First things first: Hit play.
In 1913, a 20-year-old German hiker put a message in a bottle and then set it adrift in the Baltic Sea. It's now been found not far from where it was first launched.
The brown beer bottle containing a postcard was pulled from the water by a German fisherman just last month; it was then handed over to International Maritime Museum in nearby Hamburg. The message asked the finder to send the postcard back to the author's home address in Berlin. With the name illegible, researchers did the next best thing.
Using the return address on the note, the postcard was traced back to Richard Platz, the son of a baker who lived in Berlin.
Researchers then set to work identifying the author and managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. "It was almost unbelievable," Erdmann told the German news agency DPA.
Erdmann had never met her grandfather, but found handwriting samples to make the connection complete. Unfortunately, the rest of the message is illegible, but after the note goes down from its display at the museum, work will begin on restoring the rest of the note.
This isn't the first message in a bottle to make waves recently. Just a year-and-a-half ago, a Scottish fisherman near the Shetland Islands pulled a bottle from the North Sea. The message had been adrift since 1914, apparently the era during which communicative bottle-tossing reached its cultural zenith. Was it a missive from a heartbroken Scotsman or a jeremiad from a wrongly imprisoned convict?
No. It was a nerd note.
"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 fellow nerds at the Guinness Book of World Records certified it as the oldest recovered message in a bottle on record. But thanks to Richard Platz and one perceptive German fisherman, there is a new record holder.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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