Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Quarter (Part XI of X)

You think you get out, but they pull you back in.

Long-term readers know about my long-standing obsession with the Fifty State Quarters program, where each state has gotten the back of a quarter to extol their virtues. Ten years, five states a year. Ending, eventually, with Hawaii (A quarter that makes me smile, because we put a KING on the coin), and we’re done.

Not so fast. NOW we have the DC and US Territory Quarters. A set of six more coins for locations that most Americans are unaware we even own, much less know that our money is still good there. So, with a heavy heart, I return to the subject of savaging our coinage, in the desperate hope that these lesser lights, these territories that are the AAA baseball of the US, have learned from their big-league mentors.

Here are the rules, from previous years -

So as a reminder, here are the rules that you may have a lame quarter:
If you have to remind people what your state looks like, you may have a lame quarter.
If you use a variety of different-sized objects, you may have a lame quarter.
If one of those objects is produce, you may have a lame quarter,
If you have to label the illustration, you may have a lame quarter.
If, after you label the illustration, people still think it is something else, you DEFINITELY have a lame quarter (I'm looking at YOU, Delaware!).

The rating system will be, from top to bottom
Cool = A
Not Bad = B
Kinda Lame = C
Very Lame = D

As usual, betting on the results is discouraged but not prohibited.

District of Columbia
The DC coin is already out, and is not a bad coin. And I’m willing to give DC a break, because most of the cool buildings they could put on the coins are ALREADY on our currency, like Lincoln Memorial and the White House. Instead they chose to honor native son Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington, who is well known for telling people how to get OUT of DC and get to Harlem ("Take the A Train"). The only sad thing is that the natives of DC were forbidden to put on the coin the slogan they chose for their license plates "No Taxation Without Representation"), and instead had to go for the (highly ironic) "Justice for All". Big words for the only part of the continental US that doesn't get to vote in Congress.

Still, Duke Ellington. High marks for that.

Rating - A - Cool

Puerto Rico
This is a pretty coins that reads “Isla Del Encanto”, which means “Island of Enchantment” and reinforces that motto by displaying a wizard's tower and the deadly carnivorous plants that Prospero first created there in his exile there during the reign of Elizabeth R.

Supposedly this coin was to be used a material component for a 6th level wizard spell in D&D, but 4E got rid of all that stuff and Puerto Rico just didn't get the memo in time.

Rating - B - Not Bad

At this point we’re getting into the realm of “Excuse me, sir. Is THIS your island?” This is the kitchen drawer of American possessions, back past the spatulas and whisks. Guam, like Puerto Rico, was one of the territories we grabbed from the Spanish the last time we got all frisky and Imperialist. It shows the shape of the island (usually a bad sign in a coin, but let’s be honest – did YOU know what Guam looked like? Its not like its Colorado or anything). Also shown is a boat, the only way of reaching Guam, and a model of the Super Bowl trophy to congratulate the Pittsburgh Steelers over their defeat of the Seattle Seahawks a few years back.

Rating - C - Kinda Lame

American Samoa
American Samoa is so named so there is no confusion with any OTHER Samoa you happen to be dating at the moment. As with Guam, it too shows the Samoan’s dedication to the NFL by displaying its local stadium and traditional cheerleader pompoms. It has the words SAMOA MUAMUA LE ATUA on it, quoting Margaret Meade’s immortal words “Those Samoans are a surly bunch”.

Rating - C - Kinda Lame

US Virgin Islands
We’re going to avoid the obvious cheap shot here over the name and just point out that this commits all the crimes of state coinage – the official bird (the Banana Quit), the official flower (The Yellow Elder), the official tree (The Tyre Palm) and the official Diseased Whales that have washed up on the beach (Huey, Dewey, and Fidel), who apparently met their demise through eating Tyre Palms, Yellow Elders, and Banana Quits.

Rating - D - Very Lame

Northern Marina Islands
One of our most recent acquisitions, the Northern Marina Islands attained commonwealth status in 1975, making it one of the triumphs of the Ford Administration. And actually, its not that horrible of a coin, with a sea shore, a traditional craft, seabirds, and um an, well, a ... Well they call that large upright structure a latte, but it looks like someone wanted to compete with Utah for most inadvertent sexual image in the collection.

Though it may be that coin collectors just need to get out more.

Rating - B, but only because I keep giggling when I look at it.

And that does it. No, really, this time. Though I hear that the NFL, delighted by all the football imagery in this set, is going to sponsor a set of quarters, one for each of its teams - the only sticking point is whether to do it in order of admission to the league, or number of Super Bowl wins (either puts Seattle near the end of the order).

More later,