Angela Erdmann never knew her grandfather. He died in 1946, six years before she was born. But on Tuesday she described the extraordinary moment when she received a message in a bottle 101 years after he had lobbed it into the Baltic Sea.
Thought to be the world's oldest message in a bottle, it was presented to Erdmann by the museum that is now exhibiting it in Germany.
2. Richard Platz threw the bottle in the Baltic Sea while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913. He was 20 years old at the time.
3. Second place is now held by Captain Brown of the UK that found a bottle in 2013 that was 98 years old, having been tossed in 1914.
Comments from Our Readers
I Googled "world record bottle in net" with satisfactory results.
This quiz fell out very easily. Crusty seaman with crusty bottle, what else to google than "message in a bottle"? With song of the same name eliminated, there it was.
I'm interested that this bottle, and that in second place, did not move all that far in the long times between cast-off and retrieval. It brought to mind a contrary instance gleaned in my own family history. I will write to you about it separately.
This is in fact my first quiz, I found out about the quiz from a new colleague of mine, she's been answering your quizzes for a couple years and when she heard I was majoring in Forensics she thought I'd enjoy them.
I've never taken much thought to how many messages could be out there but I have always thought sending a message in a bottle to be quite interesting, and reading the article about this find was really intriguing.
Thank you for sending me an email, I greatly appreciate it and I look forward to the next quiz.
I got such a buzz with myself when I worked out your mystery photo. I thought it might have a cache of old wine that had been found at first. It really was a matter of looking at the photo and having a think about it. I found the answer after a search in Google images and was also pleased to see that it was the Australian ABC News website that provided the information.
Of course I wish Mr. Therber would open the bottle! I actually find it very odd that he won't, especially because the man that wrote the note obviously wrote it so that someone along life's path would find it and open it. I guess Therber has his reasons for not wanting the bottle opened, and maybe they are good ones regardless of the fact that the rest of us really don't get it or understand. Maybe he doesn't want all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with opening it and simply wants to keep things private. Hopefully, Therber will change his mind.
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How Tony Solved the Puzzle
My first impression of this image was of a man holding an old bottle next to some nets. This plus his hat indicated he was probably on a boat and had got the bottle from the sea. I searched google images for "a man with a bottle", "man in blue checkered shirt with a bottle"; and a few others like that but came up with nothing. Then I tried "world records" which brought up a bunch of odd and some weird pictures. I thought I had hit a dead end. Then I looked at the picture from a different perspective. The focus was really on the bottle. So I tried "old bottle from the sea" and there was your picture but in reverse. Clicked on view page which brought me to usatoday.com which had the story.
Recently a 101-year-old message in a bottle was found off the coast of Germany. The bottle was tossed into the Baltic Sea back in 1913 and was discovered this year by fishermen (pictured above) who then donated it to a local museum. Just about every news outlet is saying that it's the oldest message in a bottle ever found. Except that it's
I was going to wait until Friday to report on this, since it would be perfect for our weekly round-up of time capsule news. But I keep seeing this story pop up so frequently (along with the claim that it's the oldest) that I feel like I have to set the record straight.
The actual oldest message in a bottle was found just last year in British Columbia, Canada. The bottle even made it to number 2 on our list of the Top 10 Time Capsules of 2013. The Canadian message in a bottle (pictured below) dates back to 1906, and was found by a man named Steve Thurber when he was out walking along the beach — which means the bottle was 107 years old when it was discovered.
The curious wrinkle in the Canadian bottle story? Thurber doesn't want to open it. This makes independent verification difficult, and will probably lead to the German bottle being officially declared the oldest by the Guinness Book of World Records. Before Thurber's Canadian capsule was found, the oldest known message in a bottle was discovered near Scotland in 2012 and dated back to 1914, having spent nearly 98 years floating at sea.
But just know that there's an older bottle out there. A bottle that, for whatever reason, its finder doesn't want to open. Time capsule nerds sure are a weird bunch, aren't we?
"It was very surprising," Erdmann, 62, said, recalling how she found out about the bottle. "A man stood in front of my door and told me he had post from my grandfather. He then told me that a message in a bottle was found and that the name that was on the card was that of my grandfather."
Her visitor was a genealogical researcher who had managed to track her down in Berlin after the letter was given to the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg.
The brown beer bottle, which had been in the water for 101 years, was found in the catch of Konrad Fischer, a fisherman, who had been out in the Baltic Sea off the northern city of Kiel last month.
Holger von Neuhoff, curator for ocean and science at the museum said this bottled message was the oldest he had come across. "There are documents that have been found without the bottle that are older and are in the museum," he said. "But with the bottle and the document, this is certainly the oldest at the moment. It is in extremely good condition."
Researchers believe Erdmann's grandfather, Richard Platz, threw the bottle in the sea while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913. He was 20 years old at the time.
Much of the postcard was indecipherable, although the address in Berlin on the front of
She said she was moved by the arrival of the message, although she had not known her grandfather because he died, at the age of 54, six years before she was born.
