March 28, 2008

New Mexico quarter to debut

New Mexico went with the safe choice on its state quarter: a symbol that many people probably don't realize is Indian. Here's the story:

New Mexico's quarter to circulate April 7The commission received just over 1,000 suggestions, Khan said. The Mint required that recommendations be sent in as narratives, rather than as drawings, to get more participation.

The seven-member coin commission decided the design should incorporate the two most popular suggestions—the Zia and New Mexico's landscape, Khan said.

Some people wanted specific landscapes, such as the Sandia Mountains or Shiprock, or specific sites, such as Taos Pueblo or the Palace of the Governors, Khan said. Other suggestions were more general "about the beauty of the landscape," he said.

"The commission shied away from (showing) one thing. It's hard to have one thing represent the whole state," Khan said.
Comment:  "Hard to have one thing represent the whole state"? Maybe, but many states managed it. The Statue of Liberty for New York. The Gateway Arch for Missouri. Crater Lake for Oregon. Etc.

Let's think about the alternatives for New Mexico's quarter a moment. First visualize everything you know about New Mexico. Then consider how it would work on a quarter:

  • Taos Pueblo:  A world-famous image as well a World Heritage Site. Arguably the only image many people could identify as New Mexican.

  • Shiprock:  Not as well known, but arguably the most famous geographic formation in New Mexico. Part of the Navajo Nation.

  • Chaco Canyon:  Not as well known as Taos, but another World Heritage Site.

  • Los Alamos:  Difficult to represent in one image.

  • Santa Fe:  Difficult to represent in one image.

  • White Sands National Monument:  Difficult to represent in one image.

  • Sandia Mountains:  Too generic and unknown outside New Mexico.

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park:  Also a World Heritage Site, but an underground scene wouldn't represent New Mexico well.

  • Palace of the Governors:  Totally unknown outside New Mexico.

  • Zia symbol:  Acceptable and inoffensive because it's already on New Mexico's flag.

  • Hmm. Looks to me like the three best choices were Indian-specific. I wonder what New Mexico's Anglos and Latinos, often at odds with their predecessors, would've thought about choosing one of these. Perhaps that's why the commission "shied away" from showing one (Indian) thing.

    Other World Heritage Sites on US quarters include the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite. New Mexico has three World Heritage Sites, tops in the US, but none were chosen to represent the state. "Yeah, we wouldn't want to make the sites jealous of each other. Let's pick something that isn't as famous or important as them."

    For my previous thoughts on the subject, see The Safe, White State Quarters.

    1 comment:

    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    Why not, "New Mexico -- Land Of Entrapment...?"
    All Best
    Russ Bates