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Century-old message in a bottle reaches its destination

LONDON -- A century-old message in a bottle, possibly the oldest ever found, has finally reached its destination.

Tossed into the North Sea sometime between 1904 and 1906, the bottle washed up on the beach on the German island of Amrum, and was found by a couple in April. Inside they found a postcard asking that it be sent to the Marine Biological Association of the U.K. - which they did.

"We were very excited," Guy Baker, a spokesman for the group, said Friday. "We certainly weren't expecting to receive any more of the postcards."

Baker said the bottle was one of some 1,000 released into the North Sea by researcher George Parker Bidder, who later became the association's president. The bottles were weighed down to float just above the sea bed, and used as part of a study into the movement of sea currents.

Inside each bottle was a postcard promising a "one shilling reward" to anyone who returned it to the association, along with information about where and when they found the bottle. Most bottles were trawled up by fishermen and returned decades ago, Baker said.

Meanwhile, an old shilling has been sent to the couple who found the bottle.

Marianne Winkler, who found the bottle with her husband, said the message "Break the bottle" was written on a piece of paper inside the bottle, the Telegraph reported.

"My husband, Horst, carefully tried to get the message out of the bottle, but there was no chance, so we had to do as it said," Winkler said.

The association is now looking into having the Guinness Book of Records recognize the message in a bottle as the oldest ever found. The current record-holder, released in 1914 for a scientific experiment, was found 99 years later.

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