The tide of State Quarter ranking rolls on! Catch up on all the previous rounds here!
Due to an error at the mint, Delaware’s State Quarter only has the first three words of its motto printed. It is supposed to read “The First State to make up a historical figure to put on our quarter.” “Caesar Rodney”? Really? I’ll come right out and say that I remember a good deal of elementary and middle school history classes, have read My Brother Sam is Dead and half of Johnny Tremain and have also driven through Delaware at 85 miles and hour at least four dozen times, and I had never heard of this Caesar character until this quarter came out in 1999. The fact that this was the first quarter people had seen since 1976 that did not feature a big Eagle on the back of it made it all the more jarring when it was initially released. We all acknowledge that American currency is among the most boring in the world, but few of us were willing to accept that the way to jazz it up was to slap fictional characters on it. Caesar Rodney sounds like the made up name of a Jobber in the WWE, and going up against the Huge Bear Juggernaut of Alaska is the equivalent of a Jobber vs Hulk Hogan matchup.
Winner: Alaska – In the most lopsided match-up to date
The battle between Arkansas and Minnesota resembles the scene in that movie where the character is forced to fight a copy of himself…What was that movie…Well, I can’t remember what movie that was in, probably dozens of them. I know it happens in “The Legend of Zelda” all the time. The point is, the quarters are virtually identical. Waterfowl, water upon which to fowl, scenic trees surrounding the water, which presumably provide some sort of respite from the water when the fowl so desires it…To differentiate the two, Minnesota’s has your standard state outline/motto combo, as well as some fishermen enjoying 1/10,000 of Minnesotas bounty of lakes, and Arkansas has the previously mentioned giant floating diamond. Rumor has it that sales of Land o’ Lakes butter soared after the Minnesota quarter came out, but ironically, only in Arkansas.
Winner: Arkansas – The touch of Surreal Bling makes Arkansas stand out in an otherwise evenly matched (and boring) contest
The glory of America’s natural resources go head to head with our tendency to kick some ass if necessary. New Jersey’s quarter is of course a representation of Emanuel Leutze’s painting of Washington crossing the Delaware into New Jersey, which is itself a tribute to this Gary Larson cartoon. Word is Washington had traveled into Delaware to try to track down Caesar Rodney, who owed him money, but he soon realized he was just some fake name that the Hessians made up, so he sailed back across the river to attack them. New Jersey unfortunately succumbs to the popular “Crossroads” meme that plagues 6% of all State Quarters, but it’s not as bad because A) they were the first ones to do it and B) it is much easier to pinpoint the crossroads of a revolution, aka the turning point, than it is “America” or “The West”. Arizona’s quarter pays tribute to an awe inspiring scene of natural beauty. But it looks like it could just be another tourist photo of the canyon, hurridly taken in a fit of rage while your kids refuse to stop playing Game Boy and get out of the car.
Winner: New Jersey – Sticking a Washington on both sides of a quarter is bold. Paying tribute to a major historical act and a work of art on the same quarter is classy. Bold + Classy = Winner.
Idaho’s giant bird of prey faces off with the kings of the great plains, the bison. It’s a tough call. The deadening gaze of Idaho’s falcon is quite intimidating. But to me, there’s an undeniable appeal in creating a backstory for the North Dakota quarter:
[Ring Ring. Governor of North Dakota picks up phone.]
Aide: Mr. Governor Sir! Have you mailed those proofs for the state quarter off to the mint yet?
Governor: I was just about to sign them. What’s the matter?
Aide: I’m sending over an email sir. It’s Kansas…You better take a look at it.
Governor: Son of bitch…A buffalo!
Aide: Technically, it’s a bison sir.
Governor: Does the public know about this? How long has this been out?
Aide: It came out last year sir.
Governor: Well our design is worthless now. We can’t put out another quarter with a buffalo on it. If we have a copycat state quarter, people will mock our state and nobody will want to live here! And there’s not enough time to redesign it!
Aide: Sir, if you’ll indulge me for just a second, I have an idea how we might be able to save the quarter.
Governor: Dammit Aide! Tell me quickly!
Aide: Well sir, Kansas’ quarter has one bison…
Governor: Go on…
Aide: If we were to maybe put two bison on our quarter…It would be better than having just ONE bison
Governor: You magnificent bastard… You’ve saved North Dakota’s state quarter! And maybe one of the Buffalo could be holding up a sign that says “Screw Kansas!”
Aide: I would advise against that sir, it may be perceived as deeply offensive.
Governor: Very well. Nobody will be able to misinterpret this “Buffalo doubling” gesture anyways.
Aide: Bison sir.
Winner: North Dakota – The closest a state quarter has come to a declaration of war