A 101-year-old message in a bottle was found in the Baltic Sea. The brown beer bottle was discovered by a fisherman in March. When the fisherman uncorked the bottle, he was stunned to find a postcard dated 1913.
The postcard and bottle were eventually donated to the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg, Germany. Using the address on the post card, researchers were able to identify the man who threw the bottle into the sea.
Researcher Holger von Neuhoff said he and his colleagues determined the postcard was written by Richard Platz.
In 1913, the 20-year-old man went on a nature hike with friends. Researchers believe he tossed the bottle into the Baltic Sea during the hike. Although Platz died in 1946, a genealogist managed to locate his granddaughter, Angela Erdmann.
Erdmann, age 62, said she never met her grandfather. However, she was able to provide handwriting samples to compare with the 101-year-old message in a bottle. Using the handwriting samples, researchers confirmed the post card was indeed written by Platz.
Although a majority of the message is illegible, experts are attempting to restore the post card. A portion of the message, which remains intact, instructs the finder to return the bottle and card to Platz’s former residence in Berlin.
Erdmann said the discovery inspired her to learn more about her late grandfather. Last week, Erdmann traveled to Hamburg to see and hold the bottle. She said the experience was very emotional:
“It was almost unbelievable… That was a pretty moving moment… Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
As reported by NPR, experts believe the 101-year-old message in a bottle is the oldest ever found. The Guinness Book of World Records currently has a 98-year-old bottle listed as the oldest. The bottle, which was discovered in 2012, contained a message written in 1914.
Von Neuhoff said last month’s discovery is remarkable, as “this is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact.”
The Guardian reports that the bottle and post card will be on public display at Hamburg’s International Maritime Museum until May 1. Following the exhibition, experts will begin restoring the card. They hope the restoration will allow them to reveal the entire message.
Von Neuhoff explained that moisture and time caused the original ink to run. Fortunately the address was intact and allowed researchers to identify the original owner of the 101-year-old message in a bottle.
[Image via NPR]