World's Oldest Message In A Bottle Thrown To The Sea In 1886 Found In Australia


The world's oldest message in a bottle has been accidentally found at a beach near Wedge Island, Australia in January.

132-Year-Old Gin Bottle

Tonya Illman found the 132-year-old gin bottle and picked it up because of its distinct and raised lettering. Inside the uncorked bottle was something that looks like a cigarette.

Illman and her family eventually found that the object was a tightly rolled noted wrapped with a piece of twine. The paper had a faint handwriting and dated June 12, 1886.

The Illmans were initially skeptical of their find but after reaching out to the Western Australian Museum and met maritime archaeology assistant curator Ross Anderson, they realized they have a relic in their hands.

Part Of A 69-year Experiment

Anderson said that the bottle was thrown overboard from the German sailing ship Paula over a century ago as the vessel crossed the Indian Ocean.

German ships at the time were conducting a 69-year experiment that involved throwing thousands of bottles into the sea to track the currents of the ocean with the objective of finding faster shipping routes.


Each of the messages that were thrown overboard was marked with the date as well as name and coordinates of the ship, which helped Anderson verify the authenticity of the message.

"Extraordinary finds need extraordinary evidence to support them, so we contacted colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany for help to find more information," Anderson said.

"Incredibly, an archival search in Germany found Paula's original Meteorological Journal and there was an entry for 12 June 1886 made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard."

The handwriting printed on the bottle message, which was signed by the captain, and that in Paula's Meteorological Journal showed that the handwriting is identical in terms of font, slant, cursive style, spacing, capitalization, stroke emphasis, and numbering style.

Comparison of the original message slips that were returned for the year 1886 also showed that the type of message, print layout, and wording used is identical to the one found by the Illmans.

"The appearance of the form from the found bottle is exactly the same as that of the other forms from the year 1886, which were sent back in the following years to the Deutsche Seewarte and are available to us in the original," Germany's Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, which confirmed the authenticity of the message, said.

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