The B1G List: Ranking the State Quarters of the Big Ten

By Johnny Ginter on July 29, 2013 at 4:00p
The B1G List: Ranking the State Quarters of the Big Ten


In 1971, Woody Hayes' good friend Richard Nixon nixed (do ho ho) the Bretton Woods system, which had tied the value of US currency to the gold standard, and instead made US currency a fiat currency that was tied to various governmental policies and laws. Essentially, you could no longer legally exchange your money for its stated value in gold. ...Well, unless you count just straight up buying gold, and that's pretty much the same thing now that I think about it.

You know what, I'm not an economist (although I am technically licensed by the state of Ohio to teach economics to 7-12th graders. Chew on that, parents of teenagers), but I did have one of those foldout maps of the United States with little slots where you could put the quarters of each state as they rolled out. Three things I want to point out about that:

1. Thanks grandma, you have an extremely nerdy grandson and know exactly how to pander to him.

2. I had a friend who actually completed one of these things. In 2000. Like 7 years before they finished the series. He accomplished this by putting regular quarters in for the states that hadn't been released yet, which is actually brilliant because the three seconds it would take to verify this ruse is about 2.5 seconds longer than the average person is willing to spend looking at a map of state quarters.

3. Value of said completed map is like 13 bucks, including the cheap cardboard.

Anyway, state quarters! Let's rank some, keeping in mind that the US mint has started a whole new series of quarters with flashier and presumably much sexier pictures, which I'll be taking into consideration. John Muir is hot and all, but maybe this go around they'll let Helen Keller show a little leg.

11. Maryland

Maryland's state quarter

Maryland definitely wins the award for "most messed up perspective of what should be a relatively simple building." It also touts its status as the "Old Line State," which actually has nothing to do with the Mason-Dixson line, so put away the torches and pitchforks you Yankees. Maryland is a strong, upstanding state full of virtue and moral authority. For you see, "Old Line" refers back to when the male citizens of Maryland stood in a proud line on election day, shoulder to shoulder, to prevent women from voting after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Then I think they started chanting something anti-semetic, I'm not sure. All I know is, the dudes started kicking dogs and making fun of the homeless and then things got really bad.

10. Indiana

Indiana's state quarter

Still stuck on that "Crossroads of America" thing, huh?

Yeah cool, you added a racecar to your quarter. Guess what, we're not all five anymore.

Your cheap tricks will not impress me, state quarter of Indiana. Unless you added a dinosaur, or a sharknado or something. Then yeah, that'd actually be pretty badass.


9. Wisconsin

Wisconsin's state quarter

"Oh hey guys, don't mind us, just inserting every single Midwestern stereotype into our sate quarter.

"No, we do not have any sense of dignity or self-worth. Look, cow, cheese, corn, crippling depression, meth, a strong moral foundation of not being a douchebag, football, the thousand yard stare that comes from a lifetime of manual labor and the knowledge that crippling arthritis and five back surgeries was just BARELY worth making sure that your children only are inheriting five thousand dollars in debt rather than seven thousand dollars in debt. Wait, we're only allowed three?

"Well can you at least give the cow a creepy smile? Okay good."

8. Nebraska

Nebraska's state quarter

Wow, Chimney Rock. Mother Earth's gross calcified mole we're not supposed to look at because she gets mad. Also an Oregon Trail location, and since I don't know too much about it personally, maybe we can ask the locals for help.

Sweet. Hey, do you have any wagon axles you can trade?


7. Iowa

Iowa's state quarter

On one hand, as a teacher I really enjoy that Iowa decided to illustrate its important educational history to the country via currency. There's a neat little statement to be made in the idea that knowledge equals value more than cash money does, no matter what Wu-Tang says. The Midwest has historically had a somewhat unusually strong adherence to education, especially secondary and post-secondary education, so this is pretty cool.

But wait, who's that Grant Wood guy?

Well guess what, turns out that he's the dude who did American Gothic, and while that's a great work of art that I enjoy, this quarter has nothing to do with education at all. Instead it's supposed to be a representation of Wood's artwork, which is even dumber because I don't think there are that many hills in the entire state. Very disappointing.

6. Minnesota

Minnesota's state quarter

Once again, Minnesota sells itself short by claiming to be the land of 10,000 lakes, when in fact is has 11,842 lakes that are 10 acres or larger.

Maybe "Land of 11,842 Lakes" doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well, but dammit, it's accurate.

Plus, Wikipedia says that means the state has more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined. Which is awesome as long as you don't think too hard about which of those beaches you'd rather eat some fish tacos on.

5. Indi-waaaaaiiitt


Nice try, jerks.

5. Michigan

Michigan's state quarter

A confession: I just got back from a vacation in Michigan. Yes, try-hards, I spent money in that state up north and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lake Michigan at this time of year is fantastic, and coupled with a little canoeing and a lot of go-karting, it was a pretty baller time overall. So honestly, after giving in to the exhortations of Tim Allen and experiencing Pure Michigan, I get why they're so pumped about those lakes.

