Oldest message found in bottle on western Australian coast

Updated 2018-03-08 10:44:01 Xinhua

A 132-year-old message sealed in a bottle was picked up by an Australian on Wedge Island of western Australia, according to local media.

"It just looked like a lovely old bottle, so I picked it up thinking it might look good in my bookcase," the finder Tonya Illman was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

She later found a note inside the bottle that was dated June 12, 1886.

"We took it home and dried it out, and when we opened it we saw it was a printed form, in German, with very faint German handwriting on it," Illman said.

After some online research, the Illman family thought the letter may be a valuable relic and they took it to the Western Australian Museum to be examined by experts.

The bottle was determined to be a mid-to-late 19th-century Dutch gin bottle, and the sheet to be cheaply-made 19th-century paper.

The museum contacted colleagues in Germany and the Netherlands for further research, who confirmed that the message was written 132 years ago by the captain of the German barque Paula.

Cross-checks against Paula's log showed the bottle was tossed overboard so as to better understand global ocean currents.

Thousands of bottles containing similar notes were thrown into the sea by German ships sailing worldwide as a government-organized naval experiment.

Each note contained the date and coordinates of where the bottle was dropped, as well as details of the voyage, and asked finders to write down when and where the bottle had been found and return it to the German side.

Researchers thought the bottle probably arrived on western Australian shores within a year after being dropped and has been well preserved within a layer of damp sand ever since.

The discovery broke the Guinness world record of the oldest-known message in a bottle.

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