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  • Writer's pictureImpossible Bottle

Guinness World Records - largest impossible bottle

The glass bottles I use in my work are no larger than those you might find in your kitchen cupboard, so I was amazed to learn recently that there is a Guinness world record for the largest impossible bottle.

Here it is:

Lord Nelson's ship in a giant impossible bottle
Photograph by Mike Peel (

"Nelson's Ship in a Bottle" is a 1:29 scale replica of the British warship, HMS Victory. The bottle measures a staggering 4.7m (15.5ft) in length and 2.8m (9.2ft) in diameter and was produced by British artist Yinka Shonibare.

The artwork was originally commissioned by the Greater London Authority, and was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square from 2010 to 2012.

Following its removal, the bottle was narrowly saved from being purchased by a Korean collector, and now belongs to the National Maritime Museum, thanks to a successful fund-raising campaign which raised over £350,000 to purchase it. The Art Fund explains more about the work:

"Tying together historical and global threads, the work considers the legacy of British colonialism and its expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom of the seas and new trade routes that Nelson'’s victory provided."

Keeping faithful to the spirit of impossible bottles, Shonibare commented:

"It's also a wonderful bit of magic. Everyone asks me how did the ship get into the bottle, but of course I never say."

The fact that the bottle neck is large enough for a human to actually crawl through probably gives the game away.

Helpful as it might be to physically enter an impossible bottle to create it, I think I'll stick with the smaller versions for now...

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