When you think of Illinois, what comes to mind? Cornfields? Lincoln? Chicago? All three of these are represented on the Illinois state quarter.
When the US Mint first starting doing the state quarters in 1999, I was excited to see how Illinois would be represented by 2003. Boy, what a disappointment. We have a mish-mash design.
Phil Huckleberry unpacks the mess of the design of the Illinois quarter:
Thematically what the quarter seems to represent is that Illinois is both the rural and the urban, unified via the singular figure of Abraham Lincoln. But even in an attempt to unify Chicago and the rest of the state, the design serves to literally separate things. The thing is, at the time, Abraham Lincoln was arguably the most divisive man in Illinois. And, of course, he was do divisive nationally that, after his election, states literally seceded from the Union. Illinois pre-1860 was hardly some sort of coherent, unified construct. Since its very inception, Illinois has been bound by tension... the reality is that Illinois formed as a mess of confusing, conflicting regions.
Great points on how this coin illustrates the divisiveness in Illinois. On the coin, Lincoln’s position does separate the rural and urban. If they wanted to have this mishmash, maybe Lincoln could have been off to the side looking over at a farm field flow into an urban landscape. Again, that would have been too much for a coin.
Just stick a nice illustration of an ear of corn on the quarter, and let it be a simple design. Then again, is Illinois #1 in corn production in America? Oh wait. That’s Iowa.
Just what is Illinois #1 in? *Googling: Illinois is number one in*
Illinois is #1 in pumpkin production
Illinois ranks first in pumpkin production. It’s not even close. By far, we produce the most pumpkins.
Imagine a nice round pumpkin filling up the back of the Illinois quarter. That would have been beautiful. In October the Illinois pumpkin quarter would be really popular to fill up Halloween baskets. Even though people don’t traditionally give money at Halloween, if there was a quarter with a giant pumpkin on it, I’m betting people might toss in a couple quarters into a bag of candy they give to nieces and nephews.
Imagine all official Illinois materials featuring pumpkins. License plates, state flag, drivers license. Oh, but what would happen to Abe Lincoln? Sorry, Abe, you have been replaced by a PUMPKIN. Wait. Maybe Abe could be HOLDING A PUMPKIN. Or maybe the pumpkin face could be carved to look like Abe Lincoln. That wouldn’t be creepy, right?
(By the way, since Illinois produces so many pumpkins, I really do hope that pumpkins are cheaper in Illinois.)
Illinois is #1 in horseradish production
Illinois is also the #1 producer of horseradish. No other state comes close. We have more than 1800 acres of horseradish. The #2 state Pennsylvania has 8 acres. Even though a horseradish would be a fun quirky item to have on a coin, it doesn’t resonate the same way that a pumpkin does.
Illinois is #1 in soybean production
Illinois is also currently the #1 soybean producer. But Iowa’s annual 501.5 M bu of soybeans is pretty close to Illinois’ 532.4 (2019 stats). Besides, I can’t even picture what a soybean plant looks like. Although it would be kinda fun to just have a giant pile of round soybeans on a coin. It would make for a nice tactile coin.
Coins are mean to be held. To be touched. A great example of a tactile coin is theConnecticut state quarter. Without even looking at this quarter, you can feel that it’s the the Connecticut state quarter.
If we put a pile of soybeans on our quarter, it would look very abstract, but maybe in an interesting way.