" from a traditional letterbox, but the definition of personal traveler doesn't match. What did I find?
  9. How did the '100 Ways for Barbie to Die' series in Illinois come about?
  10. Who are the 'participants'?
  11. How do I obtain the clues to a WOM letterbox?
  12. How do I remove all tags of a certain color from all of my boxes?
  13. How do I tag and untag letterboxes?
  14. What is an "Add-on Box"?
  15. Why was I not notified when a new letterbox was planted in my area?
  16. What is an Eevil Letterbox?
  17. What is a substitution code?
  18. What do all the options for printing multiple clues mean?
  19. What happened to virtual boxes?
  20. Where is the "Search for my letterboxes" function?
  21. What is good to use for a mailbox?
  22. How do I post my own letterbox online?

What is a letterbox's status?

Letterboxes often go missing, are retired, and otherwise inaccessible. We do not delete such boxes from Atlas Quest since they can still show up in online logbooks here or perhaps the box is expected to be replaced. In any case, keeping the status up to date allows the owner to indicate the current accessibility of the letterbox.
Status What it means
active An active box means that, as far as the owner of the letterbox knows, the box is alive and well ready for visitors
unavailable A box marked as unavailable means the owner of the letterbox knows the box is gone-regardless of the reason (maintenance, floods, seasonal, etc.)--but is expected to be replaced within one year.
retired A retired box not only is no longer there, but the owner of the box never intends to replace it (or doesn't intend to replace it for over a year).
unknown An unknown status means just that-the owner of the letterbox has been unable to confirm the status of the box. It's probably been reported missing by someone, but nobody has been able to confirm if the box truly is missing or if the letterboxer just missed the box.

Some people ask if they can be more specific about why a letterbox is missing. Is it gone temporarily due to maintenance? Was it confiscated by the authorities? This desire is understandable, but to the person who wants to find your letterbox, it's irrelevant. They need to know if the box is still there or not. From a finder's point of view, that is all they need to know.

If you wish to include additional information about why a letterbox is missing or when you intend to replace it, include such information in the clues for the box.

What do the icons for stamp types represent?

The creator promises you’ll find a genuine, 100% hand-carved stamp in the letterbox and not a store-bought or custom-made stamp.
The letterbox contains a unique, custom-made stamp.
The letterbox contains a store-bought stamp rather than a hand-carved or custom-made stamp.

How can I be alerted when a new box is planted in my area?

Run a search like you normally would to see a list of all letterboxes in your area that are of interest to you. Typically, this will include boxes that you have not planted or found already, and those that have a status of active or unknown (and probably not have a status of unavailable or retired), but the precise search you're interested in is up to you.

Once you're looking at the search results, you'll notice a link in the upper right corner of the page to "Save Search." When you click on that link, you'll be able to name your search and specify if you would prefer notifications of new boxes that match your search be sent to you as AQ mail. These alerts will be sent once each night, usually between 12:00am and 1:00am Pacific time.

How do I list a letterbox?

  1. Click the Add Letterbox link from under the Letterboxes menubar option.
  2. Type in a name and select the type of the letterbox, then click the Continue button.

At this point, you reach the main editing page. It shows all available settings currently available for the box along with links to edit the settings. The available settings will change depending on the type of box you are editing, whether it is a reserved box (or not), if you are the owner of the box, and so forth.

To edit a setting, use the pencil icon next to the setting you wish to change ().

Most settings you will likely leave in their default states, but a few of the settings you will probably update include:

  • Location (only applicable for traditional boxes)
  • Attributes (which vary depending on what type of box you are listing)
  • Clue details

When you are done, click Save. Or, if you made a mistake and do not want to save, click Cancel.

If you are editing a setting that you want to save but wish continue to edit the listing, click the Change button. But remember, those changes will not be permanent until you click a Save button!

Non-English speaking people may find my letterbox. How do I communicate?

Here is a generic Spanish translation you might want to include:

¿Qué es Letterboxing?

Letterboxing es un pasatiempo intrigante que combina la expresión artística con cazas del tesoro en lugares escénicos. Los participantes buscan los letterboxes ocultados siguiendo pistas y registrando los descubrimientos en el journal personal usando el sello de goma dentro del letterbox. Además, los letterboxers tienen sellos personales que utilicen para imprimir el journal dentro de los letterboxes ocultados.

Please add your favorite non-English translation to this entry.

What are the different types of letterboxes?

