25 cent

So yesterday the United States Mint unveiled the Alabama quarter. I'm sure you've seen these, for the last four years the United States Mint has produced a special quarter for each state, they're doing five states a year, following the chronological order in which the states were admitted into the Union. As Alabama was the 22nd state admitted to the Union, it's the 22nd quarter released in the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters ® Program.

This makes me excited, not just because I'm an amateur numismatist geek, but because my home state of Maine was the 23rd state admitted to the Union. Maine's next!

See, Maine was admitted into the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise on March 15, 1820. The south wanted a slave state (Missouri), so we got our independence from Massachusetts. Yay!

Anyway, the Maine quarter design is pretty simple - it's the Pemaquid Point Light atop a granite coast with a schooner in the background.

The winning design.

"Hahahaha!!!!! You dumb bastard! It's not a schooner! It's a sailboat!"

"A schooner is a sailboat, stupid head."

Sorry, Mallrats flashback there. Anyway, back in March of 2001 Maine Governor Angus King established the Commission on the Maine State Quarter Design. They reviewed lots of concepts before choosing three for recommendation. Governor King added a fourth concept to the three concepts the Commission recommended and forwarded them to the United States Mint. They included "Nation's First Light," Mt. Katahdin, "Where America's Day Begins," and the winning lighthouse at Pemaquid Point.

The three runners up.

I guess there was some controversy about how the Mint's engraving staff changed the original designs. Brian Kent, of Gardiner, Maine, designed the Mount Katahdin quarter. He even went so far as to use the original Penobscot spelling of "Ktaadn". Crazy. See, Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine at 5,267 feet, is at the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. In addition to a view of the mountain, the design depicts a Wabanaki Indian birchbark canoe and a white pine. It's a very Maine scene.

But the staff at the Mint radically changed the design of the quarter. Kent said that the Mint's retooling is "insulting" and that "it's [the design] an abomination, frankly." He has problems with the pine trees, the canoe, the shoreline, and, most especially, the mountain's distinctive peak. And he's right. The original designs look better to me.

The original designs of Mount Katahdin and Pemaquid Point

But Katahdin wasn't even chosen. The design that was, however, was also altered significantly.

Daniel J. Carr of Colorado submitted the Pemaquid Point design, in collaboration with Maine residents Leland and Carolyn Pendleton. He collaborated because the design guidelines state: "Applicants must be part or full-time residents of Maine. Artists may apply as individuals, design teams, and partnerships, including groups of students."

But he's kind of a professional at this - Carr designed the 2001 New York and Rhode Island State quarters as well.

The Mint also altered Carr's design, placing the lighthouse on a high, rocky cliff. The real Pemaquid Point lighthouse is not. Critics also feel that the Mint's redesign alters the schooner from the original design based on the Victory Chimes schooner.

I think it's pretty cool that the Mint is doing this. Sure, I see how it'll make them lots of money in uncirculated cash, but it's neat. It's just too bad they're pissing off the very states that they're trying to celebrate.

Either way, I'm psyched. Maine's next!

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Last Updated on: March 25, 2003

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