From 1904-1906, George Parker Bidder of the Marine Biological Association of the U.K. (MBA) placed over 1,000 postcards addressed to the institution in bottles and proceeded to release them into the North Sea as part of an experiment to study deep sea currents. Each card offered a reward of one shilling to anyone who found a bottle and sent it back with information.
However one of these bottles was found by and returned to the institution—over a century later—by Marianne Winkler who found one of the 1,020 bottles on an island off Germany’s North Sea coast.
Winkler told Amrun News:
It’s always a joy finding a message-in-a-bottle on the beach. Where does it come from, who wrote it and how long has it been traveling with the wind, waves and currents?
However, Winkler was unaware of how old the bottle was. She and her husband followed the note’s instructions, smashed the bottle and mailed the card back to the MBA. The communication director Guy Baker told another news outlet, “It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope.”
This bottle could have potentially broken a record as the oldest message-in-a-bottle, however the MBA are waiting for this to be confirmed.
So what happened to the other bottles? Well, nearly 55 percent were caught in fishing nets and returned. On the other hand, the bottles that did wash ashore usually ended up in England. However, Winkler’s bottle ended up in a similar location to lighter bottles that were released in the area.
If you were wondering about the reward, the MBA stayed true to their word and sent Winkler an old English shilling.