Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: Territory quarters

I promised I would get to them, so here they are, the United States Territories quarters. Since there are only six of them, I will cover them all in one post.

Let's begin with:

The District of Columbia

OK, D.C. is unique. It's not a territory. But it's included in this quarter series by the U.S. Mint, so there it is.

And it's not very good. To begin with, I like the concept of doing something completely different with the design (I was expecting the Washington Monument, to tell you the truth), so I was pleasantly surprised to see jazz great Duke Ellington featured all on his own. But the problem here is that this is a quarter, not a full-sized portrait. So that image of Ellington is nothing more than an amorphous human outline. It might as well be anybody, because it sure as hell doesn't look like any jazz great I know.

Overall rating - 2 - Mediocre

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico produced a good design. The garita is a nice element to feature because it is pleasing to the eye, and it's different from what you might expect to see on a quarter design. (It reminds me of the Miradores del Mar along the seawall in Corpus Christi.) The only thing I don't like about this design is the inclusion of the flowers, but I think I can let that one slide.

Overall rating - 3 - Good


The designers of the Guam quarter also did very well. There's the outline of the territory -- a technique employed quite often in the State Quarters program -- accented by two simple, iconic elements: a sailing boat and a structure known as a latte stone. These pillars are said to be foundations for huts, or even houses, but they are obviously important symbols of the native people that live on the islands in the area. It's a unique structure, and it looks good on this coin. (I'm ignoring the text; it's small enough to be inconspicuous.)

Overall rating - 3 - Good

American Somoa

Ah, yes, American Somoa. Land of virile people like Junior Seau and The Rock. And a place that knows how to use its cultural elements. There you have the the kava bowl, the fly switch, and the staff of authority, all arranged nicely on that small round canvas. They could have left off the motto and the tropical landscape in the background and it would have been better, but a good effort nonetheless.

Overall rating - 3 - Good

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands! What's great about them? Tim Duncan, that's what!

But not this quarter. It's a mess of trees, flowers, a lonely bird -- all of which almost never work out on these designs -- and a frowny-faced outline above a lame motto. Not good at all.

Overall rating - 1 - Bad

Northern Mariana Islands

Here we have the quarter design for the Northern Mariana Islands, and here we have a repeat of what we've seen before on the Guam quarter. There's that sailing boat again, and there's another latte stone, so right away it's not original. And there's additional clutter in the form of birds, trees, beach sand, and some kind of foliage in the foreground. It's not completely terrible, but it doesn't quite make it to "good" either.

Overall rating - 2 - Mediocre

Well, that wraps up the Territories Quarter Program. But the fun ain't over yet!

Stay tuned for updates on the "America the Beautiful Quarters" series, which is ongoing! This series celebrates the U.S. National Parks, and there will be 50 of them as well, one for each state (Texas will feature the missions in San Antonio - yay!).

They've only released the first three quarters in this series, and two more designs have been revealed, so maybe there's still time to get to some of these committees and convince them to be very careful in their work. Know anybody on one of these committees? Direct them to this blog, and then have them peruse my coin reviews before settling on a design. They'll get some food for thought, you'll only be doing your state a favor.

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