The Tobé Award

In 1947, the same year that G. Fox & Co. celebrated its centennial, Beatrice Fox Auerbach was honored with one of retail’s most prestigious awards. At the 13th Annual Tobé Bosses Dinner, the fifth annual Tobé Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Retailing was bestowed upon Mrs. Auerbach “for demonstrating that a department store can and must exert a positive social force in its community.”

Beatrice Fox Auerbach, in her acceptance speech, said in part, “To be singled out by one whom I have so long esteemed as a woman in business, and so deeply regarded as a friend, as worthy to receive an award that bears her name is one of those rare experience in a lifetime that one cherishes and remembers. I accept it proudly, aware of the high standards by which its recipients are chosen. Yet my pride is tempered with humility. Whatever I may have done to be named for this distinction is not mine alone. It is but part of a heritage from the past, a partnership with the present, and a trusteeship for the future.” (More of the speech appears at the end of the post.)

The Tobé Award was considered to be the highest honor one could achieve in the field of retail and had previously been bestowed upon such prestigious individuals as Walter Hoving and Dorothy Shaver of Lord and Taylor, Adam L. Gimbel of Saks Fifth Avenue, H. Stanley Marcus of Neiman-Marcus, and Walter H. Rich of Rich’s in Atlanta. For Beatrice Fox Auerbach to be awarded such a distinction reflects greatly upon her importance in the world of retailing during the better part of the 20th century.

Letter to Mrs. Auerbach from CHSThe image to the left depicts the letter from then-President of the Connecticut Historical Society, Edgar Waterman, who offers his own message of congratulations on behalf of the Society. This letter was one among dozens from institutions, businesses, and personal friends of Mrs. Auerbach that were included in the book, “A Tribute to Beatrice Fox Auerbach, Tobé Award Winner for 1947.” Telegram messages also fill the pages as do clippings of newspaper articles concerning the awards ceremony.

For those of you who are interested, here is a little more from Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s acceptance speech:

“The year 1947, as Tobé has explained so generously, meant much to me in marking the 100th anniversary of G. Fox & Company. The store was founded by my grandfather and for 58 years directed by my father. From them, and from the tradition of New England, I – as the third generation – learned the values of steadfast principles in life and in work. This is my heritage.

“I know that no one’s work is done alone. It is extended on every front by the creative talents and devoted efforts of one’s associates -from the highest to the humblest. It is they who carry on the activities of an institution day by day and their energies, fused with one’s own, forge and institutional character as distinctive as human character. This is my partnership.

“Coming from a part of America that is no longer young, I regard my own direction of G. Fox & Company was but a chapter in its history, and the store itself as a public servant of a community…the people of Connecticut. This is my trusteeship.”

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2 thoughts on “The Tobé Award

  1. Thanks for your comment, Michael. These scrapbooks are all available to researchers at the Connecticut Historical Society. We would love to have you come down and take a look at them!

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