Traditional: A traditional box is the standard, run-of-the-mill letterbox with a rubber stamp, a logbook and requires clues to find.
Hitchhiker: The original spinoff, hitchhikers have a rubber stamp and a logbook and travel from box to box, hitching rides between boxes from the letterboxers who find it. It is okay to leave a hitchhiker behind if you do not feel like carrying the hitchhiker to a different letterbox. The category has been extended to also include cooties and fleas (which can travel from person-to-person).
Postal: A postal is a rubber stamp and the logbook that’s mailed from one letterboxer to another, usually through the USPS.
Personal Traveler: A stamp that a letterboxer carries that can be ‘found’—usually by answering questions or doing something for that person. The clues will state what the requirements are to get the traveler.
LTC: Short for Letterboxer Trading Cards, an LTC is like a baseball card that can be swapped and traded. They are handmade by letterboxers and should include some sort of stamp in the image. A standard LTC has a fixed 2.5" x 3.5" dimensions, but a growing number of non-standard sizes and shapes are now being included in this category including inchies, quisps, postcards and bookmarks.
Event Box: A box whose sole purpose is to be present at an event or gathering for other people to stamp into. Typically, they’re readily available on tabletops, in ice chests, and otherwise hanging around waiting for your observant eye to stumble onto them and usually don’t require clues to find. Some event boxes might have clues. For example, if they’re locked in a container and the clue is needed for the combination. (Not to be confused with a traditional box since the box itself isn’t hidden and out of sight—it’s just inaccessible until the combination is figured out.)
Other: For anything else that doesn’t quite fit into any other category, it can be labeled as an “other” box. Usually it involves a rubber stamp, but in a context that none of the other terms conveys.

What should I do if someone plants a letterbox on my private property?

If there is a letter box on your private property, contact the planter. Explain that it was planted on your property and ask them to please remove it. If you get no response from the planter, and the clue is listed on Atlas Quest, you can contact an administrator and ask them to remove the listing so that no one trespasses on your property to look for it.

I picked up a "traveler" from a traditional letterbox, but the definition of personal traveler doesn't match. What did I find?

The LbNA website calls all non-traditional letterboxes into a single category called "travellers" (or "travelers" depending on the page you are viewing--the spelling seems to shift from page to page)--lumping hitchhikers, fleas, cooties, postals, virtuals, and personal travelers into a single catch-all term. In AQ-speak, it would be the same as calling it a non-traditional letterbox. In England, they always use the term 'traveler' rather than 'hitchhiker.'

In any case, you almost certainly found a hitchhiker, and you treat it like you would any other hitchhiker. If the hitchhiker's goal is to get closer to a specific location, help it along in the correct direction if you can, but don't sweat it if you can't. Just rehide the hitchhiker with another letterbox and hope the next person to find it can move it along in the correct direction later.

How did the '100 Ways for Barbie to Die' series in Illinois come about?

Where the Death of Barbie began:

2011: a Stamp Odyssey
Augusta, MO Sept 16-18th 2011.

HowDgirls and I(shorty) finished up all 50 or so boxes by Saturday night. At this point we were headed back to the cabins.

When crossing through the parking lot at beautiful Klondike Park, we saw a baby doll under a car. Surely we both thought it was either a clue or a kid lost their doll. So instinctively I lifted up the doll and sure enough there were 2 peices of paper with the same clue hand written stating 'go to the pole at the end of the lot.'

We did, and yet another doll, with another set of 'clues' that led to the park sign, then to the boulder, light pole, ect...

The entire time(we found like 7 sets of dolls and clues) we were both wondering who did this and what the box was going to be!? In my mind, "Ohh how are they going to kill off Barbie?" Surely the naked and creepy dolls hidden around have something to do with Barbie's Demise! When we reached the final clue and baby doll from 'The Incredibles' it said head up to the cabin and take a doll.

So we take the baby and go to Cabin C-the only other occupied cabin. This cabin held the loud and rambunctious Deniserows, Dezert Ratty, Rozebud, and frontrangehiker.

Dezert Ratty takes up to Cabin B-a non letterboxing occupied cabin of family campers. Come to find out, this was a birthday party for their daughter as a prank for them to do later, and no letterbox was involved! We were not the first to 'take a token at the end' either! So we explained to the family what 'we do' and they explained what they 'are doing' and how they would be perfect letterboxers!

