The oldest message in a bottle ever discovered was recently found on a beach in Australia. The bottle was tossed into the sea from a ship on June 12, 1886, making it 131 years old. Within the bottle, which itself is a dark amber color with German writing on the side, was a small rolled note measuring 200mm x 153mm. Some work went into deciphering the German message scrawled on it, revealing certain details about its origins.
As explained in the video below, the bottle was found lying on a beach in Western Australia by resident Tonya Illman on January 21. According to Illman, she picked up the bottle believing at first that it was trash discarded in the sand. Her original intention had been to throw trash away, but the bottle’s beauty compelled her to keep it.
Another person in their group discovered the small note within, which had managed to survive 131 years within the glass bottle. The note was wet, rolled, and tied with a string when first retrieved, according to a website dedicated to the discovery. It would have ruined the note to open it, so they took it home and used a warm oven to dry it.
Details in the text indicate that the bottle and message had been tossed overboard from a German ship to track ocean currents; whomever found the bottle was asked, via the note, to add details describing where the bottle was discovered. Based on coordinates listed in the message, the bottle may have been tossed somewhere west of South America.
The exact boat from which the bottle was tossed isn’t clear due to severely faded text in the message. However, as provided on the website, there appears to be mentions of the name Paula in reference to the boat. As well, the message explains that the boat was built in Lormont, Bordeaux, France in 1859; it was made with iron frames, timber planks, and had a gross sailing barque weight of 320 tons.
Extensive images of the bottle and notes can be found via the link below.