Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: One Horrible State Quarter

Just keeping it real, folks. I'll almost universally praise my home state of Wisconsin in this series, but I have to be honest and admit that our commemorative state quarter was, to put it kindly, a lost opportunity to not just stereotype ourselves.

Take a look. If we really were just trying to highlight Wisconsin industries, there was no reason to include both the head of a cow and also a piece of cheese. And then, to just throw in an ear of corn to boot! Folks, three redundant symbols of agriculture kind of makes the motto "Forward" look a little ridiculous!

Let me be very clear. I am not attributing this catastrophe to its engraver Alfred Maletsky. Mr. Maletsky is a talented artist who also produced the New Jersey, New York, and Missouri quarters. He was just doing his job. The symbols he carved are beautiful.

The shape of Wisconsin is so recognizable, it should certainly have been the primary feature. And then, if you wanted to represent industry, I would have picked the cheese, and then, even though many would protest, a mug of beer. And then, perhaps a pickaxe to symbolize the importance of mining in Wisconsin, especially early in her history. And there certainly should have been a pine tree, to symbolize the great significance of the paper industry in the North.

Here are two "almost made the cut" designs, neither of which, in my opinion, is really any better than the abomination we ended up with. First off, we have one on the theme "Early Exploration." If we had gone with this, there would have been understandable criticism that one of these early explorers didn't ultimately care for the changes the other one brought.

Finally, here is another contender on the theme "Scenic Wisconsin." When people find out I'm from Wisconsin, they have, at times, asked if we have sidewalks there. This quarter design certainly wouldn't have done our reputation any favors. We've got here the animal we try not to hit with our cars, looking out over a scene that could really be anywhere in the US that has a barn and a river.

So, that's my twenty-five cents worth on the topic.

Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.

Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 

Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.