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CRANE, MARGARET, INVENTOR—THE FIRST HOME PREGNANCY TEST.
Prototype test kit fashioned from transparent plastic paperclip container, 2.9 x 1.7 x 1.7 inches, fitted with clear mylar rack holding 2.35 inch glass and black rubber dropper, and 1.5 inch empty glass test vial with black plastic cap, bottom of holder fitted with reflective mylar set at angle at bottom of container. "Predictor" written in red pen on lid of container.
WITH: First Predictor consumer product, Chefaro Labs, Canada, 1971. Complete test kit of transparent plastic 3.6 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches, fitted with integral plastic rack holding 3 inch plastic and blue rubber dropper and 1.8 inch glass test vial with blue plastic lid containing agglutination inhibition test materials to detect pregnancy hormone (HCG), "Lot #C1071138 Predictor ®. Chefaro labs. Made in U.S.A" printed to tube in blue, bottom of test kit fitted with mirror set at angle, "Predictor" printed in blue to lid of kit. Housed in original manufacturer's box, complete with printed instruction sheet in French & English.
WITH: Press & advertising archive, consisting of several sheets of reproduced press clippings in French & English (primarily Canadian); 7.5 x 5.5 inch glossy black & white advertising photograph of consumer test kit; unfolded instruction sheet in French & English; 3 bifolium advertising sheets in French (1) & English (2), plus 2 more smaller advertising samples; 1 Original pharmacy sign in French & English advertising availability of test kits; 1 autograph letter signed to Chefara labs dated 1971, suggesting that they use a woman's voice in their commercials rather than a man's.
The home pregnancy test was one of the most revolutionary and life-changing products of the 20th century, and its invention was a key moment in the history of women's liberation. Prior to its invention, women had to go to their doctor's office and wait weeks to get their results, with all control over the process out of their hands. This test allowed women to find out in the privacy of their own homes in as little as 2 hours. The product was marketed in Canada well before being introduced to the US market. The inventor, Margaret Crane, explains the process:
"In 1967, I was hired by Organon Pharmaceuticals in West Orange NJ, to work as a freelance graphic designer on a new line of cosmetics. On a visit to the laboratory with the cosmetic work, I noticed multiple lines of test tubes suspended over a mirrored surface. I was told that they were pregnancy tests... Each test tube contained reagents which when combined with a pregnant women's urine, would display a red ring at the base of the test tube, as reflected in the mirror. I thought how simple that was. A woman should be able to do that herself... At home in New York, I made a few unsuccessful attempts to design a device. Then one day, I was absentmindedly looking at a little plastic box on my desk. I used it to hold paperclips. It was perfect. It was the right size to hold the components needed for the test. For a mirror, I cut a piece of mylar to fit at an angle at the base. Then a shelf with holes to hold the tube and dropper. The cap could be used to collect urine. I approached the company with the prototype but was told they would never do a consumer test because they would lose their "doctor" business, which was considerable. But I was absolutely certain this product would be very useful. That a woman should have the right to be the first to know if she was pregnant, and not have to wait weeks for an answer. Months later, the Organon Vice President made a trip to AZKO, Organon's parent company in the Netherlands. He brought up the idea of a consumer test, and came back with a small budget to consider the marketing possibilities ... Organon managers and lab personal were brought into the project and it sparked a controversy. Some were fearful that going directly to the public would alienate the commercial labs and even threaten their other products. Some objected strongly on moral grounds; that women had no right to be testing themselves for pregnancy; that it was linked to abortion and would bring the wrath of church hierarchies upon them. Over considerable objections, plans went ahead for the product study. When sales projections began to look good, the marketing people warmed up to the idea... In 1969, Organon applied for patents based on my design. The Product Patent #3,579,306 and Design Patent #215,774 were issued to me (Margaret M Crane) in 1971. I assigned my rights to Organon, and therefore was not compensated. Over the next few years, the AKZO test, based on the US patent, became very quickly a successful worldwide product."
Margaret "Meg" Crane is a graphic designer and illustrator. She founded Ponzi & Weill Inc advertising & design company in 1968 with her late husband Ira Sturtevant. Prior to that she was Creative Director at Intec Laboratories (Organon Pharmaceuticals). She holds two US patents for her invention of the first home pregnancy diagnostic test.
"A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE THE FIRST TO KNOW IF SHE WAS PREGNANT...."