"I knew very little about my grandfather, but I found out that he was a writer who was very open minded, believed in freedom and that everyone should respect each other," she said. "He did a lot for the young and later travelled with his wife and two daughters. It was wonderful because I could see where my roots came from."
Like her grandfather, Erdmann said, she also liked culture and travelling around the world. She described herself as open minded, too. "What he taught his two daughters, my mother taught me and I have then given to my sons," she said.
Despite her joy at receiving the bottled message, she said, however, that she hoped others would not repeat what her grandfather had done and throw bottles with messages into the sea. "Today the sea is so full of so many bottles and rubbish, that more shouldn't be thrown in there," she said.
The message and the bottle will be on display at Hamburg's maritime museum until the beginning of May after which experts will attempt to decipher the rest of the text. It is not clear what will then happen to the bottle, but Erdmann hopes it will stay at the museum.
"We want to make a few photos available to put with the bottle and give it a face, so visitors can see the young man who threw the bottle into the water," she said.
A day after I completed this week's quiz, news of another bottle in my area appeared. The one of the girls that did the bottle were interviewed on local TV. She didn't remember doing it, but said it was really their work on the papers. I thought it interesting that it popped up just after doing a search on messages in a bottle.
Quizmaster Judy Pfaff
N. B. It's amazing how the media is tracking the Forensic Genealogy quizzes.
I bet you if I had not chosen that quiz, the man might not have found the bottle, it would not have appeared in the news.
Do you remember what you were doing twenty-one years ago? A couple of girls in Lansing put a message in a bottle and dropped in the Grand River. And, this past weekend that message was found.
IONIA, Mich. (WILX) - For the past 21 years, a message from two
Lansing girls traveled 35 miles down the Grand River to Ionia.
"It's in pretty good condition really. I mean, it was water stained, it was damp and when I took it out of the bottle. But, it's in really good condition for being 21 years old," said Terry Smith.
Smith found the film case while hunting for mushrooms Monday afternoon.
"You never know what you're going to find in something like that; and, this was quite a surprise," he said. "I couldn't believe it that it lasted this long."
Inside, Smith found three pieces of paper written by 12-year-olds Angela and Leah in 1994.
Two of the papers are covered in drawings of the girls. The third is a letter to whoever would find it.
"I thought it would be quite an experience if I would get a hold of them and let them know that I did find their message," Smith said.
And, less than 24 hours later, we found Leah. "I'm shocked I'm totally shocked," said Leah Sedelmaier. "I was just "was this us?" you know, like I don't know. It's strange."
She doesn't remember putting it all together. "We used to play in this creek that's back here in the neighborhood; and, we used to make rafts and have races with them. I totally believe we would've done something like that," Leah said.
Now, she's reconnected with Angie to try to piece together a 20-year-old memory.
"We went to school together. All the way - grade school through high school," Lisa said. "See if she remembers, because that would be neat."
Smith is actually from Ohio. He's been in Ionia on vacation. He tells us this isn't his first message he found, but it's the first one that's been legible. He plans to put the notes in a photo album as a keepsake.
The obvious answer is: this is the world record for the oldest message in a bottle. The details are at www.theguardian.com/world... this bottle was found in Kiel; its contents led its origin to be traced, and the granddaughter of the man who threw the bottle in the water was located in Berlin. The previous record holder had been thrown in the water in 1914 and was recovered in 2012.
However, after I figured out what this was, a Google search for "world record bottle in ocean" gave what you would expect; but under the headline about the current record holder, the text snippet displayed by Google did not appear in the story! It reads "Apr 11, 2014 - According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest known message in a bottle is from 1914, a year after this one. But according to Matt ...". I figured this was old text that was in a cached copy, and indeed if you pull down the little green arrow next to the URL and select "Cached" you get (at least I got - I'm not sure where the cache is) an alternate version of the story. That contains the following information:
"According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest known message in a bottle is from 1914, a year after this one. But according to Matt Novak at Gizmodo, theres an even earlier bottle that actually takes the prizehaving been written and set afloat in 1906 and found by a man named Steve Thurber last year. Or at least thats the most likely date for the message, Novak explains why theres some difficulty in dating it:
The curious wrinkle in the Canadian bottle story?
Thurber doesn't want to open it. This makes independent verification difficult, and will probably lead to the German bottle being officially declared the oldest by the Guinness Book of World Records. Before Thurber's Canadian capsule was found, the oldest known message in a bottle was discovered near Scotland in 2012 and dated back to 1914, having spent nearly 98 years floating at sea.
According to Therber, you can make out a date by looking through the glass to the message inside, which he says reads September 29, 1906. So while this new Baltic bottle will probably take the prize for oldest verified message in a bottle, Thebers find probably trumps it. "
So this bottle would be older than either of the others, but the fact that there is no mention of it in the actual posted story indicates to me that it is out of the running in terms of being the record holder.
