Published: Tue, March 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Oldest Message in Bottle Discovered by Couple on Australian Beach

Oldest Message in Bottle Discovered by Couple on Australian Beach

Having been discovered 132 years after it was tossed into the sea, the Illmans' find is the oldest-known message in a bottle in the world. Illman said of the bottle's discovery: "I picked it up thinking it might look nice on display in my home". Then it probably became buried under damp sand until storm surge or other weather event cleared the layer away.

The previous world record for the oldest message in a bottle was 108 years, four months and 18 days, according to WAM.

Illman explained: "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".

The bottle was found near Wedge Island, 180km north of Perth, as part of a 69-year experiment to better understand global ocean currents to affect more efficient shipping routes.

The note inside, however, disclosed the bottle's intended objective.

Inside an old Dutch gin bottle lodged in sand, they found a note handwritten by the crew of a German ship in 1886. Each bottle would contain a form that listed the date, the ship's coordinates and details about its route.

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

"It said, "will the finder please return this to the nearest German embassy or the authority who threw it overboard", a surprised Kym Illman said. A report from the captain was found on June 12, 1886, about a bottle thrown into the sea.

Ross Anderson, the museum's assistant curator of maritime archaeology, determined the bottle was thrown from a ship named Paula about 590 miles from Australia's coast in the Indian Ocean.

The last time one of these bottles was found was in 1934.

"A handwriting comparison of the bottle message signed by the captain and Paula's meteorological journal, shows the handwriting is identical in terms of cursive style, slant, font, spacing, stroke emphasis, capitalisation and numbering style".

Tonya Illman told the reporters that she was on vacation with Kym Illman, her husband when they've stumbled upon a most curious trinket.

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