On Aussie Beach, the World's Oldest Message in a Bottle

On Aussie Beach, the World's Oldest Message in a Bottle

On Aussie Beach, the World's Oldest Message in a Bottle

A Perth family has made an extraordinary historical discovery after becoming bogged on a West Australian beach.

"It just looked like a lovely old bottle, so I picked it up thinking it might look good in my bookcase", she said.

They took the bottle to the Western Australian Museum, where Ross Anderson - assistant curator of maritime archaeology - determined that it was a mid-to-late 19th-century Dutch gin bottle, and that the note inside had been scribbled on cheaply-made, 19th-century paper.

Experts have confirmed it is an authentic message from a German ship.

From 1864 until 1933, thousands of bottles were thrown into the sea from German ships, each containing a form on which the captain wrote the date it was jettisoned, the co-ordinates, the name of the ship, its home port and travel route.

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At the time, German ships were conducting a 69-year experiment that involved throwing thousands of bottles into the sea to track ocean currents.

'The note was damp, rolled tightly and wrapped with string, ' she said. The message urged the reader, who will find the bottle, to contact the German consulate, "Tonya Kym Illman's wife describes to the BBC".

Inside, she found a roll of paper printed in German and dated to 12 June 1886, which was authenticated by the Western Australian Museum.

The previous record holder was a bottle found 108 years after it had been dropped into the ocean.

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The message inside was a postcard asking the finder to send the card back to the Marine Biological Association, stating where it was found, in return for a one shilling reward. The last message bottle was found in Denmark in 1934.

The colleagues compared handwriting samples from the form and the captain's entries in Paula's meteorological journal.

He added: "Extraordinary finds need extraordinary evidence to support them".

"My friend Grace Ricciardo and I were walking across the dunes when I saw something sticking out of the sand so I went to take a closer look", Mrs Illman said.

The bottle will be on display as the WA Maritime Museum for the next two years. To think that this bottle has not been touched for almost 132 years and is in ideal condition, despite the elements, beggars belief.

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