"The Washburn Challenge"
I'm not sure how many years the Washburn Challenge existed before I found out about it in 2007.
While attending the meeting of my Local Chapter of American First Day Cover Society I was offered the opportunity to participate in the 2007 Contest.
The rules were simple. Cachet Makers would receive three un-stamped covers with printed cachets created for the mysterious "Jim Washburn" (alias - no one knows for sure exactly "who" he is). The participating cachet maker would then apply stamp(s) and obtain cancellations. The three covers were to be placed into the mail system and would arrive at three designated addresses.
The first cover went to The American First Day Cover Society to be donated for their annual auction. The second went to "Jim Washburn". The third went to the cachet maker for his/her personal collection.
There were Seven Categories judged in the years I participated in... "Most Creative Overall", Most Interesting US FDC", "Most Interesting Use of US Postage", "Most Interesting Use of Foreign or UN Postage", "Most Remote Mailing Location by Postmark", and "Highest Denomination US Franking". It was all in fun... the AFDCS benefited with donated entry covers, and each contestant "could" win a prize package of really "odd" "Odds & Ends" relating to philately.
Part of the "Fun" was the fact that no one knows for sure exactly "who" Washburn is... and many including myself have made some attempts to find the answer. Many of us have continued to receive First Day Covers for various stamp issues applied to the nicely printed cachet envelopes that were illustrated by well known comic book artist Rick Geary. *(I found this out by some decetive work and contacted him... he wouldn't reveal who Washburn was but did acknowledge that he did the artwork for him each year). I have maintained contact with the "Mystery Man" over the years and still receive ocassional FDCs and have sent some of my own to him... via the Bretton Woods address used in the contests.
The Last Contest... 2009
For this year I did a nice cachet based on a Naval Theme. I franked it with the 50c Admiral Nimitz and the 1936 Texas Centennial stamps and received cancels from the USS San Antonio LPD-17... my "added cachet" was a "Texas Navy" logo that I put together. After not hearing from Mr. Washburn for awhile I contacted him and found that he did indeed receive his cover, I received mine and I assume AFDCS did too...
No results were ever given out for the 2009 Challenge and no contests have been conducted since.
I will post scans of my entries and a few of the FDCs that Jim has sent me over the years on this page below.
My First Entry Cover - 2007 - "Most Creative Winner"
My Entry Cover for 2008 - "Most Creative Winner"
"UnOfficial Cover Where the Greenville Frog Started Skiing"
Adaptation to EmPrint Version on 1998 Alpine Skier FDC
My 2009 Entry Cover... No Contest Results Ever Given.
Here are some of the First Day Cover Cachets Sent to me by "Jim Washburn" over the years... there are many more these are just a few examples.
Note: I have posted only one to date...
... others will be added as soon as I get the scans ready.