Since I accidentally knocked over the used film container holding them, I had an opportunity to take account of my 50-State Quarters collection. Something I do with feverish anticipation about once every 18 months or so.
See, the program was supposed to inspire a new era of coin collecting, and it kind of did. But only kind of. Mostly, it just inspired a lot of people like me who kinda wanted a full collection, but we're really that invested into doing much for it. So after a couple years of being on the look-out for new quarters, I know think of it every once and a while and scramble to locate quarters I know I once had but don't seem to have right now. Usually, this coincides with whenever I decide to roll my extra quarters because frankly I don't really care that much.
I appear to be missing Arkansas, Minnesota, and Kansas. I know I had Arkansas and Minnesota at some point, but I apparently never bothered to set one aside. I'm actually also missing Florida, but I'm pretty sure I have that at work after doing this about a year ago and going through a friends coins at work. Never bothered to bring it home, though.
Part of the problem is that, well, the designs kinda suck. They are either horribly boring nature scenes (Like Oregon and West Virginia) or insanely busy as they cram far too much into the quarter. (Like Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina)
I know the purpose of the program is to offer local color to the quarters, so I'll excuse Vermont's need to enshrine maple syrup production or but some of them are still kinda weird. Like Alabama honoring Helen Keller. Hey, I don't have a problem with her, but is she really all Alabama has? Well, maybe. Ditto Delaware championing of and Iowa putting a freakin' school house on a quarter seem pretty weak.
Also entertaining are the similiarities in the various states. Kansas for instance went with a buffalo for their design. A dumb idea given the buffalo's association with the nickel, but there you are. It really sucked for the good state of North Dakota though, as their design also incorporates the buffalo. One assumes out of spite for Kansas getting there first, though, ND slipped in 2 buffalo. Ohio is also a total design whore as they swiped elements from TWO other states that had a better claim on them. Rather than celebrate anything from Ohio, they opted to celebrate people born in Ohio who did important things elsewhere. Namely, the Wright Brothers first flight in North Carolina and Florida's part in the space program.
Some of the best designs were early designs. Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania all had nice, simple designs that did their job. And kudos to New Jersey for honoring a genuinely important historical event with the crossing of the Delaware.
Two designs, though, stand out as the best to date. Texas is my favorite by far. It takes the elements of MA, NY, and PA (state outline with little added) and refines it. Where the other states all included a human form on their design, which while understandable isn't very strong visually in the small size, Texas went with a simple Texas lone-star. Its a very strong visual, augmented well with a lariat design around the sides. This is easily my favorite design to date. The runner-up for me is my home state of Connecticut. While the Charter Oak ran the risk of being too local for anyone to care, it was very well suited for the Quarter. It makes for a nice, clean visual that still has tons of detail and interest. It only loses points because the story of the Charter Oak is a bit too distant (predating the Revolution by almost 100 years) even though the whole story is pretty fun. The lights going out and something turning up missing is such a cliche, its actually quite gratifying to know it did once happen with something quite important.
The worst design, though, goes to the darn fools of New Hampshire who saw fit to honor a natural landmark, the Old Man in the Mountain. Fair enough. Even if a rock formation that sorta looked like a person in profile didn't seem really important, plenty of others followed suit with nature scenes with less dynamic results. The real problem, though, is that rock formation was known at the time to be unstable. Indeed, they'd known this for about 100 years. Over that 100 years, they repeatedly tried to prevent its impending demise, patching cracks and adding support. Yet, they saw fit to use such a precarious visual as their lasting State Quarter symbol. In less than 3 years after the quarter was released, the rock formation completely collpased. Not quite the symbol of a state's permianance that I'd see fit for a Quarter, but there you are.