In 1913, a man named Richard Platz threw a bottle into the sea carrying a message that would later be found and presented to his granddaughter last Tuesday … 101 years later.
Angela Erdmann, 62, never met her grandfather, Platz, as he died before she was born. But receiving the bottle on Tuesday was an extraordinary moment for her.
The bottle was found last month by fisherman Konrad Fischer off the coast of Germany. Though the message inside the bottle was indecipherable, the name and address of the sender, Platz, was still legible. The letter inside, which is now thought to be the world’s oldest message in a bottle, was written by Platz when he was only 20 years old. It is currently on display at a museum in Germany.
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“It was very surprising,” Erdmann told The Guardian. “A man stood in front of my door and told me he had a 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.”
The brown beer bottle used by Platz to house the letter had been floating in the ocean for 101 years. Researchers believe Platz, threw the bottled message into the sea while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913.
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“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,” said Erdmann. “It was wonderful because I could see where my roots came form.”
Although Erdmann is delighted to receive the ancient message in a bottle from her late grandfather, she advises others not to throw bottled messages in to the sea. “Today the sea is so full of so many bottles and rubbish, that more shouldn’t be thrown in there,” she said.