Seven Fairfield County historical organizations have banded together to continue the tradition with the Second Annual Great Letterboxing History Hunt. The event begins on Friday, May 15 and ends with a festive family get-together at the Wilton Historical Society on Sunday, May 31 from 3-4 p.m. Letterboxing, which originated on the moors of Dartmoor, England in the 1850’s, is an outdoor walking or hiking activity that combines elements of orienteering, stamp art and puzzle-solving in a treasure hunt-style quest. This is a wonderful family activity, offering a chance to learn about reading maps, following clues, and local history.
The event is a collaboration between the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the Historical Society of Easton, the New Canaan Historical Society, the Norwalk Historical Society, Ridgefield’s Keeler Tavern Museum, the Weston Historical Society, the Westport Historical Society, and the Wilton Historical Society. Complete information about the Great Letterboxing History Hunt can be found at the event’s “host” — the Wilton Historical Society — at www.wiltonhistorical.org . Contacts, addresses, and links for each of the historical organizations, plus downloadable maps and clues will be posted.
All you need to get started is a nifty signature stamp and an ink pad. Anytime during the weeks of May 15 – May 31, get your stamp and ink pad, go to one of the historical societies listed, pick up the official Letterboxing History Hunt Map and clues there, or print one out at www.wiltonhistorical.org, and you are on your way!
Be sure to get a fun signature stamp before you start out! Make your own unique stamp or get an unusual one at the Wilton Historical Society. The Betts Store is offering Yellow Owl Workshop’s DYI “Carve-A- Stamp Kit” as well as some of their unusual stamps, all made in the USA.
Participants who stamp their official Map at all eight locations will be eligible for a prize, and will be entered in a drawing for a wonderful grand prize. All prizes will be awarded at the Wilton Historical Society closing get-together from 3-4 on Sunday, May 31. (Don’t forget to bring your fully stamped map!) A fun, family event, there will be refreshments and live music with Leigh Richards on acoustic guitar.
A Brief History of Letterboxing, from Letterboxing.Info from Silent Doug:
“According to legend, letterboxing began in southwestern England in 1854 when a Victorian gentleman named James Perrott hid his calling card in a jar in a remote area by Cranmere Pool on the moors of Dartmoor (the setting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles). Perrot was a guide on the moor, and he encouraged his clients to leave their cards in the jar, as well. Eventually, visitors began leaving a self-addressed post card or note in the jar, hoping for them to be returned by mail by the next visitor (thus the origin of the term “letterboxing”. “Letterbox” is a British term for what we in the U.S. know as a mailbox). This practice ended in time, however, and the current custom of using rubber stamps and logbooks came into use.”
Letterboxing did not begin in the United States until 1998, when an article in Smithsonian prompted interest. In Connecticut, there are letterboxes and clues at all 32 State Forests!