On a nature hike along Germany’s Baltic Coast in 1913, 20-year-old Richard Platz scrawled a note on a postcard, shoved it into a brown beer bottle, corked it and tossed it into the sea.
Where it traveled, no one knows for sure, but it was pulled out of the Baltic Sea by a fisherman last month not far from where Platz first pitched it.
It’s thought to be the world’s oldest message in a bottle.
The French news agency Agence France-Presse writes:
“A fisherman pulled the beer bottle with the scribbled message out of the Baltic off the northern city of Kiel last month, said Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg.
” ‘This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact,’ he said.”
Platz was identified as the author of the note, and a Berlin-based genealogical researcher then located 62-year-old Angela Erdmann, his granddaughter. Erdmann says she never met Platz, who was her mother’s father. He died in 1946 at age 54.
Erdmann visited the museum last week and was able to hold the bottle. “That was a pretty moving moment,” she tells German news agency DPA. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
According to AFP:
“Von Neuhoff said a handwriting comparison with letters penned by Platz later in life confirmed that he was ‘without a doubt’ the author.
“Erdmann told local newspapers that the surprise discovery had inspired her to look through family scrapbooks to learn more about her grandfather, a Social Democrat who liked to read.
“Much of the ink on the postcard had been rendered illegible with time and dampness, Von Neuhoff said.
“The discovery will be on display at the museum until 1 May, after which experts will set to work trying to decipher the rest of the message.
“Guinness World Records previously identified the oldest message in a bottle as dating from 1914. It spent nearly 98 years at sea before being fished from the water.”