Monday, 23 July, 2018

World's oldest message in a bottle found on Australia beach

The world's oldest message in a bottle The world's oldest message in a bottle
Andrew Cummings | 07 March, 2018, 11:47

Amazingly, that bottle was discovered earlier this year on a beach in Australia, making it the oldest message in a bottle ever found - a time capsule, 131 years in the making.

The 132-year-old note was found by Tonya Illman in January.

Perth resident Tonya Illman uncovered the bottle half-buried as she was walking with a friend along the soft sand dunes, thinking it might look good in her bookcase.

They dried the note back home and found it was dated 12 June 1886, and had been thrown from the German ship Paula, as part of an experiment into ocean and shipping routes by the German Naval Observatory.

The German Naval Observatory wanted to understand how currents worked, so they threw thousands of bottles between 1864 and 1933. "The date and the coordinates correspond exactly with those on the bottle message", said Ross Anderson, Assistant Curator Maritime Archaeology at the WA Museum.

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Currently, according to Guinness World Records, the oldest is a 108-year-old bottle, which was found in Germany in 2015.

A message in a bottle found on an Australian beach in January has been identified as having been thrown overboard in 1886 from a ship carrying coal from Cardiff to Makassar in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). "It seemed totally unlikely to us that the note and bottle could have lasted that long and then be so easy to find". Within the bottle, which itself is a dark amber color with German writing on the side, was a small rolled note measuring 200mm x 153mm.

The bottle probably arrived on the western shores of Australia within a year of being thrown overboard, the research report stated.

To confirm the discovery, the Western Australian Museum reached out to the Netherlands and Germany and found the ship captain's journal. "So we took it back [home] and placed in a warm oven for a few minutes to dry it out". According to the museum, he determined it was a mid-to-late 19th-century Dutch gin bottle, and the form inside was written on cheaply-made 19th-century paper. However, as provided on the website, there appears to be mentions of the name Paula in reference to the boat. A bottle belonging to the same ship that cast this one was recovered in 1934. The family has now loaned it to the WA museum, where it will be on display for the next two years.

"This has been the most remarkable event in my life", said Illman. To think that this bottle has not been touched for almost 132 years and is in flawless condition, despite the elements.

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