What is an Armchair Treasure Hunt?
Many people hadn’t realized armchair treasures hunts existed until vast attention was devoted to the search for Forrest Fenn’s treasure. Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt is a search for a million-dollar bronze treasure chest, filled with gold and other jewels, hidden somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe. The incredible quest for this treasure has shone light on other hunts and prompted more people to ask, ‘What is an Armchair Treasure Hunt?
A basic definition for an Armchair Treasure Hunt is ‘a produced hunt for a treasure which has been intentionally hidden and requires the solving of clues to either physically find a secreted treasure or provide a correct claim for the treasure hunt’s prize’. There are various formats and ways these treasure hunts can be constructed. (MW (this site) is currently hosting an armchair treasure hunt entitled The Sacred Scarab)
One of the first ever produced armchair treasure hunts is considered to be Masquerade by Kit Williams. Masquerade was a children’s book which contained clues, within its story and images, leading to a buried golden jeweled hare. It was published in the UK in 1979 with hundreds of thousands of copies being sold worldwide. The hunt’s prize was valued at about $5000 dollars and was unearthed in 1982.
The solution to Masquerade required searchers to draw lines from creatures’ eyes through longest digits (finger/toe) to pinpoint letters in phrases. The phrases surrounded the illustrations of where the creatures were located. These pinpointed letters then formed a ‘Riddle’, which once solved, told a searcher where to dig up the Golden Hare/treasure. There was the phrase, “you must use your eyes”, within the book, which cued searchers into this method. Other clues discovered within the book supported the method and solution.
Today, as mentioned, the most widely known armchair treasure hunt is Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt, The Thrill of the Chase. This hunt is in the simple format of a Poem of 24 lines (click here to read treasure poem). The poem holds nine clues, that once understood and followed correctly, will lead a person to a hidden 10x10x5 bronze treasure chest filled with gold and other rare artifacts.
Although Forrest Fenn’s poem is included within his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, which is said to include additional assistance to help understand and solve the Poem, the Poem is believed to be all you need to discover the exact location of the hunt’s extraordinary prize. If you find Forrest’s hidden treasure chest, you can keep the million-dollar cache.
Since the release of Masquerade in 1979, numerous other armchair treasure hunts have been published or produced. Treasure; In Search of the Golden Horse was one of the first to be published in the USA in 1984. Its prize was for $500,000 dollars. No one was able to solve Treasure in the allotted time, and so in 1989 the horse was dug up and the cash prize given to charity.
The assumed solution to this hunt, as Kurt Konecny comments on in his article, ‘Treasure: In Search of the Golden Horse’, “required searchers to decipher several words from the book, using different kinds of ciphers, and then run that string of words through a matrix to reveal the phrase ‘try route two dozen’, which when coupled with other clues from the book would lead to Tennessee Pass, Colorado, and to the memorial stone which was to be used as a starting point.”
Some armchair treasure hunts, like Unicornis(1983), The Secret (1982), or The Whistle Pig(2003), do not have any deadline for the finding of the treasure, and so go unsolved for years; their treasures waiting patiently to be found yet today. It’s possible some of the treasures hidden in these hunts are lost to the passing of time. Nonetheless, searchers still work on them, even after 30 years, in hopes of discovery.
Other treasure hunts are found within a relatively short time. Like the recent $50,000 dollar treasure from the Breakfast Tea & Bourbon armchair hunt. This hunt involved the solving of clues from a book (Breakfast Tea & Bourbon), which led to the location of a hidden ‘Suling’. The Suling was then used by the finders to claim $50,000 in cash. The hunt was released in February 2017 and successfully ended in July 2017. The treasure was found in Hot Springs NP, Arkansas.
Over the years, various armchair hunts have been produced. What makes them an armchair treasure hunt is the fact there are clues to solve in order to find or claim the treasure.
Some are created to last years, and be very difficult to solve, like Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt. Others are created to last only a few years, and be more easily to solve, like A Treasure’s Trove ((2004)12 tokens were hidden across the USA. They all were found and redeemed for valuable jewels in 2005).
Some are successful. Some not so successful, but they are always fun!
Read the list: MW’s top ten armchair treasure hunts to decide what hunt you might want to work on. This page is continuously updated as hunts are solved and new ones released.
Best of luck to all that you seek! Treasure the Adventure!
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