Letterboxing Trading Cards

Artistic Trading Cards (ATC's) have been around for years. Basically they are a 3.5" x 2.5" card -- the same size as a standard baseball card -- decorated with anything the artist desires. These cards are made to trade with other artist for their ATC's.

Late 2007, a new trend popped up in the Letterboxing world. ATC's with a handcarved stamp some how worked into the cards design, these cards would be dubbed LTC's -- Letterboxing Trading Cards.

I had little interest in LTC's. I had done a couple of Postal Letterboxes and didn't care for the costs or delays in getting the next package in the mail.

I got my first card from Shorty, I must admit it was kinda cool looking. I still had little interest. But I kept going back to Shorty's great looking card!

I then decided to join a bunch of others in creating cards to welcome the New Year (2008). I even told them that this maybe the only card I ever make . . . but then . . . a package arrived in the mail, and my stance on LTC's.

I received such beautiful works of art from all over the country. The carving talents stunned me, and the presentations of their carvings embellished with anything you can imagine just blows me away.

Here are some examples of cards that I have made. I'm really not creative enough to do much embellishing, as a result 99.9% of my cards are just a stamp on some colorful cardstock. So, what I lack in creativity I try to make up with in a detailed stamp.

Not all the cards below are retired, so if you like to be surprised don't scroll down.

Also, not all the cards below are available any longer -- regardless of status on AQ.

"Hart x6 Signature Card ~ Gold Edition"

The first LTC Ring I hosted was a "self portrait" theme. I've received so many wonderful cards from wonderful people -- people I have never met before. So, this was to allow me to see the "faces" of those people.

This was my contribution, a compilation of my self portrait, signature stamp & signature. My signature stamp is embossed in gold . . . thus the "Gold Edition."

"Baby New Year 1908 - 2008"   

I did some research on "Baby New Year" and found this image from The Saturday Evening Post. The image was created by J. C. Leyendecker. Being a history buff I loved the fact it was the 100th anniversary of this cover and decided to re-create it with a slight modification of the date.

I didn't carve the title, otherwise the stork, baby & date are all carved. I stamped the image with black ink and colored it in with colored pencils. After coloring in 25 cards with 8 different pencils I decided that probably wasn't the best idea . . . though, I do like how they turned out.

"My Hometown -- John Deere"

Before I received the cards for the New Years swap I joined two more swaps. The theme for both were "My Hometown."

I live in Moline, IL home of John Deere World Headquarters. John Deere lived here from 1848 until his death in 1886.

This card consists of 3 stamps. The barn, tree, windmill & grass are all one stamp. The John Deere logo with my city & state are another stamp and the Portrait of Mr. Deere the third and final stamp.

Over time the image of my signature stamp on the back of this card bled through. Once I realized this being a problem I stopped stamping the back of my cards.

"From Death to Life"

The image in the middle of this carving says, "DEATH" and when you turn the card over it says, "LIFE."

The card is from Romans 6:23 that reads; "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

"School Colors"

My High School, with the worst school colors ever . . . unless its Halloween.

The worst part of this card is how my ink bled, so the lines get thick and run into eachother. I still like the look of the shield though.

"The Spirit of God"

This stamp was carved for Pitties "Noahs Ark" letterbox.

"Family Portraits -- Thomas Rodman Hart"

Thomas Rodman Hart (my Great-Great-Grandfather).

This picture is of Thomas Rodman Hart shortly after his discharge.

Military service: Enlisted November 24, 1861 in Company F, 98th New York Infantry. Honorably Discharged December 05, 1862 in Providence, Rhode Island, due to a disability (Military History Of Wayne County, N. Y. The County In The Civil War, by Lewis H. Clark, p. 121).

History of the 98th Regiment Infantry "Malone and Lyons Regiment" up until Thomas Rodman was discharged;

Organized Cos. "F," "I" and "K" at Lyons, N.Y., January 25-February 8, 1862. Organization completed at Albany, N.Y. Left State for Washington, D.C., March 8, 1862. Attached to 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 4th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps, to July, 1862. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 4th Army Corps, to December, 1862. Naglee's Brigade, Dept. of North Carolina, to January, 1863.

