First off, I'm going to make fun of myself a little bit. I intended to go in alphabetical order rather than the order in which these quarters were issued, and for awhile it went swimmingly. There was Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona. And then I apparently decided to trust in my knowledge of the states and determine that Colorado was the next one. Yep, no way anything else could be between Arizona and Colorado. They even share that border at the corner. So I guess it's time to move on to Connecticut and--Ohhhh, right. Sorry about that, California. I'll get started right away on finding out who the hell John Muir is and why you seem to be emulating a Wyoming park instead of bringing in some redwoods or the Golden Gate Bridge or something. So, John Muir was--
Oh come on, you too? Geez, is there any other state hiding out there? No? All right, good. Let's start to plug this gap.
Holy crowding the image, Batman. Do you really need to cram all of these state symbols onto your quarter? You're like those people who just can't go on vacation without eight suitcases because you need that extra set of slippers and your favorite mug. But all right, I guess Arkansas is adequately represented by a riverbank, rice, duck, and...a giant floating diamond?
Maybe Arkansas is trying to drum up tourism by suggesting that enormous diamonds are just floating around in the sky. Or that diamonds appearing at the same size as that on the quarter are there. After all, Arkansas is one of the rare places in North America where diamonds are found and apparently the only place where tourists can get in on the game by hunting through Crater of Diamonds State Park. No wait! That's the ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, right? They must have gotten lost on their way to Devil's Rock and are asking the Arkansans for help.
"Devil's Rock? Yeah, it's back the way you came." (148apps.com)
The quarter was designed by Dortha Scott in a contest opened to all Arkansans in 2002 and the 65-year-old Mount Ida resident's idea was chosen from a field of 9,300 entries. She was also recognized in one of those droll resolutions someone in the state legislatures writes up to draw out a simple congratulations as long as possible and perhaps collect royalties on the word "whereas." This gushes about the use of a duck "soaring above the water with trees in the background [symbolizing] Arkansas' abundant natural resources," then goes on to say that it represents the state's popularity for hunting and fishing. Perhaps the Arkansas quarter has a tiny engraved hunter hiding in the side ridge, just waiting to blast the majestic mallard with buckshot.
Scott rejected this particular design (wikipedia.org)
To be fair, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee did favor symbolism in his choice of a winning design. The other finalists all sought to awkwardly cram the same things into an outline of the state, and specified that Arkansas was the "Natural State" to boot since a bunch of symbols of the natural world couldn't quite carry that out. Or there was the mockingbird perched above the Arkansas State Capitol, which seemed like less a celebration of nature and more a distress call of "Help! Giant birds are usurping our state government!"
It's an OK design overall, I suppose. And hey, at least the whole thing involved a submission by an independent artist and not by Arkansas's corporate overlord.
"Our headquarters are here, ergo we demand use of our logo on the head side of the state quarters! LOGIC." (wypages.com)