World’s oldest message in a bottle found in Dutch jenever bottle

World’s oldest message in a bottle found in Dutch jenever bottle

During a walk along the beach on the west coast of Australia, a couple stumbled upon a bottle from the distiller of Dutch jenever Daniel Visser & Zonen from Schiedam. The bottle contained a rolled up message, which has now been confirmed to be the oldest message in a bottle found to date.

German drift bottle experiment

The message in the bottle, found just north of Wedge Island, was written in German and dates back to June 12, 1886. According to researchers, the bottle was thrown from the German ship, Paula, around 950 kilometres from the west coast of Australia.

The German ship, Paula, was sailing from Cardiff, Wales to Makassar, Indonesia when the bottle was thrown into the sea. In that time, 1864 - 1933, German ships threw thousands of bottles into the ocean as part of a drift bottle experiment.

The bottles used in the German experiment contained messages with the date of the bottle’s launch, the name of the ship, its exact coordinates at the time, home port and travel route, as well as a request that the finder return the bottle to the German Naval Observatory or a German Consulate. The bottle experiment was used to research ocean currents in order to find quicker shipping routes.

Oldest bottled message in the world

Of the thousands of bottles thrown overboard, 662 have been found, with the latest bringing the total up to 663. Before number 663 washed up, the last German message in a bottle was found in 1934 in Denmark and was just over 108 years old.

With the newest message-in-a-bottle find, comes a new world record. However, before this could be confirmed, there had to be substantial evidence to verify it. Scientists compared the handwriting on the note to that of the ships logs to find that it was identical. The paper upon which the note was written, was also examined for authenticity.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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