The Claude C. Coffin Indian Collection
T his exhibit, made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, is housed in the Bryan-Downs House. This collection was assembled, mostly from the Milford area, by Claude C. Coffin, an archeologist of the 1920-1930 era and contains over 4,000 prehistoric Indian artifacts. The Coffin Collection contains an outstanding representation of every prehistoric period from the Paleo Indian 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.
A WTNH Channel 8 story on August 11, 2011 said The Cluade C. Coffin indian 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 the original museum it was offered to wanted to break up and sell the collection.
The Story of Early Man in Connecticut
T he story of early man in Connecticut began at least 13,000 years ago, after glacial ice had receded far enough north to allow for habitation of coastal New England. Armed with a spear or javelin to which was affixed a distinctive fluter point of lanceolate shape, these PALEO-INDIANS followed the seasonal movements of large herd animals. A climactic warming begun around 8,000 BC eventually favored smaller game. There was a fuller use of natural resources and shellfish became an important food. "Small-stemmed" points were made from local quartz pebbles during this Archaic stage. By 1,000 BC, although the hunting-fishing-gathering continued, there were new discoveries. Vessels of fired clay began to replace those of heavy soapstone and by 900 A.D. horticulture was known. Planting fields, pottery, and settled village life were markers of the woodland period, a stage which would last until the arrival of the Europeans.