There’s something so magical about finding a message in a bottle when you’re on the beach! To find a letter written by a stranger from the past is like opening a window to their world.
During a vacation to the island of Amrum, Germany, retired post office worker Marianne Winkler and her husband, Horst, found a glass bottle with notes inside. When they opened the bottle and looked inside, they had no idea they would be making history. “It’s always a joy when someone finds a message in a bottle,” she said in an interview. “Where does it come from, who wrote it, and how long has it been traveling on the winds, waves, and currents?”
The note inside was written in Dutch, German, and English, with instructions to fill out information about when and where the bottle was found, and to return the bottle and its contents to marine biologist George Parker Bidder of Plymouth, England’s Marine Biology Association.
Bidder threw the bottle into the sea on November 30th, 1906! It was one of 1,020 bottles tossed into the ocean between 1904 and 1906 to study the strength of ocean currents. Most of these bottles were found months later. Yet, at approximately 108 years old, the bottle that Winkler found broke the Guinness world record for the oldest message in a bottle ever found.
The Marine Biology Association kept their word by giving them the reward that was originally promised in the note: one shilling, along with a thank you letter. Shillings haven’t even been used in the U.K. since 1971, so according to Guy Baker, the association’s current communications director, they had to find one on eBay.
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