SERVICE.--Moved to the Virginia Peninsula March 28, 1862. Siege of Yorktown, Va., April 5-May 4. Reconnaissance toward Lee's Mills April 29. Battle of Williamsburg May 5. Operations about Bottom's Bridge May 21-23. Reconnaissance to Seven Pines May 24-27. Chickahominy, near Savage Station, and Seven Pines May 24. Battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks May 31-June 1. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. White Oak Swamp June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. At Harrison's Landing until August 16. Moved to Fortress Monroe August 16-23, and duty there until September 18. Duty at Yorktown until December.

Thomas Rodman Hart married Minnie Mae Sargent
Frank Hiram Hart married Thelma Sara Hart (distant cousins)
Covell J. Hart married Ruth Alice Teague
Kenneth Wesley Hart married Connie Neal Easter
Matthew Jacob Hart (thats me!!)

"Favorite Seasons -- WHOA!!"

Winter is NOT my favorite season . . . but I couldn't resist the image!

This card took forever, and if it weren't for Becki they may never have gotten done!

She cut the slot in the back, and put the pins through to put the movement. The sled slides from the lower right corner to the upper left corner . . . as if she's sledding right off the card.

By far my most complicated card.

"The Most Famous Person I've met is King Hussein of Jordan"

It was the spring of 1996, after a week touring Israel we crossed the boarder into Jordan for a 5 day trip.

I remember eating red Jello after my dinner at the hotel when all of a sudden there was a huge commotion; "The King is here!"

Apparently it had been 5 years since he visited this hotel in Amman and he was up in a banquette room on the top floor. And wouldn't you know it, I left my camera in my room!

There were 2 elevators and both were under guard and no one was allowed on. People crushed into the hotel lobby, I squeezed in toward the front of the group and an elderly lady from my group handed her camera to me asking if I could get a picture.

I really didn't believe I would get anything, I figured he would get off the elevator under armed guards and whisked away without so much as a wave of the hand.

To my surprise he got off the elevator and walked right into the crowd shaking hands, to my bigger surprise he was shorter than I, perhaps about 5'2".

I snapped off a couple of pictures as he walked towards me, I lowered the camera and stuck out my hand . . . and the King reached out and shook my hand!!

Months later the woman of whom's camera I took the pictures mailed me the 2 shots that I got, If I get around to finding them I will post one on here with the clues . . . you can even see Queen Noor in the background.

My impressions of King Hussein were very high before I met him. Apparently about the time of my visit in 1996 a couple if Israeli's (civilians as I re-call) were shot and killed by the Jordanian Military. King Hussein crossed the boarder into Israel and personally met with the family members to offer his appologizes.

A quote from one of the websites I found when researching images to carve;

". . . he brought the wisdom to walk in the path of honour, the courage to follow his convictions, and an abiding compassion for others. He enriched us all by the nobility of his spirit."

This card is in honor and memory of King Hussien (November 14, 1935 – February 7, 1999) and the day that I got to shake his hand.

"Musical Legends: Louis Armstrong"

Louis Armstong. What more can I say. When I was carving this stamp at my desk I kept playing, "What a Wonderful World" on YouTube.

I carved this stamp as an Event Stamp for the SILO 2 gathering in Lake Bluff, Illinois. When I got the stamp back I recycled it into an LTC.

"Presidential Series: Abraham Lincoln"

One of the first 4 "portrait" carvings I did. Where we live in the Quad Cities is less than 3 hours drive from Springfield.

Abraham Lincoln is by far one of the most fascinating people of all times. I wont bore you with a biography here, however, I will tell you that every weekday morning for nearly 4 years I quoted Abraham Lincoln while delivering USA Today to the Rock Island Arsenal . . . as I would drive by the small Confederate Cemetery I would quote, "With malice toward none, with charity for all . . ."

The full quote, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, ...let us strive on to finish the work we are in, ...to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

This was said at his second inauguration before the Civil War ended.

"Presidential Series: U.S. Grant"

When I received my first shipment of PZ Kut, a durable rubber carving block, I decided to see how detailed I could get my carvings.