The 'MO' hiding spot

Anyway, HowDgirls and I(shorty) were dissapointed we found no dead barbie, so we decided to make a box of our own! From our goodie bags I dig Toasters kindly prepared for attendees, we have an Altoid tin, logbook, pen, and piece of carving material all ready to be used! Luckily HowDgirls brought their carving tools!
So I(shorty) drew up '100 Ways for Barbie to Die: Lynched' and the opposite of Hello Kitty--'Goodbye Kitty' for Diana Dolphin to carve. Dezert Ratty had picked up the dolls after the party and gave us a Barbie and Kitty, and boxes were born!

I hung Barbie(dismembered of coarse!) from my car with clues to a rock, which housed one of her legs sticking out of the ground with the final clues to a temporary resting spot for the lynched blonde!
Atop of my bumper sat 'Goodby Kitty' ax in hand!

There were quite a few 'PJ and Nightboxers' before everyone called it quits that night in the lot and lots of laughs were had!

This started the need for a 100 Ways for Barbie to Die series, now being permanently planted in various places throughout Illinois!

So now you know the background of this morbid series, and know that Im not a complete creep planting dead barbies!
Now all you need to do is keep an eye out for a Dead Barbie near you!

Also for those that like to carve creative stamps-please contact me(shorty) if you would like to donate a way for Barbie to meet her Demise! I will be planting untill I have 100 of them.


Who are the 'participants'?

These let you narrow down your search based on how various people can interact with a letterbox.

  • Owner: Only include boxes that are owned by the specified person.
  • Planter: Only include boxes that are planted by the specified person.
  • Finder: Only include boxes that have been found by the specified person.
  • Attempter: Only include boxes that have been attempted by the specified person.
  • Carver: Only include boxes that are carved by the specified person.

  • Hide Owner: Do not include boxes that are owned by the specified person. (This is ignored if you specify an owner, since it makes absolutely no sense to hide all boxes owned by a specific person that you want to view.)
  • Hide Planter: Do not include boxes that are planted by the specified person.
  • Hide Finder: Do not include boxes that have been found by the specified person.
  • Hide Attempter: Do not include boxes that have been attempted by the specified person.
  • Hide Carver: Do not include boxes that have been carved by the specified person.

Keep in mind that if you specify a person who has made that section of their logbook private in their Privacy Preferences, AQ will ignore the request without any warning. The plants, finds, attempts, and carves can each be private. An owner-based search will always work corrected.

Hiding the planter/finder of a box can be useful if you plan to letterbox with a friend and want to narrow down the results to boxes that neither of you have found.

Combining multiple options can allow you to mimic some logbook pages such as adopted boxes (a box where someone is the owner but hide their plants), donated boxes (a box where someone is the carver but hide their plants), and maintained boxes (a box where someone is the owner and has also found the box).

As noted in the list above, it makes no sense to hide all boxes by a specific person and show all boxes by a specific person at the same time. If the two are the same, it eliminates all boxes, and if the two are different, a box owned by ABC cannot be owned by XYZ at the same time, so eliminating XYZ's boxes would be redundant. So the hide owner option will be ignored if you've specified an owner. Since a single listing can have multiple planters, finders, attempters, and carvers, you can use both options to show and hide each of them. It may not be intuitive to "show all boxes planted by ABC and hide all boxes planted by ABC," but what happens is you'll wind up with a list of jointly-planted boxes where one of the planters is ABC. ABC is a planter—and other planter is not ABC, so it's a match. For couples who usually plant jointly, you could create a list of non-joint plants by showing all of your boxes and hiding all boxes planted by your boxing partner. It's a little confusing to use a show/hide option at the same time, but it does work—except for the owner option since all boxes have one and only one owner.

How do I obtain the clues to a WOM letterbox?

A "WOM" box is a traditional letterbox that involves a clue that is not available online; you must obtain the clue directly from another letterboxer. There are many variations; possibilities include:

  • You must contact the owner for the clue

  • You may get the clue from some other boxer who has it (nicknamed a "gossip box")

  • The previous finder is the only one who has the clue; there is only one copy, and it must be shared individual-to-individual, in person.

Whatever method is chosen by the planter should be clarified within the clue itself, so that whomever has the clue in hand knows full well whether or not he is supposed to share it. The planter also has the option of describing the clue dispersal method within the "clue" field for the listing on AQ so that those seeking the clue know what they must do to obtain it.

