OKLAHOMA: Pretty boid! Pretty boid! There's nothing wrong with this quarter, it's just uninspiring, much like Oklahoma itself. I suppose a reference to dead Indians was out of the question, but surely they could have done something more creative than this. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Another blown deadline."
UTAH: I sort of like the fact that the golden spike is engraved so huge that it looks like it's going to crush both of the trains, which might not be a bad thing since they're about to smash into each other anyway. Also, that if you look at it at the right angle, it looks like they're trying to claim credit for the Space Needle. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "There was once a time, a century or so ago, when our state seemed relevant."
WYOMING: Boy, I really like the design here. The image itself is no great shakes -- it's something we've all seen before, and it's strangely reminiscent of both cowboy art and casino logos -- but the decision to just go with a simple silhouette was a masterstroke. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Nothing says 'equality' like a cowboy."
IDAHO: Trying way, way too hard. Note the tiny little depiction of the actual state in the corner and then YAAAAAH GIANT BIRD! As if Idahoans were constantly under attack by rocs or crazed falconers or something. On the other hand, it is the only state whose coin mentions a font. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "We are ashamed of our potatoes."
WASHINGTON: This is classic state quarter design here -- simple image (fish) with an artistic flair (splashing water) and a geographical element (Mount Rainier). Nothing flashy, just solid design work. Nicely done, Washington. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Kill an animal here."
MONTANA: Speaking of killing animals, this is the only state quarter that actually has the skull of a living creature on it, which is pretty insane. Although it would be awesome if some state had a HUMAN skull on it. And, like, flames and shit. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "We love killing in Montana."
SOUTH DAKOTA: Wheat, presidents, and a bird people like to shoot at. South Dakota hasn't got much else going for it -- its most famous natural terrain, the creepily gorgeous Badlands, look like an alien planet -- and you know there was no way they would leave off Rushmore. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Our state: some call it predictable, we prefer reliable."
NORTH DAKOTA: Here is what you have to understand about North Dakota. There is nothing there. There is no reason for anyone to go there, ever. That is why their quarter is so boring: they had to put an extinct animal on it, because they literally couldn't think of anything else. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Contrary to what you may have heard, the sun does occasionally shine in North Dakota."
COLORADO: It takes stones to put the slogan "Colorful Colorado" on a monochromatic piece of art. Otherwise, this is a fine design, emphasizing the natural beauty of the Rockies instead of the overwhelming population of insane Christians. I think the picture actually shows Vail, and if you look closely, you can see people doing blow. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Stay away! Mountains!"
NEBRASKA: I don't have any idea what Chimney Rock is. I'm guessing it's a big tall rock that looks kind of like a chimney. Well played, Nebraska, and way to borrow North Dakota's 'we don't have anything here' trick of filling up space with a big radiant sun. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Even the pioneers were in a big hurry to get out of Nebraska".
NEVADA: "The Silver State", which would be relevant if quarters had any silver in them. Running wild horses, which would be relevant if Nevada had any wild horses left that aren't part of the Cirque de Soliel. This thing is awfully busy considering it's predicated on a lie. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "We are not allowed to mention organized gambling."
WEST VIRGINIA: Making even North Dakota look like a tourist paradise, the best that West Virginia could do once they decided that featuring a moonshine-drinking, shotgun-wielding hillbilly would be bad for business was to put a picture of a gorge on the quarter. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "A big gorge, folks, that's all we got."
KANSAS: Cornflowers and a buffalo. Not even any wheat. This quarter just doesn't give a fuck and it doesn't care who knows it. The only possible interest that this quarter could hold is if it had a deathmatch with the buffalo on the North Dakota coin. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Who even gives a shit about state quarters? Not Kansas."
OREGON: I hate to say it, but despite the lovely design of this coin -- it makes very effective use of negative space -- it really does nothing to dispel Oregon's reputation as a second-rate copycat of Washington. The design is alarmingly similar, to Oregon's detriment. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "But we did it first!"
MINNESOTA: I have a soft spot for coins from states I've lived in, and the Minnesota quarter is no exception. It emphasizes the rural beauty and not the relentless whiteness, and the pretty art on the coin is only broken up by the silhouette of the state, which is distracting. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "But we're almost as big as Texas!"
CALIFORNIA: The coin of compromise. A state so big, with so many famous landmarks and historical sites, and so much to represent, can't possibly make everyone happy, so we end up with a rambling old Scotsman and his natural parks, which signifies California to no one. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "L.A. and San Francisco are pissed. Again."
WISCONSIN: This might be my favorite one. It's so simple and direct and wholesome and Midwestern. Who doesn't like corn? And cows! They're awesome! Cheese, too, is delicious! And "Forward!" A relatively uncontroversial slogan! WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Boy, are you hungry, too?"
IOWA: A boring state with a boring design, Iowa emphasizes education on its quarter by depicting a little red schoolhouse, engraved with maximum dullness. Or maybe it's supposed to be the Iowa Writer's Workshop. You can barely see the farm in the background, unlike when you drive through the state and it's all you see for 600 miles. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Zzzzzz."
TEXAS: I know I'll be accused of being a homer here, but in fact, I do not actually like living in Texas very much. Or at all. But this design is wonderful -- faced with the same we-can't-please-everyone dilemma as California, Texas went for simple instead of obscure, showing off the classic Lone Star design. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Suck it, all you other states."
FLORIDA: This coin is fucking ridiculous. Gateway to discovery my flabby ass. The only fun I get out of this coin is to imagine that the Space Shuttle is fixing to drop bombs on Ponce De Leon's boat, thus triggering a fun sci-fi adventure. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "We're Florida, and we blow."
MICHIGAN: It's understandable that Michigan no long wishes to call attention to Detroit, but the Great Lakes State thing seems kind of vague, not to mention grabby, since they're claiming credit for all the Great Lakes, including the one that doesn't even touch Michigan. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "I am worth 25 cents."
ARKANSAS: This may be my least favorite state coin. It's such a fucking mess -- lousy design and pseudoreference up the asshole. It's too busy, it's poorly done, and if it says anything about the state, it's easy to miss. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Visit Arkansas, where ducks can fly and huge gemstones float mysteriously over the swamp!"
MISSOURI: I don't know what the 'Corps of Discovery' is, but apparently, they've been floating around the bulrushes in an inflatable boat for the last 104 years, looking for baby Moses. The St. Louis Arch is featured, but St. Louis itself is not. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "We got tired about halfway through the design of this coin."
ALABAMA: Okay, I guess it's more uplifting than lynchings, Bull Connor and MLK getting whomped on, but Helen Keller or no Helen Keller, Alabama trying to lay claim to any sort of civil rights heritage is pretty gross. I'd have gone for cotton or steel. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Alabama! We are kind to gimps of all sorts!"
ILLINOIS: It's nice to see Chicago get its due, seeing as it's the only thing worth shit in the whole state, but the rest of the coin being taken up with not-Chicago kinda grates. Also, the quarter will seem fancifully old-timey come 2101. WHAT THIS QUARTER SAYS TO ME: "Outta my way, America! HERE COMES ABE LINCOLN!"
To be continued at some far-flung future time.