Charles Coffin, “The Maine Hermit” was a well known tourist attraction in the Freeport, Maine area and lived nearby on the road to The Desert of Maine. The sandy area was formed after the Tuttle family moved there and began farming in the late-1790s; over the course of 100-plus years, poor land management followed by tending sheep caused the top soil to erode leaving behind a forty acre plot of sand-like glacial silt.
Coffin a true Yankee character lived at his shop filled with oddities and antiques that was open to the public on the well-traveled Desert of Maine Road. For more exposure he used his unique Chevrolet motorhome and signage along with his early Brush automobile on the area roads to drum up business.
- In the lead photo, Coffin is posing in his single-cylinder circa 1910-’11 Brush with a folk art creation.
- Coffin and his mid-to-late 1920s Chevrolet truck with his own unique handcrafted motorhome body.
Coffin although he was a bit of an eccentric apparently supported himself by running a novelty and curiosity shop that displayed his collection of guns, antiques and oddities. Amidst the collection, he sold folk art creations, painted hand made wooden flowers, oil paintings, and charged a 15-cent admission fee.
The 1941 images of Coffin and his vehicles are courtesy of Digital Commonwealth via the Boston Public Library.
- A 1930s advertisement below “The Maine Hermit” used to attract visitors to his shop near The Maine Desert. His claim about his “one cylinder car – the father of the present day Chrysler” appears to be incorrect.