Artists of Lake George: Haskell Coffin
In 1917, Russell C. Leffingwell, a young lawyer who was serving as assistant secretaty of the treasury, commissioned a series of posters by well-known American illustrators to promote the sale of war bonds.
Among those artists was Haskell Coffin, who, over the course his career, painted more than thirty covers for the Saturday Evening Post.
Co-incidentally, both men had Lake George connections. Leffingwell married the niece of Edward Morse Shepard and built his own home near what is now Exit 22 of the Adirondack Northway.
Coffin developed a relationship with Silver Bay, for which he designed several posters. He also built or bought a home in Diamond Point.
Leffingwell went on to become a partner in the firm of of J.P. Morgan and an advisor to every president from Woodrow Wilson to Dwight Eisenhower. (The only exception, it appears, was Calvin Coolidge.)
Coffin had a somewhat more colorful career. Most of the models for his Saturday Evening Post were show girls, and after the death of his first wife, he married one of them: Frances Starr. She divorced him ten years later, reportedly on the grounds of a failure to provide financial support. He committed suicide in 1941, leaping from a third floor window of a hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
By the early 1930s, the Coffins were no longer married and no longer spending summers on Lake George. But Haskell Coffin’s son, George Martin Coffin, continued to play a role in the cultural life of Lake George. He established a summer theater company known as the Lake Players, which presented plays featuring Broadway actors over a five week season at the Lake George High School. For its inaugural season in 1932, the Players listed such local notables as Adolph Ochs, Louise and Sidney Homer and George Reis as patrons. The inaugural season may well have been its last. No information about the group after 1932 has been found.