Oldest Message in a Bottle

A couple of years ago, I told you about a man who casts bottled messages off the coast of Canada, just to see who might write back.

If that story set your imagination bobbing dreamily out onto the open sea, then listen to this:

Last month, fishermen in the Baltic Sea hauled in their catch and discovered what may be the oldest message in a bottle ever recorded.


Photo courtesy of International Maritime Museum Hamburg via NPR

The message within was scrawled on a postcard dated May 17, 1913, and signed by a man named Richard Platz. His note asked the bottle’s recipient to forward his message to his own address in Berlin, reported the German online news source The Local.

Sounds like he just wanted to see if it might ever make its way back to him, don’t you think?

Instead of reaching Platz, though, the bottle ended up at the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg. Researchers managed to track down Platz’s granddaughter, 62-year-old Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. Erdmann said she never knew her mother’s father, who reportedly died in 1946 when he was 54 years old, but upon hearing the news of his bottled message, she visited the museum to see it for herself.

“That was a pretty moving moment,” she told German news agency DPA. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”

  1. As a child who lived on the water in Norfolk VA, I was entranced by the idea of a message in a bottle and sent many on their way. I imagined what far off places it would travel and dreamed of going there myself someday.

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