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This exhibit, made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, is housed in the Bryan-Downs House. This collection was assembled by Claude C. Coffin, an archeologist of the 1920-1930 era and contains over 4,000 prehistoric Native American artifacts. Most items came from the Milford area with some from a block away from the Society’s grounds in downtown Milford.

The Coffin Collection contains an outstanding representation of every prehistoric period from the Paleo Native American to the Northeastern Woodland and Contact Period; including a wide variety of projectile and spear points, celts, large axes, choppers, knives and large pestles, all of outstanding quality. The projectile points, alone, span 10,000 years. The collection of pottery is one of the most important in Southeast New England, representing a wide range of known styles for this area. Unusual too, is the collection of effigy figures. Our collection is not only fascinating to the novice, but an important tool for the researcher. A catalog of all the above material will be available by appointment.

Claude C. Coffin’s interest in Native American artifacts began in 1900, when he was 14-years-old. Over the years, he became a familiar figure to residents of Wheeler’s Farms, Laurel Beach, Gulf Pond and other neighborhoods, both within his own town of Milford and in nearby communities as he pursued what was to be a life-long hobby.

A machinist by trade and a collector by avocation, he kept a detailed record of his work, wrote numerous articles for Bulletin of Archaeology Society of Connecticut the 1940’s, serving two terms as the Society’s President. As the Collection grew, so did his correspondence with professionals in the field of Northeast achaeology. In 1962, he was the first recipient of the of the Russell Award, given annually by the Archaeology Society of Connecticut in recognition of outstanding service.

In 1967, just two years before his death, Mr. Coffin gave the collection to the Milford Historical Society. The collection is a valuable aid in the study of local prehistory.

Research materials are available for the purpose of scholarship at the discretion of the Society, by appointment.

The Claude C. Coffin Native American Artifact Collection has an estimated 4,000 pieces including bones, arrowheads and clay pots put together like jigsaw pieces dating as far back as 10,000 years old. Claude started the collection in 1900 with items from around Connecticut with many pieces from around Milford. It was given to the Society in 1967 after a New Haven museum it was offered to wanted to break up and sell the collection.

Other Milford Historical Society collections include interesting pieces of Milford furniture, from the Marion Buckingham Tibbals collection, and items from the Platt, Beard, Camp and Eells families.