Margaret M. Coffin-age 89 of United Helpers Nursing Home
died at the nursing home on Tuesday morning,
Arrangements are with Frary Funeral Home.
Mrs. Coffin is survived by four sons whom she raised with
love; Charles of Virginia, Christopher and his wife Patricia of Morristown,
Jonathan of Syracuse and Jeffrey on Oneonta, five grandchildren and nine great
Margaret was born on
the daughter of Bert Job and Maude (Fuller) Mattison. She grew up in
She was trained as a teacher at the New York State Teacher’s College,
now the State University of New York at
years, primarily in
where she was Chair of the English department and
She married Charles B. Coffin on
While her parents were from farming families, her father
worked for years as a corrections officer.
She cited her parents as exemplars of kindness and decency.
Margaret wrote ”my entry into the world was
inauspicious. Mother’s doctor was
attending a neighbor whose son arrived shortly ahead of me, so Dad hurried to
find Mrs. Corlew who frequently assisted at birthing and knew exactly what to
do. I arrived, safe and health, and the
redhaired boy delivered the same day became a playmate and life-long
friend.” Margaret was a writer and
teacher who brought focus to
tinware. She was inspired to pursue
folklore by a professor in college, Harold W. Thompson. He was an early advocate of collecting folk
stories. In a note about his 1939 book, Body,
Boots and Britches, Thompson said “there are stories by a Miss Mattison in
the book. Many Thanks!” Margaret studied folklore and antiques for
most of her life, using them as a way to understand and teach values. She was a certified master craftsman by the
Esther Stevens Brazer Guild, the primary organization interested in painted tinware.
During the 1950’s she published articles about folklore,
antiques, decorating and tinware in magazines such as Antiques Magazine, the
New York Folklore Quarterly and The Decorator.
At the same time, she was gathering information for a late book, American
County Tinware, which some collectors still consider the standard reference
on the topic. While teaching English at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School,
Margaret introduced an elective course in folklore. Students in her classes who today are antique
dealers cite her for inspiring them.
For a period in the 60’s, while teaching in
she was part of experiments with innovative modular scheduling for
students. She was an editor for Women’s
Day magazine. She contributed a
number of articles on antiques and tinware to the magazine.
In the 70’s and 80’s after retiring from teaching, she
published two more books, Death in Early America and Borders
and Scrolls, which can be purchased today through Target.com. It is based on conservation work she did at
the historic site of the Martin Van Buren home in
She also published articles in magazines including Spinning Wheel, and
Early American Life and in newspapers including The Daily Star in
She also worked for a time as the Director of the Albany Institute of
History and Art.
Her interests went beyond writing and folklore she also
enjoyed folk music, jazz and automobiles, her favorite of which being German
Cars; Volkswagons and Porches. She and
her husband of over fifty years enjoyed redecorating and restoring old
home. They moved frequently, owning, and
living in better than thirty locations during their married life together. One home in
American Life magazine. Margaret kept
alive a Mattison family tradition of making molasses cookies, despite her
disinterest in cooking. A recipe that
was taught to her by her grandfather.