And these last few are the most esoteric and frankly beautiful of the lot. They are quirky, and part of that makes sense, since the treasury released these in order that the park/whatever was founded. So the big wilderness parks with mountains and hooved herbivores tended to come first, and now we are at the last bits, which can be a little quirky. But that quirkiness has been embraced to produce some stunners this time. I'm including the sole representative of 2021 for consideration as well, rather than leave that an outlier.
As always, I grade these, based on my own personal tastes. Your own mileage may vary, and readers are encouraged to get their own blogs to talk about them.
Way Cool =A
Not Bad = B
Kinda Lame (also known as Meh) = C
Very Lame = D
The Trump Administration Would Blame Obama = E
Let's dig in, one last time:
National Park of American Samoa - American Samoa
Bats are getting a bad press these days, but I really like this one. It amazes me in that "why didn't we think of this before?" way. Putting cute animals on coins! It's worked so well for Internet memes, why not here?
I mean, we are talking about American Samoa, here, which most Americans cannot locate on the map (OK, NPR reporters could, but nobody else). Well, we probably know it is somewhere in the South Pacific, with bonus points if you can put it to the east of West Samoa (which wants to be know as original-flavor, unleaded Samoa these days), and you get to go to the championship round if you put it at the northernmost part of the Tonga trench. Surprisingly, it is not something we took from the Japanese occupiers after WWII, but rather from the German occupiers in 1899, where it was used as a coaling station.
However, the cool thing about American Samoa is on the coin - it is the home of two varieties of fruit bat, and the Treasury shows Mother and Child fruit bats. The carving itself of one image, is superior to the mixed bag you see in some earlier quarters, and is really well-done.
It will be a surprise to people who suddenly find it in their change. And particular cool for the gothy culture.
Rating = A (Way Cool)
Weir Farm National Historic Site - Connecticut
OK, making this the subject of a coin is a bit of stretch, but then again, we are talking about Connecticut. Not a lot of places for National Parks. It got a really nice coin the first time around with a tree, and I half-expected to see a scenic lighthouse here. We get an image of someone painting an image. But the artist is confronting a blank canvas. Very meta. Much wow.
The coin celebrates Julian Aiden Weir, the founder of the American Impressionist movement. I know what you're saying. When we're talking about American Impressionists, we usually mean Rich Little and David Frye. This was a bonafied movement in the US,and consisted of "The Ten" - a group of impressionists that rejected the conservatism of previous groups and formed their own group (Process of Art History - Some people form a movement to rebel against the conservatism of their elders. Wait fifteen years, and then a NEW group will form to rebel against the original rebels).
The coin itself is interesting. It is very busy, and I wonder how it will press out in the final. The artist and easel in particular may see some wear. It does drive home the entire question of "what it is about" by engraving deeply a meme (A National Park For Art) where other coins would have just left the area as creative white space. So both laying the motto in the grass AND the catch-phrase provides some interesting balance along the right-hand side to balance the left.
Rating = B (Not Bad)
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve - US Virgin Islands
Interesting, Iconic, and something I would not normally connect with the US Virgin Islands. The VIs themselves are a chain in the Atlantic that most people would guess as "somewhere near the Bahamas, wherever those are (actually, it is east of Puerto Rico, and south of the British Virgin Islands). Bought from the Danes (the Danes? Yes, the Danes) in 1916 to keep them out of German hands during WWI (negotiations were concluded 6 days before the US officially declared war, for the cool price of 25 million and recognizing Danish claims in Greenland (Greenland? Danes? Yep.).
The coin looks like an ent wading through the flooded Isengard, but is really a mangrove, which is not something I connected with the VIs (OK, OK, there was nothing I connect with the VIs except for sophomoric jokes). But it is appropriate, and like the Connecticut state quarter (also with the tree) it should feel pretty good in the hand. Yeah, it works.
Rating = A (Way Cool)
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve - Kansas
Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site - Alabama