Card of the Day - 2024-07-09

Cote D`Or Antarctic
Cote D`Or [trade : chocolate : O/S - Belgium] "Antarctic" (1960) 69/164

From extremes of heat to extremes of cold, and here we have the Antarctic, where, on July the 21st, 1983, the temperature in Vostok was -89.2 degrees C (or -128.6 degrees F). 

The coldest ever recorded in the British Isles was -27.2 degrees, and it happened twice, both in Scotland, the first time was at Braemar on the 10th of January 1982, and the second at a weather station site called Altnaharra No.2, on the 30th of December 1995. 

The issuer of this card will be instantly familiar to chocolate connoisseurs. However, the name can be confusing - many people think it is named after the area of that name in North Eastern France, or in some way related to the Gold Coast in Africa. You are getting much warmer with that one, as though it is actually a Belgian company, founded in 1883, the chocolate was named after the African region, now Ghana, where the cacao beans came from. There is also a little clue on the packets, and this card, look for the elephant. 

Now the founder Charles Neuhaus sold the firm to the Buiswal-Leclef family only six years after he started it, and they were merged with Michiels in 1906, at which time the company was renamed to "Alimenta". That name appears on our card, right at the bottom, but so does Cote D`Or, which was kept because it was already a famous brand. .

Our card dates from a fair while after that though, and uses photographs from the second Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1957 to 1959. The leader was Gaston de Gerlache, or to be more correct, Baron Gaston de Gerlache de Gomery, and he was indeed following in his father`s footsteps, for Adrien de Gerlache had been the leader of the first Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1899.  

During the expedition, they set up the King Baudouin Base, one of many areas which were designed to house scientists and researchers as they explored this desolate region. The American one was right at the South Pole, and named, after two explorers, Amundsen-Scott. The Russian base, coincidentally for the subject of today, was called the Vostok Base, and it was right in the middle of the East Antarctic icecap. I imagine this could have been where that lowest temperature was taken.  However the Belgian one was rather precariously sited on a floating ice shelf just off the coast by Breid Bay, and it needed reconstructing as early as 1964. By early 1957 it had been decided to abandon it, and build another, 200 km inland, in Queen Maud Land, which they named Princess Elisabeth Station. 

In December 1958, Gaston de Gerlache and his team were involved in a flying accident, 250 km from the base. They were rescued, five days later, by a Russian pilot. 

There is an album for this set, but it is hard to spot because it looks very much like a book. However if you turn to the inside you can see that it uses these cards for the illustrations. It is quite sought after, by card collectors and polar expedition ones.