A woman in Perth Australia just found a bottle that experts believe is the oldest known to be in existence. According to ABC News Australia, Tonya Illman was strolling on Wedge Island in late January when she spotted what she thought was garbage. Instead, it turned out to be a “lovely old bottle,” that she yanked out of the sand to take home and display on a bookshelf at home.
Her son’s girlfriend saw what she thought was a cigarette inside the bottle and dumped out the contents. What was inside was a damp, rolled up, piece of paper tied with a string. After taking the paper home and drying it out in the oven, they discovered a message written in German. Dated June 12, 1886, the note appeared to have been tossed off of a German boat called the Paula.
Maritime expert Ross Anderson confirmed that the old-time gin bottle had been part of a German Naval Observatory experiment between 1864 and 1933 in which messages in bottles were thrown overboard to study ocean currents. Anderson said “Incredibly, there was an entry for June 12, 1886, made by the captain (of the Paula), recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard.
That would make this the oldest message in a bottle at 132 years old; the previous oldest one, per Guinness Book of World Records, was 108 years old.
Amazingly, the note was preserved despite the bottle having no cork and being partly filled with damp sand. Anderson explains the bottles thick glass and narrow opening left the paper relatively unscathed.
Oh, and the message on the paper…