World's oldest known message in a bottle found on Australian beach

From 1864 until 1933 thousands of bottles were thrown into the sea from German ships logging the date it was dropped co-ordinates the name of the ship its home port and travel route

It was tossed overboard almost 600 miles off the Australian coast, the Western Australian Museum said, at a time when German ships were conducting an experiment that involved throwing thousands of bottles into the ocean over 69 years in order to track the sea's currents.

Anderson also contacted colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany to verify the bottle's authenticity, comparing the handwriting samples from the form with the captain's entries in Paula's meteorically journal.

The Illman family were driving through a beach north of Wedge Island on 21 January when the vehicle became bogged down in the sand, and Mrs Illman and her friend chose to go for a walk.

Instead, it turned out to be what she called a "lovely old bottle", and she yanked it out of the sand to bring home to display on her bookcase.

Kym and Tonya Illman discovered the 19th century relic when their son's vehicle got stuck in sand and the bottle washed up next to the woman's feet.

'The note was damp, rolled tightly and wrapped with string, ' she said.

The woman made a decision to dry the paper by placing it in the oven and, when it dried out, she could see some German writing on it.

Her husband, Kym Illman, told Guardian Australia she initially thought it was rubbish but picked it up because it had distinct, raised lettering and would be at home on their bookshelf.

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According to the museum, thousands of bottles were thrown into the world's oceans from German ships between 1864 and 1933.

The message - which included the ship's coordinates, date and name - asked for the finder to report back where and when the bottle was found, along with a description of the bottle's condition, and to return it to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg or the nearest German consulate. But more evidence was needed. "We wanted to know if what we had found was historically significant or a very inventive hoax".

Researchers believe the bottle spent more than a century buried under the Australian sand.

It found the paper and colouration were consistent with cheaply-made 19th century paper, and the Paula did indeed sail from Cardiff to Makassar in 1886; however, that wasn't enough to confirm the historic find.

Previously, the record for oldest message in a bottle belonged to a note that was 108 years old.

The Western Australian Museum assistant curator of maritime archaeology Ross Anderson was tasked with investigating the find.

Only 662 message slips were returned and none of the bottles.

Experts have confirmed it is an authentic message from a German ship. While taking a brisk walk on Wedge Island, located in Western Australia, the couple saw a bottle lying in one of the dunes. Amazingly, the note was preserved despite the bottle having no cork and being partly filled with damp sand.

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