But Lake Erie is ours.


4. Illinois

Illinois' state quarter

"Land of Lincoln" is a pretty great state nickname, which the Illinois state quarter took to its logical conclusion by depicting a gigantic Abraham Lincoln striding across the state, on his way to court to defend a 50 foot tall woman who in a fit of rage crushed her abusive husband to death under a comically oversized pickle jar.

3. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's state quarter

This quarter is great for more than a few reasons. First, it recalls Pennsylvania's Civil War heritage which honestly I feel it should be trumpeting just as hard as it does its Revolutionary War heritage. The Keystone State was one of the Big Three states that really contributed the lion's share of the effort to defeat the south in the Civil War, right up there with Ohio and New York.

Secondly, it totally looks like that soldier is going to bludgeon someone in the head with the butt of his rifle. No fancy pants bayonet for him!

Thirdly, this year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, meaning that the quarter is in high demand for short sighted/elderly coin collectors, a demographic that unsurprisingly intersects with Civil War buffs. So if you happen to have a bunch and live near old people... well, watch your pockets. Decades of lenient court punishments have given the elderly some sticky fingers.

2. New Jersey

New Jersey's state quarter

It's pretty easy to forget that Trenton, New Jersey, is the location of one of the more important events in US history. You know, because it's such a craphole.

But before it was a craphole George Washington crossed the Delaware River there so surprise some Hessian mercenaries to win his first battle in the Revolutionary War, which is depicted in both a famous painting and in this quarter (a pocket sized-version of said famous painting).

After completing the crossing on that frozen night in 1776, Washington was heard to remark "Man I really hope this place doesn't end up being one of the most dangerous and segregated medium sized cities in the United States and turns into a big craphole."

1. Ohio

Ohio's state quarter

I had a hard time deciding between the old coin and the new one. The old coin is pretty cool, because it includes no small amount of trolling of North Carolina (tl;dr version: North Carolina calls themselves "first in flight," which is like the canvas taking credit for the Mona Lisa) by depicting both the Wright brother's plane and an astronaut.

But being the history guy that I am, I have to go with Perry's Victory quarter here. The Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812 was huge for Ohio because not only did it turn back a British invasion of our precious soil, but it was the first time in the entire history of the British Navy that a whole squadron had been forced to surrender.

Oliver Hazard Perry earned both a Congressional Medal of Honor and that awesome strut shown on the quarter, not in the least because the dude was all of twenty-seven years old when he faced down the best navy in the world and won.

And that does it for this week. We are getting precariously close to football season, so maybe it's time that we started getting a little more sports-centric. Next week we'll look at the best athletes by state, which more accurately will be "best athletes by state assuming I find them on Wikipedia." See you then.

The B1G List: State Birds | State Mottos | State FlowersState Songs | State Fossils | State Flags | TV Shows | State Trees | State Capitals | State Fish | Highest Points | State Gemstones/Rocks


Comments Show All Comments

AndyVance's picture

Perry was a badass. Well done, Professor Ginter. Bonus points for the Gettysburg and Oregon Trail references.
...and, not to be a total history nerd, but I thought Mike Vrabel crossed the Delaware, not George Washington...

Earle's picture

I thought that looked familiar...

Snarkies gonna snark. 

AcrossTheField11's picture

I thought this was the Ohio Quarter...

Cool either way.  Put in Bay is a fun place to spend a summer weekend and Oliver Hazard Perry was one BAMF.  Don't give up the ship.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

AcrossTheField11's picture

Nevermind I'm an idiot... Newer flashier quarters.  It pays to read the whole article. 
Thanks... this is one of the most interesting B1G lists yet!

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

Nick's picture

Yeah that's the first edition 2002 as you can see the other is a new version.

ArTbkward's picture

Sooo, I not so secretly wish the sharknado was on Indiana's fake quarter.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

brband64's picture

That may be the most effeminate T-Rex ever; it appears to be very upset after its soufflé fell.

Outstanding write-up.

"Maybe the Big Ten is not that bad. Maybe it's pretty damn good.'' ~ Urban Meyer

Hovenaut's picture


I thought it was celebrating Coach Crean's Hustlin' Hoosiers cuttin' down some nets last season.

Philly White's picture

Confirmation: Trenton is terrible. 
Iowa City was surprisingly hilly, though.

AndyVance's picture

Iowa is actually very hilly... I was surprised when I made my first trip out there, because (like Professor Ginter) I believed that Iowa was a flat, land-locked state much like Kansas. Instead, it is a very rolling terrain - beautiful countryside, really.

MN Buckeye's picture

Depends on where in Iowa you are.  Easter Iowa is beautiful, rolling hills.  Western Iowa is too much like Nebraska.  Try driving through Des Moines in the winter.

CALPOPPY's picture

I really like Easter, Iowa as well. But isn't it funny that you have to go through Good Friday, Iowa before Palm Sunday, Iowa in order to get there? Because usually Good Friday is after Palm Sunday.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

jvd253's picture

With a wife from the Kansas suburbs of KC, I can assure you, sir, that (a small sliver of) Kansas is most certainly not flat. 

