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Bottle's 100-year-old message: Ancient bottle bobbling in Baltic Sea traced

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
The Baltic Sea coast.

A 100-year-old message, actually 101 years to be exact, bobbling about in the Baltic Sea since 1913 has been traced by a German museum to its original writer. Fisherman saw the floating beer bottle and plucked it from the Baltic Sea near Kiel, Germany, last month, according to USA Today on April 9. The glass container and its message are believed to be the oldest message in a bottle ever found.

The brown bottle is marked with “Kiel” – the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein – and inside was a postcard that had lost much of its writing over the decades.

According to NPR, the writer of the postcard was a 20-year-old son of a German baker by the name of Richard Platz. While on “a nature hike along Germany's Baltic Coast in 1913,” Platz “scrawled a note on a postcard, shoved it into a brown beer bottle, corked it and tossed it into the sea," writes NPR. The site also carried a photo of the bottle and extracted postcard.

Much of the original message was lost, though stamps attached to the century old postcard were still attached. The message requested that the finder return the bottle and message to the originator’s home address in Berlin. Investigators used the address as a starting point to trace the sender’s family lineage.

Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum was impressed with the find. “This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact,” Neuhoff said.

Platz’s 62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin, was the recipient of the bottle. Erdmann never knew her grandfather on her mother’s side; Platz died in 1946 at the age of 54. When presented with the bottle, Erdmann was quite moved to hold a piece of a family line she knew little about.

“It was almost unbelievable,” Erdmann said. “That was a pretty moving moment. Tears rolled down my cheeks.”

The bottle and its postcard will be on display at the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Germany for the month of April. Thereafter, researchers will attempt to recover the rest of the postcard's message using document salvage techniques.

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest message in a bottle was discovered in 2012 after spending 97 years and 309 days at sea. This current bottle is expected to eclipse that record, though Guinness officials have yet to officially designate the find.

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