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Bottle That Washed Up in Germany Shatters Guinness World Record for the World's Oldest Message in a Bottle

"Where does it come from, who wrote it and how long has it been traveling on the winds, waves and currents?"

Image via Shutterstock

The message in a bottle that a woman discovered last April has now been confirmed to be the oldest bottle message ever found, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The world record-breaking bottle was discovered by Marianne Winkler during a vacation spent at the German Amrum Island on April 15, 2015. When Winkler found it, she could see inside it a message saying "break the bottle," accord to the Guardian. Although she and her husband did their best to avoid breaking the bottle while retrieving its contents, they ultimately were forced to break the bottle to uncover the documents.

"It’s always a joy when someone finds a message in a bottle," Winkler, a retired German post office worker, told Amrum News. "Where does it come from, who wrote it, and how long has it been traveling on the winds, waves and currents?"

Inside, the Winklers found a postcard written in English, German and Dutch that asked the recipient to return the bottle to the Marine Biological Association based in Plymouth, Devon. If the bottle finders returned the bottle there, the message writer promised that a shilling would be awarded to them, the Guardian noted.

The association was startled when it received the bottle and its contents and immediately performed some research to discover its story. As it turns out, the bottle was one of 1,020 that were released into the into the North Sea by George Parker Bidder, a former president of the association, between 1904 and 1906, according to the Telegraph. Bidder, who died at age 91 in 1954, was using the bottles in an experiment to prove that the deep sea current in the North Sea flowed from east to west.

"It was a time when they were inventing ways to investigate what currents and fish did," said Guy Baker, a communications officer at the association, according to the Guardian. "Many of the bottles were found by fishermen trawling with deep sea nets. Others washed up on the shore, and some were never recovered. ... Most of the bottles were found within a relatively short time. We’re talking months rather than decades."

The bottle that Winkler discovered spent 108 years and 138 days at sea after Bidder sent it afloat, according to the Guinness World Record. The previous record had been held by a bottle that was found in Shetland in 2013 that had been out at sea for 99 years and 43 days.

Although the promised reward of a shilling is outdated, as shillings have not been in use in Britain for more than 20 years, the association still wanted to honor Winkler's reward.

"We found an old shilling, I think we got it on eBay. We sent it to her with a letter saying thank you," Baker said, according to the Guardian.

(H/T: Huffington Post)

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

Front-page image via Shutterstock

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