World's Oldest Message in a Bottle Washes Up in Germany

Published On 08/24/2015 Published On 08/24/2015

In April, a retired post office employee named Marianne Winkler was on vacation with her husband on the island of Amrum in the German North Sea when she found a 108-year-old message in a bottle washed up on the beach. Very, very casual.

According to The Telegraph, the bottle had been thrown into the sea by British scientists, and it's believed to be the oldest message in a bottle ever. 

Because real life is 100% just a '90s Nicholas Sparks movie, the piece of paper inside the bottle had the words “Break the bottle" on it. Winkler says her husband tried to carefully remove the paper from the bottle, but "there was no chance, so we had to do as it said.” If there's one thing we know to be true, it's that the human race stands no chance against the powerful entity that is an old bottle filled with a message from dead scientists.

After breaking the bottle open, Winkler and her husband found a dateless postcard that offered a reward of one shilling to whomever returned it. Just so everyone is clear, one shilling is equal to five pennies, which is an indisputably generous reward.

The postcard also featured a message (in English, German, and Dutch), asking the bottle's finder to fill out information on where it was found, and to return it to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. The couple happily obliged, and, upon receiving the bottle, The Police's "Message in a Bottle," mysteriously began playing at the Marine Biological Association! What! There wasn't even an iPhone in sight! This part may not be entirely accurate.

The bottle was found to be one of 1,020 thrown into the North Sea by the association's former president, George Parker Bidder, between 1904 and 1906. Bidder was apparently trying to study the deep sea currents. But none of that matters, because the most important part of this story is that the couple was actually rewarded their shilling. They also may get into the Guinness Book of World Records, but, again, the single shilling is the only thing that matters here.

Lucy Meilus is a staff writer for Thrillist and will remain unfulfilled in life until she finds a message in a bottle. Follow her on Twitter at @Lucymeilus and send news tips to



Learn More