When in doubt, never share a WOM clue; refer others to the owner for the clue. If you are seeking the clue to a WOM box, you may contact the owner, but it is considered poor etiquette to contact previous finders or to post a message in an online forum asking if anyone has the clues.

How do I remove all tags of a certain color from all of my boxes?

  • Run a search for all boxes tagged with your color. Yellow Blue Red Green Purple Orange Silver Cyan
  • Click the Check All Boxes button at the bottom of the search results.
  • Change the tag control color to the color you want removed. (It should be set to correct color automatically if you ran a search with one tag color selected, but change it if it's incorrect.)
  • Click the Remove Tags button.

Since search results display a maximum of 100 boxes per page, you can only remove 100 tags from boxes in one fell swoop. If you used the tag on more boxes than that, you'll have to repeat these steps until each page has had their tags removed.

Related Questions

How do I tag and untag letterboxes?
What is a 'tagged' letterbox?

How do I tag and untag letterboxes?

If you want to add or remove tags from a single letterbox, go to the details page for that box. At the bottom of the right-hand column is a section title Your Tags. Check whichever tags you want on your box and uncheck those that you don't want, then save your changes.

To tag multiple boxes at once from a page of search results, check which boxes you want to add a tag to, then scroll to the bottom of the results where the Tag Control panel is located. Change the label to the color you want to add to your selections, then click Add Tags to add them. To remove a given colored tag from the results, do the same thing except click the Remove Tags options instead.

Note: The tag control works only with the current page of search results! You can't select multiple boxes across several pages and add or remove tags across all of those pages at once.

Also, when you record a find, there is an option to select (or unselect) tags for the box or series you are recording the find on. This is particularly useful if you want to remove a tag once you've found a box or if you are using tags to keep track of boxes you attempted but don't meet the threshold of an attempt on Atlas Quest (which is when you search for the box and believe it to be missing). You can adjust the tags right along with all of the other pertinent details of the find.

Related Questions

What is a 'tagged' letterbox?
How do I remove all tags of a certain color from all of my boxes?

What is an "Add-on Box"?

An add-on box is a single letterbox that invites finders to add another stamp to it based on the theme of the box. The first add-on box was Jay's Tool Box in Troutdale, Oregon. It was tool themed and planted in a tool box. It began with 3 small stamps and a log book. It survived in its location for over 7 years before being muggled. Just before it went missing it had collected over 80 stamps from boxers that had visited from all over the country. Hitchhikers should not be placed in add-on boxes due to the high likelyhood of confusion. If you plan to contribute a stamp, keep it small! Most should be 1.5" or smaller. Be sure to email the placer with your contribution so they can add it to the clue.

If you are planting an add-on box, think about your location. Is it easy to take someplace and sit for an extended time to stamp in? If your box ends up with a considerable number of stamps, it can take up to an hour to stamp in. Is your hiding place big enough for a bigger container in the event that it fills up? Think about your theme. Are there lots of possibilities for people to use? Start with a few but don't try to do them all, leave ideas for others.

When it comes to listing stamps added to an add-on box, they should be listed in the 'other' category (if they are listed at all), since you're merely contributing a stamp to an existing letterbox and not creating an entirely new letterbox.

If you like hunting for Add-on boxes, use the keyword search term, "growingbox."

Why was I not notified when a new letterbox was planted in my area?

When notifications for favorite searches are run, it will look for any boxes listed since the last time that favorite search was checked that match the search. If the search doesn't match the box the first time it is checked, you will not get a notification even if the box is later modified to match your search.

An example might make this clear:

  1. Someone lists a letterbox, for has trouble entering a location and for the time being, leaves it blank. They'll figure it out later.
  2. Your favorite search for "Seattle, WA," runs, looking for newly listed boxes in the Seattle area. The new box from the previous step is NOT a match since it's still marked as a "World-wide mystery" and AQ has no way of knowing it's actually in the Seattle area.
  3. The planter gets back online a couple of hours later and fixes the location problem on their box. Now AQ knows the box is in Seattle.
  4. But it's too late for your favorite search. The next time it runs, it looks for boxes planted since the last time the search was run, and this box was added before that. You will never get a notification about the box.

There's no way to eliminate this problem completely, but it is much more likely to happen when you have favorite search notifications running every 15 minutes than it does when it's running once per week. The shorter the internal between checks, the less likely the necessary problems had been fixed.

What is an Eevil Letterbox?