I find it amazing that Guinness has a world record for this sort of thing. And equally amazing that a bottle survived for that long in the ocean, with contents more or less intact. I also thought it was pretty cool that Google maintained an older version of that story that contained additional information; I've seen discrepancies like that before, but never one that was actually useful!
Floating on North Sea currents
FOUND BY: Scottish skipper Andrew Leaper near the Shetland Isles, 2012 SENT FROM: Captain C. Hunter Brown near the Shetland Isles, 1914 TIME AT SEA: 97 years and 309 days
A drift bottle released out to sea on June 10, 1914 by Captain C. Hunter Brown was recovered by UK fisherman Andrew Leaper almost 98 years later, on April 12, 2012.
Brown was a scientist at the Glasgow School of Navigation studying the currents of the North Sea, and the bottle was one of 1,890 released on June 10, 1914.
It is the current Guinness World Record holder for oldest message in a bottle.
The message inside read: "Please state where and when this card was found, and then put it in the nearest Post Office. You will be informed in reply where and when it was set adrift. Our object is to find out the direction of the deep currents of the North Sea."
The bottle was discovered 9.38 nautical miles from the position it was originally deployed
FOUND BY: Matea Medak Rezic in Croatia, 2013 SENT BY: Jonathon (identity unknown) from Nova Scotia, Canada, 1985 TIME AT SEA: 28 years
4. Writing to Zoe
FOUND BY: A Dutch couple in Oosterschelde, Netherlands, 2013 SENT BY: Zoe Averianov, from a ferry travelling from Hull to Belgium, 1990 TIME AT SEA: 23 years
5. A mother to her son
FOUND BY: Karen Liebreich and Sioux Peto on a beach in Kent, 2002 SENT BY: An unnamed French mother from a ferry crossing the English Channel, 2002 TIME AT SEA: A few weeks
6. A grandson's connection
FOUND BY: Geoff Flood at Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand, 2012 SENT BY: Herbert Hillbrick from an unknown location, but thought to be from a ship travelling from England to Australia, 1936 TIME AT SEA: 76 years
7. From five-year-old Frank
FOUND BY: Daniil Korotkikh on the Curonian Spit in Lithuania and Russia, 2011 SENT BY: Frank Uesbeck from a ship travelling to Denmark, 1987 TIME AT SEA: 24 years
8. Across the Atlantic
FOUND BY: Breda O'Sullivan in Dingle, Ireland, 1946 SENT BY: Frank Hayostek, 1945 TIME AT SEA: Eight months
9. Escaping a regime
SENT BY: Dorothy and John Peckham from a cruise to Hawaii, 1979 TIME AT SEA: Four years
10. A British soldier on the way to the front
FOUND BY: Steve Gowan on the Essex coast, England, 1999 SENT BY: Private Thomas Hughes when he tossed it into the English Channel, 1914 TIME AT SEA: 85 years
Personal Story Submitted by Quizmaster Megan Neilsen
Some years back I was researching the Canadian-Australian mail ship "Miowera". I came up with at hit at Google Books books.google.com.au/books?id=. It only gives one of those frustrating snippet entries, but enough for me to work with. It concerns an 1898-1899 bottle journey, the report of which was published in a German hydrographic journal in 1900. Here is my translation of the text:
Submitted by Herr Dietrich Hermsen in Hamburg
w) Set out from the Canadian - Australian R.M.S."Miowera", Capt. Bird, on the journey from Java to Honolulu, by the 4th officer Stanley Bayes Davy, on 27 August 1898 at 3°27´S latitude and 168°54´W longitude, weighed down with sand; found by Martin Nielson on 21 January 1899 on the beach of the island Rongevik (Marshall Islands) at approximately 11°25´N latitude and 167°0´E longitude.
Some research showed me that at that time the Marshall Islands were controlled by Germany, so the appearance of the find in a German journal is not surprising. It also told me that the captain was not Captain Bird, but his replacement Captain Hennessey, that the ship was travelling from Suva to Honolulu (its customary route was Sydney-Wellington-Suva-Honolulu-Vancouver) and that the part of the Marshall Islands near the given co-ordinates is the Rongerik Atoll. But it was the co-ordinates that caught my attention. The bottle had crossed both the equator and the antimeridian! Plus Google maps gives the distance between release and finding as 3,086 Km (= 1,918 miles). Quite a trip by drift in just under five months.
By now you may be wondering why I happened upon this in the first place. Noting that the bottle finder was a Martin Nielson might suggest that he was my search object, given that I am Megan Neilson. Not the case! Neilson/Nielsen/Nielson/Neilsen/Nelson is the difficult name that I research for my husband Peter's family. My maiden name was Davy, and the dispatcher of the bottle was my great uncle, Stanley Bayes Davy, whose life story spans five continents (and proved one of my most difficult research challenges). The fact that his bottle was found by a N??ls?n is just a curious coincidence.