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Thoughts on Territory Quarters

October 7th, 2009 by Conor Lastowka · 28 Comments

Having written more words than probably anyone (excluding Bunnicula series author James Howe) on the subject of State Quarters, I’ve received numerous inquiries regarding when I am going to tackle the newly released US Territory Quarters. My response was always the same: What?

Yes, the existence of these quarters was long considered to be a mere rumor, the Loch Ness Monster of the currency world (I covered the Bigfoot here.) But then on a trip through Oregon, I received the District of Columbia quarter and realized that I would eventually have to cover these guys to bring the Most Awesome State Quarter tournament to an official close.

Would any of the quarters have stood a chance in the original tournament? Short answer: absolutely not. Let’s face it. These quarters are going to be the first time most American’s have heard of any of these places, and as far as first impressions go, many of them don’t measure up. Could they have eliminated Ohio? Of course. Minnesota? Obviously. But Alaska? Please.

But just because they couldn’t snag a spot in the finals, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t review the Territory Quarters, (actual official name: the “2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarter Program”. Because they wanted something catchy. )

AS Coin

American Samoa

Known for: inventing the best variety of Girl Scout Cookie
What they put on the Quarter instead: The Roman Colosseum and a pencil topped with Treasure Troll hair
Thoughts: Do they still make those Trolls? Who owns the rights to those things?
State Quarter it most resembles: The round thing, undoubtedly some structure of great historical import that was probably built before America was independent, reminds me of the wheel of cheese on Wisconsin’s

GU Coin

Guam

Known for: The legendary Led Zeppelin “Live From Guam” bootleg, where Robert Plant is showered with boos after he mistakenly says “It’s great to be here in Detroit!”
What they put on the quarter instead: A birdbath
Thoughts: Doesn’t Guam look a lot like Lake Michigan? Don’t they both look vaguely-wangish? Can you use the phrase “Vaguely-wangish” in a sentence today?
State Quarter it most resembles: Michigan crossed with Rhode Island (Note: first time this combination has ever been used to describe anything)

PR Coin

Puerto Rico

Known for: Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente
What they put on the quarter instead: A building which, though it remains unidentified, I am positive must be connected to Roberto Clemente in some way. Dude’s like Bob Marley in Jamaica down there.
Thoughts: I wonder what the top of that tower looks like on Google Earth
State Quarter it most resembles: New Mexico’s motto “Land of Enchantment” is pretty exotic sounding, but by adding on “Is” to the front of it, Puerto Rico’s not only gets to be more exotic, but gets them more points in Scrabble

DC Coin

District of Columbia

Known for: Mayor once said “Bitch set me up”. Also, capitol of entire nation.
What they put on the quarter instead: Duke Ellington, emphasizing the proud musical heritage of DC, a heritage that came to a screeching halt with the advent of Go-Go
Thoughts: The nickname “Duke” really ought to make a comeback. Also, in the spirit of DC vendors, perhaps they should have gone with a bootleg shirt of Calvin with “Taxation without representation” printed underneath it.
State Quarter it most resembles: Alabama. Putting famous people who lived well into the 20th century is a bold maneuver employed only by DC, Alabama and California (John Muir died in 1914, but his beard lived on into the early 1950s)

MI Coin

Northern Mariana Islands

Known for: Surprising people that it is a US Territory
What they put on the quarter instead: Paradise
Thoughts: Where is this place and how do I get there.
State Quarter it most resembles: Bears an eerie resemblance to Maine, though I doubt the Mariana’s have bone-chilling winters or horror authors who once wrote a short story from the perspective of a castaway who keeps a journal as he slowly eats himself. On second thought, maybe I’ll avoid any island journeys.

VI Coin

US Virgin Islands

Known for: Kicking the British Virgin Islands ass in softball
What they put on the quarter instead: Some crap about pride and hope
Thoughts: Obviously a ploy to downplay the island’s attractiveness to deter Spring Breakers. May as well have printed “Nothing to see here, Arizona State students! Keep moving! The cops at Lake Havasu totally look the other way with drinking!”
State Quarter it most resembles: Bird, tree and flower are all traits shared by Oklahoma and South Carolina. This is where the similarities end, however.

Tags: RiffTrax · state quarters

28 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Krud on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:36 am

    “Where is this place and how do I get there.”

    Ask J.J. Abrams and Matt Lindholf…

  • 2 Krud on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Er, Damon Lindelof. (Google-free reference FAIL.)

  • 3 Conor Lastowka on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Yeah that immediately sprung to mind. Maybe that obelisk/lighthouse thing is missing a toe.

  • 4 Seitz on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Puerto Rico gets major points for the awesome Pixies reference.

  • 5 blablover5 on Oct 7, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Someone call me when the mint runs out of ideas and starts issuing half dollars based around the planets.

    I got a great idea for Jupiter – a picture of a Titan farting.

  • 6 jfruh on Oct 7, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Fun fact: DC really did try to get “Taxation without representation” on their quarter, but the killjoys at the Mint wouldn’t let them.

  • 7 randommanthefirst on Oct 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Oddly, the Puerto Rico building looks like a wang from Google Earth.

  • 8 Earl Fando on Oct 8, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I for one will not be satisfied until we get all the US territories on quarters:

    The Guantanamo Bay quarter: prisoners and palm trees

    The German military bases quarter: Tech Sgt. downing a stein of lager with a plate of schnitzel in front of him.

    The section of Antarctica quarter: Penguins, penguins, penguins!

    The moon quarter: Neil and Buzz, kickin’ it.

  • 9 chrismartindeed on Oct 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

    At the risk of sounding like an elitist, shouldn’t the U.S. Territories be consigned to dimes?

  • 10 Splunge on Oct 8, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Yeah, the moon belongs to America!!!

  • 11 randommanthefirst on Oct 10, 2009 at 3:20 am

    That’s why we bomb it!

  • 12 Wesley Stamper on Oct 10, 2009 at 10:44 am

    If I ran a US Territory I would *totally* make water chestnuts my Official Edible Corm (OEC) and put one on my quarter. That would totally rock.

  • 13 MikeH on Oct 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Well I for one am happy and proud that we put our territories on quarters. It means that actually didn’t forget about them (though I am visibly upset Wake Island was not included) How many other piss-ant countries remember or are proud enough of their territories to put them on their currency. We are saying that “yes you guys in these offbeat places, we didn’t forget you. Though you guys in the Marianas Islands, where the heck are you located??

  • 14 MikeBurgess on Oct 11, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Happy Birthday, Mike Nelson!! Many happy returns.

  • 15 chrismartindeed on Oct 12, 2009 at 4:43 am

    O.K…. better idea: Official State and Territorial 25 Cent Debit Cards. Made from recycled plastic Walmart shopping bags.

    Plenty of room to decorate with art appropriate to the given state or territory. No discrimination based on size or population density.

    I’m sure the little sprats coming to my door this Halloween would gladly take plastic instead of quarters.

  • 16 chrismartindeed on Oct 12, 2009 at 4:48 am

    Have you tried looking for the Marianas with the store locator on the Walmart website?

    I found it to be far more reliable than Mapquest.

  • 17 BEMaven on Oct 12, 2009 at 7:02 am

    His birthday?

    Which State Quarter should we send him? California? Minnesota? Illinois? All three with something sandwiched in between like a Moon Pie?

  • 18 MikeH on Oct 12, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I was also thinking maybe have quarters of places that USED TO BE United States territories, like Phillipines or Canal Zone in Panama.

    I’m still pissed about them ignoring Wake Island

  • 19 Jmaes on Oct 12, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Funniest thing I’ve read since … the State Quarters tournament! Thanks!!!

  • 20 rebisaz on Oct 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I just want to say, as a former Arizona State student myself: good call, US Virgin Islands.

  • 21 Conor Lastowka » Blog Archive » America the Beautiful Quarters on May 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    [...] curious what they were going to slap on the backside of quarters after the State Quarters program petered out with a whimper last year. But then again, they only announced the first five designs less than two months ago, and [...]

  • 22 idea on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    O.K…. better idea: Official State and Territorial 25 Cent Debit Cards. Made from recycled plastic Walmart shopping bags.
    http://www.okkanpo.com/Product/89.html

  • 23 idea on Apr 5, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I was also thinking maybe have quarters of places that USED TO BE United States territories, like Phillipines or Canal Zone in Panama.
    http://www.cheaptojp.com/category-47-b0.html

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