This surname of COFFMAN is an Americanization of the name KAUFFMAN. The name has many variant spellings which include KAUFFMAN, KAUF, KOPPERMAN, KAIFEL and DE COPMAN. It was of the occupational group of surnames and it is probable that the early owner of the name was a dealer in stationary. The other occupation would have been a travelling man, a dealer or pedlar in various items. An act of Edward VI (1461-1483) speaks of 'persons or personnes commonly called pedlar, tinker or pety chapman'. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. A notable member of the name was Geoge Simon KAUFMAN (1889-1961) the American playwright, born in Pittsburgh. In collaboration with Moss Hart he wrote 'You Can't Take it with you' (Pulitzer Price 1939) and 'The Man Who Came To Dinner' (1939).
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