The Washburn Challenge 


I received the three "Entry Covers" for 2007 and the "Bretton Woods" cachet had a "golf" theme.  The contest didn't actually require my adding my own cachet, but that's what I do!

So, thinking about golf I put together the idea of using that old "Hello My Baby" singing frog on the "Green" with his putter, having  the Kermit Stamp played on the "Easy to be Green" (in Greenville)... So, I traveled to Greenville, TX to obtain cancels.

The main object for the contest was use of stamps and cancels - not so much cachets...

So, after painting all three and applying the "Frog" stamps I took off to Greenville only to find the Post Office closed... it was a Saturday and it took just a bit longer to get there than I expected... "Rats!"... or "Frogs!"

I couldn't stay and didn't have time before the deadline to come back another day so I took a chance and dropped them into the mail slot...

As you can see in the scan I didn't obtain my "Greenville" cancel.  They were sent to the main North Texas Mail Center and were sprayed with that cancel that really didn't tell the story that I had intended.

But!... I won "Most Creative Overall" even with the wrong cancel.


When the 2008 Entry Covers arrived I saw that this year the "Bretton Woods" cachet was all about skiing.

I have a great customer in Stockholm Sweden and one of the categories was "The Most Remote Cancellation"...

So, I contacted my Swedish Customer and arranged for him to obtain cancellations in Stockholm and return them to me under separate cover...

... I also painted one for him as a "thank you" for doing this.

Again I felt the urge to add my own small cachet of the Swedish Flag with Map.

I was a bit surprised to not win the "Most Remote" category but rather again "Most Creative".

I don't remember exactly "where" the winning cancel for "Most Remote" was but I guess it was farther "away" than Sweden...

Another "Fun" Awards Package and another year of helping raise funds for the AFDCS.


For 2009 I didn't feel any particular inspiration from the "Bretton Woods" cachet but being "creative" I thought about using the "Texas Navy" logo that I had recently painted for a USS Texas cachet... and sent my Entry Covers to a new US Navy Ship... USS San Antonio LPD-11.

It all fit together nicely with the "Texas Navy Logo", USS San Antonio Ships Cancel, & the Chester Nimitz and Alamo stamps...

It was a bit risky sending them to the ship for cancels but I included a very nice letter explaining the "importance" of getting the cancels and asking for "careful" application... all of which happily I did receive!

I received my cover and I "think" that "Jim" and AFDCS also received theirs as well...

... but, after entering this fun contest for only these three years this year the contestants never received any word from the "Mystery Man" Jim Washburn... and this was the last year that the contest was held.

As explained in the "rest of the story" below I was able to keep in touch with "Jim" for several years but never found out his real identity.

Hope he's doing well.

Fun... While it lasted!

I'm not sure how many years this "Washburn Challenge" existed before I became aware of it but while attending a meeting of my Local Chapter of the American First Day Cover Society a member held up two Washburn Challenge Entry Forms asking if anyone attending would like to participate.  After hearing that it was an annual contest with some "just for fun" awards for winners that it benefited the AFDCS...

I decided to try it!

Each year contestants would receive three of his envelopes with Bretton Woods Cachets printed on them.

We were to apply postage and have each of them

sent through the mail.

One to the AFDCS

One to "Jim"


One to our self for our own collection. 

The AFDCS would then include their covers of all entries in their auctions and benefit from the sale.  I'm not sure, but I think on average a dozen or so cachet makers took part with 5 or 6 Category Winners each year.

"Jim Washburn" was one of several aliases the promoter of the contest used and he has successfully kept his true identity secret up to now...

... as far as I know that is. 

I was able to discover the name of the professional comic book illustrator that he used each year to create his "Contest Covers".

I was trying to find his identity only because the 2009 Contest never had any "Winners" announced... and since that time no contest has been held and I was concerned about his welfare. 

The Comic Book Artist told me that as far as he know "Jim" was okay because he had already ordered that year's cachet.  As it turned out these were used only for "Jim" obtaining First Day Cancels to send to his friends and contestants from previous years' contests.

For several years I did continue receiving gift First Day Covers from "Jim" and I have successfully communicated with him via "Snail Mail" using his mailing address several times... but nothing since 2016.

I am happy to have won "Most Creative" honors for the first two years that I participated and like to think that maybe I would have won something with my USS San Antonio 2009 Entry...

... the "Prize" each year was a package of humorous "Odds 'n Ends" - printed materials and small keep-sake type items that could fit in the 10" x 13" mailer "Jim" used to send them in...

Like I said - "Just for Fun"!

... and it was an honor to have won a couple of times to be sure!