Join 3,434 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Please state where and when this card was found and then put it in the nearest Post Office."
October 15, 2012 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Oldest message in a bottle found. The bottle was released as part of a research project tracking deep ocean currents. (Via socimages, via boingboing.)
posted by NoraReed (25 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England—thinking some bottles might contain secret messages sent home by British spies or fleets—appointed an "Uncorker of Ocean Bottles," making it a capital crime for anyone else to open one.

Helloooo new business card
posted by theodolite at 9:23 AM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Isn't the japanese one mentioned in the article older?
posted by empath at 9:26 AM on October 15, 2012


"Oldest" meaning longest recorded time from drop to recovery.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on October 15, 2012


Walked out this morning
Don't believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
A hundred billion castaways
Looking for a home
posted by symbioid at 9:36 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


doomed World War I soldiers used bottles to send last messages to loved ones

Erm, what? Did they mean sailors?
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:37 AM on October 15, 2012


And in 1915, a passenger on the torpedoed Lusitania tossed a poignant note that read, according to one report, "Still on deck with a few people. The last boats have left. We are sinking fast. Some men near me are praying with a priest. The end is near. Maybe this note will—"

Here the note trails off as the passenger was killed in such a way as to also stuff the note into the bottle and seal it up.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


... On second thought I guess they mean 'people on sinking warships', which could indeed include troop transports.

I was having a hard time seeing how someone in the trenches would benefit from a message in a bottle. I was having an equally hard time seeing an army literally push the opposition into the sea.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2012


You've never seen a soldier on a boat?
posted by DU at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've never seen a soldier on a boat?

Right, sure, and none of those have their hands free to write any messages. Crossing the Atlantic and getting torpedoed, now that makes more sense I suppose. I guess I can see the sailors actually outputting fewer messages in bottles because they'd be doing stuff if the ship was sinking whereas soldiers in transit would be mostly sitting around thinking "ohfuckohfuckohfuck" or so.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:43 AM on October 15, 2012


Isn't the japanese one mentioned in the article older?

"Oldest" meaning longest recorded time from drop to recovery.

From Wikipedia:

"In 1784, Chunosuke Matsuyama, a Japanese seaman and 43 of his companions began a voyage to find buried treasure on a Pacific island. During the voyage, a storm blew the group's ship onto a coral reef and forced the sailors to seek refuge on a nearby island. However, the crew was unable to find fresh water or sufficient food on the island. With a limited food supply, consisting mostly of crabs and coconuts, the sailors began to die from dehydration and starvation. Before his own death, Matsuyama carved a message telling the story of his group's shipwreck into thin pieces of wood from a coconut tree, which he inserted into a bottle and threw into the ocean. Approximately 151 years later, in 1935, a Japanese seaweed collector found the bottle. The bottle had washed ashore in the village of Hiraturemura, where Matsuyama was born."

I'm also confused about this. It seems the Chunosuke bottle was found about 151 years after. Is the problem with calling it a record that they don't know exactly when it was released?
posted by Demogorgon at 9:45 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Oldest" meaning longest recorded time from drop to recovery.

From 18th century to 1935? That's a minimum of 135 years.
posted by empath at 9:46 AM on October 15, 2012


Man, I mailed that shit back to Theophrastus years ago and still haven't gotten a reply.
posted by orme at 9:52 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think the article claims that the 98 year old bottle was the oldest. Here's the headline: "Oldest Message in Bottle: Behind History's Famous Floating Notes"

Note the plural on "notes".

Someone found an old bottle. That prompted the NatGeo to go looking for other old bottle finds. Then they wrote a feature about that, with the recent one as a lead-in.
posted by DU at 9:58 AM on October 15, 2012


The message in a bottle found by Andrew Leaper—certified by Guinness World Records on August 30 as the oldest ever recovered—belonged to a century-old science experiment.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on October 15, 2012


Yeah, I don't get it. Cool discovery though, oldest or not.
posted by Demogorgon at 10:01 AM on October 15, 2012


Ah, if you read the article's comments someone points out why the Matsuyama one doesn't hold the record:

"Matsuyama's bottle wasn't a drift bottle. His floated on the surface. A drift bottle a specific type of message in a bottle - one that is deployed at sea, specially weighted to sink to a specific depth and be carried along the seabed and is used for scientific research - ie, ocean currents - rather than an SOS. This is a world record for a specific type of message in a bottle."
posted by Demogorgon at 10:04 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Crusoe-- note to self: tell Friday to try finding a bottle.

