I gotta tell you, folks, we're in the dregs, now. The idea that national parks/monuments/seashores/ street corners would make good coins was all very well and good at the start, but when every state has to come up with one? Yeah, we're taking blind swings here. This year, it is pretty obvious that they're reaching, as every National Thingummy is far from the rest of its state.
To make matters worse, these are probably the collectively blandest versions of coins I have ever seen. It the worst collection of rocks, water, trees, and the occasional bird available, and will be forgotten in the time that it takes to put them into a soda machine pay slot. I will try to be brief this year, but man, it feels like the guys at the mint are just phoning it in.
As always, we go with a letter grade on these babies. None really rate the worst, but man, there is temptation.
Way Cool =A
Not Bad = B
Kinda Lame (also known as Meh) = C
Very Lame = D
So Fake, Sen, Nunes of California put out a memo supporting these = E
What's up first?
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Michigan
Many, many years ago, the Lovely Bride and I went to Australia, and visited a site called the Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island. And the name of both the rocks and the island where so on the nose that we have since decided that by the time we reached Australia, the Europeans had run out of interesting names. ("Those rocks are remarkable!" "Crikey! That's good name for them!").
Little did we realize that we had run out of useful names long before them, as the coin, which is a Pictured Rock from the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, with a tree growing out of it. Actually I think this particular rock, located so far away from the rest of Michigan that it should be on the Wisconsin quarter, is called Chapel Rock because ... I dunno, they pulled the name out of a bag (or maybe the whole in the arch looks a stained glass window after the Blitz.
Ratings: D (Lame)
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore - Wisconsin
I mentioned that the Pictured Rocks could be practically been part of the Wisconsin? With just a little bit of effort, the Apostle Islands could have been on a Canadian Loonie. No even on the continental part of the US, the Apostle Islands are, of course, islands off the northern coast of Wisconsin (no, you never though of Wisconsin having a northern coast. I know). This is at the very tip of the cowlick that is the top of Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior and I would say, is not a great tourist draw.
However, they did put a kayaker on the coin, which is nice, though in this case the paddler is actually from Green Bay, and trying to get to his seats at the Packer home opener before the freeze sets in.
Ratings: D (Lame)
Voyageurs National Park - Minnesota
Voyageurs! What a cool name! I'm not talking about the cheesy 80's time-travelling TV show, but rather about French-Canadian fur trappers who sailed the Great Lakes and actually had mostly good relationships with the people already living here. You'd think you might get a shot of the plunky traders, their canoes heavily laden with furs for the long trip back to Montreal.
Nope. Rocks, water, trees. Oh, a big shot of loon right in the front, set up like a duck decoy. Like they just WANT the Canadians to walk in. Look! We have the coinage already set up for you!
Like the other two quarters so far, we are looking at a park that is at the furthest northern fringes of its state, but oddly, has no snow. Voyageurs is located near International Falls, the self-described "icebox of the nation". But no, we insist on showing liquid water.
Ratings: D (Meh).
Cumberland Island National Seashore - Georgia.
Well, thank the Lord that we have escaped all the rocks and trees of the far north for this one. I mean, seriously putting the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota quarters together? What did you expect? And despite the name confusion with the Cumberland Gap (Kentucky, two years back), we have a seashore that people in Georgia may have actually been to (though that's because it is practically in Florida).
We don't have rocks and trees, but we do have a lot of water, a lot of reeds, and a bird. Birds, I think, are easy for these coins, since there is a chance they may still be seen in those locals, and they work cheaper than mammals (who unionized back in '06). This particular bird is a snowy egret.
A snowy egret. The coins previous were all in the furthest north, and this one gets the first off-hand mention of snow. Still, it is a nice portrayal of a snowy egret, and doesn't look as much like a duck decoy.
Ratings: B (And I'm rounding up here).
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge - Rhode Island
Following the pattern so far, Block Island is about as far away as you can be from Rhode Island while still BEING part of Rhode Island. It is about 12 miles off-shore in the Atlantic Ocean. The island islands itself has a pretty interesting and storied past, but for the coin we get a majestic night heron flying over the water and coast, with a tiny lighthouse in the background.
Its not a bad design, though the side-view of the heron doesn't compare with the display of the egret down in Georgia, and there is an attempt to say that people once inhabited this area, but still, it just doesn't do a lot for me.
Ratings: C (Meh)
Next year? We leave the continent entirely for Guam and the Mariana Islands. Oh, and Texas, Massachusetts, and Idaho. With all that diversity, let's mix it up a bit, people!
Lapidary prose (twenty-five words a day) - So, while revising to my Eddison piece I came across a striking passage that I'd either overlooked before or, more likely, read when the book in question ...
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