BGC Fall Benefit, Highlighted by a Silent Auction, is a Major Hit

Last winter a former BGC student, Michelle Hargrave, had a brainstorm “What if,” she thought, “our Fall benefit to raise money for student scholarships, offered a silent auction highlighting an aspect of American design ingenuity?”   She is particularly interested in articles from the 1930s and 40s, and she soon discovered the buffet party, which reached an apex during this period because the Great Depression limited both hostesses means to hire servants, dining room space, and large services. Buffet dinners required much simpler, informal services, and American designers met the challenge by providing an extraordinary richness of innovative and affordable products geared specifically to this new market.

The response from us at the BGC was more than enthusiastic, and over the next 10 months or so Michelle managed to garner a treasure trove of items ranging from Fiesta ware to such brilliant designers as Russell Wright, Walter von Nessen and Lurelle Guild - who, among other pieces, was represented by a wine cooler with a plaque designed by Rockwell Kent. 

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By November 17, the night of the benefit, now called The Buffet Party: Entertaining with American Ingenuity, she had several dozen objects displayed on tables covering two floors of our new building on 38 West 86th Street, and more than 100 people participating in the Silent Auction. The results exceeded our hopes and raised several thousand dollars for our Scholarship Fund. Equally important, the guests were so enthusiastic that we’re thinking of doing something along the same lines next year. Any ideas?

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