LaMotte is pulling out all the classics to celebrate its centennial anniversary, including a test kit that accompanied a world-famous explorer.
The kit pictured here was taken on the very first Antarctic expedition, led by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd in 1928.
It is the crown jewel of a large collection of antique kits that LaMotte will exhibit in its headquarters near Chestertown, Md.
Frank LaMotte was producing specialized pH indicators and other analytical reagents in a small laboratory in Baltimore when he was contacted by one of Byrd’s associates. LaMotte’s equipment, the associate told him, was needed for a survey of the South Pole to be conducted by Byrd himself.
Of course, LaMotte was more than honored to proffer his product. You see, Byrd was a Real American Hero. Newsreels of his adventures turned the restless, rugged explorer into something of a matinee idol. He cemented his status as the world’s bravest aviator by being the first to fly over the North Pole, earning him a Medal of Honor in 1926.
His follow-up act: A daring trans-Atlantic flight from New York to France, where he crash-landed on a beach near Normandy. Though he wasn’t the first to achieve this — that would be Charles Lindbergh — he was greeted with a heroic welcome all the same.
LaMotte, like the rest of the world, was eager to see where the legendary explorer would go next. He may have been among the very first common citizens to receive that privileged information when he was charged with supplying equipment that would determine the South Pole’s chemical properties.
When Byrd returned from the polar expedition, LaMotte contacted his organization with a favor: Could they return the test kit? He wanted it for the sake of posterity. It came back to him with a note from Byrd detailing the kit’s journey and its role in the operation.
The kit has been well-preserved over the years. The color standards, sealed in glass, are still good.
Officials say the company’s new museum of artifacts will likely open in October and you’re invited to visit.
Talk about a worthy expedition.