An eevil letterbox is a letterbox in which the clue goes beyond the mundane or simplistic. Often used to describe mystery boxes, the term eevil is a badge of honor to those who go the extra mile to create a box with creative or difficult clues. The term eevil was originally coined by Dancin' Bat of PA back in 2005.

What is a substitution code?

A substitution code, also called a substitution cipher, is when one thing takes the place of another. For example different letters, numbers, symbols, pictures might stand for letters of the alphabet. The word "code" might be represented as 3,15,4,5 or perhaps as X,L,W,V. In the numerical example numbers substitute for letters of the alphabet. In the second example a backwards alphabet substitutes for the normal one. Letters, numbers, symbols might substitute for syllables or words in a code.

What do all the options for printing multiple clues mean?

Include table of contents?
If you're printing clues for a lot of letterboxes, it might help to also print a table of contents showing you the order the boxes. If you're just printing a few clues, you might consider that a waste of paper and ink and choose to skip it. The choice is yours!

One clue per page?
Some people prefer to cram as many clues as possible into a single page to save paper while others prefer to print each clue on a separate page so they can change the order easily. If you select this option, we'll try to print no more than one clue per page. Otherwise, we'll try to fit as many clues as possible on each page.

Allow split clues?
Sometimes a clue will spill off the end of a printed page and continue onto the next page. That's called a 'split clue' for our purposes, and requires that pages stay in the printed order so you can follow the clue from one page to the next and can be a hassle to deal with. If you don't allow split clues, we'll start the clue on a new page if it won't completely fit on the current page. (If the clue is so large that it can't fit on a page entirely by itself, it will still start on a new page, but split anyhow onto subsequent pages.) If you've selected the previous option to print only one clue per page, this option won't have any effect since one clue per page already prevents split clues.

Show QR codes to record finds?
If you use a smartphone to record your finds and attempts (but prefer paper clues for searches), you can choose to print QR codes that will take you directly to the record find/attempt page for the given box or series. If you don't use a smartphone or prefer to record your finds on a desktop when you get home, you'd have no reason to print such QR codes.

Use single-column layout?
Studies have shown that it's more difficult for people to read long lines of text than shorter lines of text. Thus, the reason that newspaper columns are that—columns. Some people don't like columns in their printed clues, however, and here you can choose if you want your clues to show up as multiple columns or just a single column. If you view/print clues to a small device like a smartphone, you won't see columns regardless of this selection—there's just not enough room for columns. But on a large desktop or most printed materials, you'll see two columns. Two columns can also save space on printed pages if the information on it is particularly narrow—it'll ensure that both sides of your page are printed on rather than just a single column with a lot of white space on the right half of the page.

Hide box details?
Some people feel that a lot of the stuff provided with clues is fluff because it's not needed to actually find the boxes. The owner of the box, the carvers, the plant date, the find summaries, etc. All fluff! Most people like seeing this fluff, however, and if you do, make sure not to check this option which will hide the fluff.

A note about older browsers

Some of these options won't work at all with older browsers. If you're using the most recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari or IE, no problem! Most people have relatively current versions of Firefox, Chrome and Safari and all features will work fine. Internet Explorer often cannot be updated on older operating systems, however, so if you're on an older computer with Internet Explorer, many of these options simply won't work. The table of contents, QR codes, and hide box details options should work with all browsers on all computers since they don't rely on new CSS constructs to work correctly.

What happened to virtual boxes?

Virtuals are a slippery term to describe 'online letterboxes.' Historically, it required an online hunt through websites in order to solve a puzzle, but they eventually grew into one-word answers that could often be solved without any research at all. As standards went down, they were eventually moved into their own category. Eventually, people largely stopped using them and support was finally dropped at the end of 2014. You'll still find a few virtual boxes listed on private websites, however. To learn more about virtuals and chat with other fans of virtual boxes, join the Virtuals Group.

Where is the "Search for my letterboxes" function?

Under the My Page menubar option, select My Logbook. Choose Plants for action if it isn't already select, then click Go.

What is good to use for a mailbox?

Not really clear what is being asked. I think you mean what would be to use for a container for a letterbox. Lock n Lock plastic food containers about 4 x 6"" make good containers for letterboxes. Some people like to use plastic peanut-butter jars with screw-on lids.

How do I post my own letterbox online?

Register on Atlas Quest. Go to the Letterboxes menubar option and select Add Letterbox. Fill in the necessary information before Saving the clue (if you want to publish it publicly later) or Publish the clue (if you want to make it available to everyone immediately).