Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: State quarters - Pennsylvania

Here's the second state quarter to be issued, the one for Pennsylvania.

This quarter design marks the first of many that takes advantage of a convenient element: the outline of the state. This element in and of itself is neither lame nor cool, but you need a state outline that is distinctive and recognizable to pull it off. And, Pennsylvania, you are bordering on lameness here. I mean, come on, except for a little raggedness on the right and a small shark fin on the upper left corner, you've got a rectangle here. That's it.

But then you save your design with Lady Liberty. That's good. Pennsylvania is steeped in American history, and Philadelphia is the home of the Liberty Bell. You can't go wrong evoking that imagery. In fact, all of the original thirteen states have automatic cool factors built in just by virtue of being the first thirteen states. That's important enough to be represented by the stripes on the flag of this nation, and all of those states can't miss by playing up that history.

"Virtue, liberty, independence." The state motto. Very positive.

But what is that thing to the left of the lady? It's an odd shape, kind of like a trapezoid, with another trapezoid on top. Strange enough to get my attention, but what does it remind me of? I'm not sure. Let me think. It would help if the designer gave me a hint as to what it could be. But ----- no. No hint on the quarter. It does look kind of like stone. Like a stone on top of an archway, maybe. A keystone.

Oh. Oh wait. That's right. The nickname for Pennsylvania is "The Keystone State." I remember that now. But what if I didn't know that, and what if my knowledge of architecture was nonexistent? In that case, that shape is nothing more than an interesting shape. Come on, these are state quarters here. Don't make the rest of the country try too hard to figure it out. Today it's pretty easy to find the meaning, but back in 1999, when this quarter was issued, there was no Wikipedia to give you the answers or starting points for research.

But it's still a pretty decent design. I give it extra points for the liberty references. Plus I know some people from Pennsylvania who are pretty cool, too, and I give it some points based just on them.

Overall rating - 3 - Good

New Jersey is next.

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