Crusoe-- note to self: figure out where to put the stamp.
posted by mule98J at 10:12 AM on October 15, 2012


Here the note trails off as the passenger was killed in such a way as to also stuff the note into the bottle and seal it up.

ARTHUR: What?
MAYNARD: '... the Castle of uuggggggh'.
BEDEVERE: What is that?
MAYNARD: He must have died while carving it.
LAUNCELOT: Oh, come on!
MAYNARD: Well, that's what it says.
ARTHUR: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn't bother to carve 'aaggggh'. He'd
just say it!
MAYNARD: Well, that's what's carved in the rock!
GALAHAD: Perhaps he was dictating.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is a world record for a specific type of message in a bottle.

How fine do they dice this? I'm pretty sure I could hold the record for the oldest recovered drift bottle, blue tinted glass, white gum stopper, sealed with paraffin, dayglow yellow handwritten in green ink response card bottle before the day was up. I'm absolutely sure no one in their right mind would care.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2012


Does the Voyager probe count as a bottle?
posted by not_on_display at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2012


The voyager probe hasn't been found yet. That we know of.
posted by DU at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2012


A delightful episode of Hindsight from Radio National about this sort of thing
posted by jmccw at 12:36 PM on October 15, 2012


In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England—thinking some bottles might contain secret messages sent home by British spies or fleets—appointed an "Uncorker of Ocean Bottles," making it a capital crime for anyone else to open one.

Just in case anyone thought this was actually true .. it comes from Victor Hugo's novel The Man Who Laughs (1869), in which one of the characters applies for a job as Jetsam Officer in the Sea Prize Department of the Admiralty:
"In what does the appointment consist?"

"Madam, in 1598 a tarred bottle, picked up by a man, conger-fishing on the strand of Epidium Promontorium, was brought to Queen Elizabeth; and a parchment drawn out of it gave information to England that Holland had taken, without saying anything about it, an unknown country, Nova Zembla; that the capture had taken place in June, 1596; that in that country people were eaten by bears; and that the manner of passing the winter was described on a paper enclosed in a musket-case hanging in the chimney of the wooden house built in the island, and left by the Dutchmen, who were all dead: and that the chimney was built of a barrel with the end knocked out, sunk into the roof."

"I don't understand much of thy rigmarole."

"Be it so. Elizabeth understood. A country the more for Holland was a country the less for England. The bottle which had given the information was held to be of importance; and thenceforward an order was issued that anybody who should find a sealed bottle on the sea-shore should take it to the Lord High Admiral of England, under pain of the gallows. The admiral entrusts the opening of such bottles to an officer, who presents the contents to the queen, if there be reason for so doing."

"Are many such bottles brought to the Admiralty?"

"But few. But it's all the same. The appointment exists. There is for the office a room and lodgings at the Admiralty."

"And for that way of doing nothing, how is one paid?"

"One hundred guineas a year."
There is a tiny core of truth to this, in that under English law, flotsam and jetsam (including messages in bottles thrown overboard) are droits of admiralty belonging to the crown. The rest is Hugo's invention, although the Wikipedia entry on Message in a bottle repeats it as fact.
posted by verstegan at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


I was going to say that now, with that Nat Geo article, Wikipedia has a source for that bit of apocrypha. But looking at Wikipedia I see they already "sourced" the fact from someone else.
posted by miyabo at 4:40 PM on October 15, 2012


Sting unavailable for comment.
posted by The Deej at 8:03 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older "The History of Food & Drink in Portland, Oregon" ...  |  Corb Lund is a classically tra... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments