Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Brother, can you spare a quarter?

The above graphic is the design chosen for South Dakota's commemorative quarter.

The Commemorative Quarter program is extremely cool. It promotes interest in our currency, fertilizes state pride, enlivens history, gives something for coin collectors to get excited about.

However, a sadvertising reader made a commentary on the coin program's design-work as, "...poorly conceptualized and embarrassingly crude, almost childish in excecution." Strong words, but unfortunately, he's got a point or two.

Take the South Dakota coin above. Appreciating the challenges of reproducing figures in metal relief, I'm sure the artist could give Thomas a little more mouth definition. Right now, it looks like he's getting ready to blow puke down the hill.

The Connecticut "Charter Oak" is rather stark - those who don't know the history of Connecticut's "Charter Oak", are left with only one assumption - the most notable thing about Connecticut is a dead tree.

Florida's coin is rather mysterious - old ship arrives, lands on the beach, then a spaceship leaves. Remember the movie Cocoon where all the old people get whisked off a retirement community by a UFO? According to the coin, Florida might well be a giant New Age space port for its burgeoning retirement community.

"Cows, cheese, corn - FORWARD!" I can hear those words rising up from schoolyard football games all across Wisconsin. Of course, Wisconsin's slogan is "Forward". But coupled with the graphics, all I can think of is, "Backward."

Oh well. The designers of these coins had to work with committees, focus groups and sacred cows of so many people - it's a testimony to the quality of the idea that even if the artwork is cheesy (WI), it's still cool.