"A guy from Ohio can make it in life if he works hard enough." - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

AndyVance's picture

I LOVE Kansas City - great city, great downtown area (after the recent gentrification) amazing BBQ and STEAKS, and I've recently discovered The Plaza area, which was really pretty and classy. Strangely, I always think of Kansas City in purely Missouri terms, though.

jvd253's picture

That's most certainly fair.  Most of the locals do too.  Upvote for you, sir. 

"A guy from Ohio can make it in life if he works hard enough." - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Citrus's picture

I am with you on the ridiculousness of NC's "First in Flight." I've always said it would be like Hiroshima: First in Atomic Energy!

Your Mona Lisa reference is better and less offensive.

Ethos's picture

Just FYI, having now lived in Davenport, IA for 4.5 years now, I can tell you there are plenty of hills in Iowa.  Something I was both shocked, and relieved to find when I moved here.
 Illinois along I-80 on the other hand, is the most boring god-awful drive in the history of mankind (in 2nd place is I-88, also Illinois except you pay for the terrible drive), so President Lincoln probably fell asleep halfway across.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

steensn's picture

Whew I almost thought Ohio might not make #1 this time... good too see we objectively win again.

William's picture

Great read Johnny. That Perry quarter is fantastic. 

It's also of note that abandoning the Bretton Woods system was easily the worst thing Nixon did during his presidency, and that's kind of saying a lot. 

MuraliPatel's picture

I would liked to have seen William Sherman's visage on the quarter to troll SEC country a little bit.

NCBuckeye1's picture

Dang it Johnny! Just because the Wright Brothers were born in some backwoods, hole-in-the-wall town in the middle of a cornfield in Ohio does not mean that you get to claim flight! That honor is and forever will be North Carolina's by default!
*Dodges all of the down-votes*
Well, ok, you guys win...Ohio is pretty awesome, but so is North Carolina! We have...umm, uhh...a really tall mountain, and umm...oh, it's only 6500 ft?...
Well, we are the home of tobacco and cigarettes! Long live lung cancer...I mean, uhh...thats not good either.
Fine, Ohio wins.

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -- Woody

AndyVance's picture

In fairness to N.C., Research Triangle Park is pretty hardcore, particularly when it comes to the concentration of agriscience headquartered in the region. Some of the biggest players in the seed and crop protection industries have massive brain trusts in RTP. So, when it comes to feeding the world, North Carolina has that going for it (and lots of really cool hog farms, too).

NCBuckeye1's picture

RTP sucks...I am from the original triangle in North Carolina, the Piedmont Triad!
Also, my high school was named after R.J. Reynolds...that is all.

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -- Woody

William's picture

I grew up in North Carolina, and it has two things going for it, the Appalachian Mountains and the Outer Banks. Pretty good stuff if you ask me. 

NCBuckeye1's picture

This would be a way better for the Indiana quarter...

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -- Woody

DannyBeane's picture

As an air and space enthusiast I've had a grudge against North Carolina for years. First in flight? Who was this North Carolinian that was the first to fly? Oh wait it was the Wright brothers? The brothers that are from my hometown of Dayton Ohio? STFU North Carolina. Your state slogan should be North Carolina "We have decent wind!" 

William's picture

North Carolina: "We've got dunes brah"

MN Buckeye's picture

Minnesota has over 15,000 lakes of 10 acres or larger, but everyone is too understated to admit it.

Nicholas Jervey's picture

Dinosaur racecars is a dynamite idea. Dinosaur racecars with Dinosaur Comics dinosaurs: the 21st century's greatest invention.

Ceci n'est pas une signature.

iball's picture

Ohio #1?? What a homer

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Buckeyeneer's picture

Perry's Monument is on the new quarter? About time the federal government recognized the awesomeness of Put-In-Bay.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

DaytonBuck1980's picture

Great write up Johnny. The funniest list thus far! 

Still not giving a damn for the whole state of Michigan. 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Love it!  Ohio wins again!!!
Go Bucks!!

pjtobin's picture

Come let's sing Ohio's praise.......Cause we kick butt. That's why!!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

GoBucks10's picture

As fantastic as Perry shaming the British Navy is, I still prefer the old Ohio quarter...because airplane.

"Because I couldn't go for three."  - Woody Hayes

CALPOPPY's picture

I made much laughter during my ocular perusal of this piece. Good show, Mr. Ginter.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Haybucks's picture

I thought Indiana had a natural fit for a state quarter, but they chose a race car and a bunch of filler instead of just a plain a basketball.  Using their design and adding basketballs and your Dinosaur suggestion, I come up with this version...

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Johnny Ginter's picture

ahahahah JESUS

BED's picture

This may be the best sentence I've ever read:

North Carolina calls themselves "first in flight," which is like the canvas taking credit for the Mona Lisa

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009