How Letterboxing Works

Letterbox Lexicon

Image courtesy AtlasQuest

Letterboxers use lots of acronyms and odd terms that can baffle outsiders. Here's a quick rundown of some of the terms you might encounter when on a letterbox site.

100 Club - an old Dartmoor organization that only admits people who have found at least 100 letterboxes. Members have access to an official book of Dartmoor clues. Some American organizations have similar clubs for people who reach specific milestones in letterboxing.

Bonus box - a bonus box is a letterbox located near a second letterbox. The second letterbox contains the clues to the bonus box's location.

Cooties - small letterboxes that encourage players to be sneaky. Letterboxers try to sneak cooties into the possession of other letterboxers. If you receive a cootie, you should stamp it (some letterboxers use their thumbprint instead of their normal stamp) and then try to hide it on someone else.

Cuckoo clue - a clue found within a letterbox that leads to a different letterbox (a variation of a bonus box). However, when you find a cuckoo clue, you should take the clue with you and put it in yet another letterbox (not the cuckoo clue's own letterbox, obviously) for someone else to find.

Hitchhiker - a letterbox that fits into other letterboxes. When you find a hitchhiker, you can stamp the accompanying logbook (and use the hitchhiker's stamp on your own logbook), then take the hitchhiker with you to put in a different letterbox later.

Muggle - a non-letterboxer, a mundane, also known as noxers.

Mystery box - a letterbox that has very broad, vague clues. Initial clues are intentionally obscure, challenging letterboxers to determine the correct starting point for a hunt.

Pace - a measure of distance, for example 20 paces from the old tree stump. Letterboxers disagree on whether a pace consists of one or two steps as well as how long an individual step should be, so many people avoid using the term at all.

PFX - stands for planted, found and exchanged. A PFX count tells you how many letterboxes someone has hidden, discovered or made an exchange with another letterboxer (most often an exchange of stamps). For example, if you had hidden five letterboxes and found 45, your count would be P5F45.

Scavenging - looking for letterboxes without the benefit of having any clues. To get clues to Dartmoor letterboxes, you need to be in the 100 Club, but to be in the 100 Club you need to find 100 letterboxes. Most people search around likely spots in Dartmoor for letterboxes to reach 100 finds.

Spoiler - something that gives away the location of a letterbox that should have been kept secret.

S.P.O.R. - a suspicious pile of rocks, often marking the hiding place of a letterbox. Letterboxers will often use rocks to both obscure a letterbox and secure it in its hiding place.

For more information about letterboxing, check out the links below.

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More Great Links


  • Atlas Quest
  • Granstrom, Chris. "They live and breathe letterboxing." Smithsonian, Vol. 29 Issue 1, 1998.
  • Letterboxing North America
  • Letterboxing 101
  • Letterboxing.Info