U.S. Grant was my first "portrait" carving. His beard intiminated me, not to mention the details for which I was aiming for could not possibly be carved into any other carving material (none that I've worked with anyway) as those more fragil blocks would just crumble.

I was very pleased with the outcome.

I'm also thrilled I live an hour and a half away from Grants Galena home. We make at least 2 trips a year to this wonderful little town.

"Presidential Series: William Howard Taft"

Taft is the fifth President to be represented in PZ Kut. I carved him for the "New Hampshire New Year 2009" gathering hosted by team new hampshire.

William Howard Taft has become one of my favorite portraits yet. I love how this stamp turned out.

One of the hardest things in portrait stamps is the eyes. There are no shades of gray, just black and white. Therefore, the soft lines of the eyes turn out as hard lines and the eyes just don't look right once stamped and I am rarely happy with the outcome. However, Taft's right eye (as you look at him) is probably the best eye I have ever carved.

Taft is the only portrait stamp I've done to date that doesn't have an "oops" spot. Its the only image where I am 100% happy with my carving wishing nothing different about it.


"Presidential Series: Woodrow Wilson"

Woodrow Wilson has a real distinct face, I just wish it turned out better. I just didn't get the shading down right . . . at least I like his hair.

Sorry Mr. Wilson.

"Presidential Series: Herbert Hoover"

Another President who lived about an hour from where we live. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library is located at his birth site in West Branch, Iowa.

Mr. Hoover is joining Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford & William Howard Taft in New Hampshire for the big event.

"Presidential Series: Harry S. Truman"

I haven't got shading down yet. You will notice on the first 4 Presidential cards (Lincoln, Grant, Hoover & Reagan) the shadows are just black.

The next four (Taft, Wilson, Truman & Ford) I started to implement some hatching . . . and for this one, Truman, I really did a lot of shading.

When I first stamped this image I was stunned -- and not in a good way. For the first time I considered re-carving a done stamp!

However, I always sleep on the decision. The next day I took the image with me to work, whenever I would come to a red light I would glance down at it. Over the course of the day I came to like this carving. 

I especially came to like the little shading under his lower lip... where I have the hatching in two different directions. Also, I like how the ear turned out . . . the ear was the last thing I carved and up until the point I carved it I didn't have any shading on it at all.

I thought with ALL the shading on that side of his face, his ear would stick out like a sore thumb if I didn't do any shading at all (kinda like Reagans). Though I feared with shading I would lose the lines of the ear that were ment to be there.

I'm glad to say that I didn't lose those lines, and it turned out better than I had hoped for.

If you don't know me at all, let me share that I carve exclusively with an exacto knife. Therefore, I can only hatch . . . cross hatching would be near impossible to accomplish.

"Presidential Series: Gerald Ford"

I like distinct faces. Faces you would recognize just from an outline. Faces that have prominent  features, making the individual unique.

I'm sad to say Gerald Ford just doesn't have those features . . . at least not when it comes to a black and white stamp. He looked like Gerald Ford when I started, but the finished image proves otherwise.

Maybe another line or two in the forehead area would have given him more depth. Also, I found that its hard to carve a receding hairline.

I am happy with the shading under his mouth and on his neck . . . at least its something.


"Presidential Series: Ronald Reagan"

The carving of Ronald is hidden out in the wild long before I ever heard of LTC's. I happened to have stamped some index cards with the image before I hid him . . . with the help of my red & blue ink pads I was able to create a "low budget" card.

Like Truman, I wasn't happy with this stamp the first time I inked it up. However, it has grown on me. At the time this was the most difficult carve I did . . . without any hatching, and not wanting it to turn out like "clip art", I was at a loss as to what to carve out and what to leave.

Especially when it came to the crows feet on his right eye (as you look at him). His teeth also presented a challenge for me . . . I over inked the image and it bled a little, thus he looks as if he lost a tooth.

Another President I live within an hours drive from!! Sorry, but being a history buff and living within 3 hours of 5 Presidents (two of whom during the Civil War era) just excites me.

5 Presidents? But I've only mentioned 4 . . . ah, aren't you the observant one. Shall I remind you of Mr. Obama? I don't have his stamp in the works yet, but you can count on it!!