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World’s oldest message in a bottle ever found finally washes up after 108 years

The bottle was sent from England as part of a scientific experiment in 1904

Siobhan Fenton
Friday 21 August 2015 09:35 BST
The couple smashed open the bottle to retrieve the note
The couple smashed open the bottle to retrieve the note (Winkler Family Handout)

The world’s oldest message in a bottle to ever be found is believed to have been recovered - after 108 years at sea.

Marianne Winkler, a retired postal worker, was on holiday when she spotted the unusual bottle floating by the German island of Amrum.

She told local paper the Amrum News the clear glass bottle had a note inside bearing only the words: “Break the bottle.”

“My husband, Horst, carefully tried to get the message out of the bottle, but there was no chance, so we had to do as it said," she said.

When the couple unfurled the note inside, they found a message in English, German and Dutch. It asked the finder to fill in some information on where and when they had found the bottle, before returning it to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. It said whoever did so would be rewarded with one shilling.

The couple pose with the shilling payment which they received (Winkler family handout)

The couple duly did so, and sent the card by post.

Communications director of the Marine Biological Association, Guy Baker, told The Daily Telegraph: “It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope, as you can imagine.”

Once at the association, staff recognised the bottle was one of 1,020 released into the North Sea between 1904 and 1906 as part of a project to test the strength of currents.

Mr Baker told the paper: “It was a time when they were inventing ways to investigate what currents and fish did. Many of the bottles were found by fishermen trawling with deep sea nets. Others washed up on the shore, and some were never recovered.

“Most of the bottles were found within a relatively short time. We’re talking months rather than decades.”

True to their word, the association sent a shilling to the couple as the promised payment.

They are now waiting for the Guinness World Records to confirm if it is the oldest message in a bottle ever to be found. It is believed the current record holder is a bottle found after 99 years.

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