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DC Quarter: Design The Coin, Win A Prize

On this plantation, every once in a great while the overseers toss us a morsel of freedom. We don't get a vote in Congress, but we're permitted to protest our status on our license plates. We're subjected to every whim of any lunatic congressman who has a social experiment in mind that he'd never inflict on his own constituents, but we are allowed to raise our own taxes, and we do so with a vengeance.

Now, in the same year in which Congress rejected once again the idea of the District having representation in the House, we're getting a Christmas gift from the Hill: Washington is going to have its very own quarter, a coin of our own just like the big states got. Except that we get lumped with a bunch of territories that our country bought or took--the likes of Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico. Ouch.

But hey, it's a real quarter--legal tender and all. So now we have to figure out what to put on our quarter. Everybody and his brother is running a contest to see what image ought to be on the back of our coin. The folks at are running an unscientific survey here, but it's got the stench of something put together by editors (sorry, guys, but Tai-Shan the panda, Dan Snyder, the Watergate and the Washington Monument? Shockingly, the panda is not in last place in that survey.)

Here at the big blog, we've got a different approach. You propose the image that ought to be on the new coin. Our crack staff of judges will choose the most creative and persuasive proposal. The winner's image will be given to an artist who will produce a reasonably professional rendering of your idea for the folks over at the Mint--and you will win a very nice version of that artistic rendition.

Here's how to play: Send your entries, in word description or, if you're really ambitious, in image, to We'll collect your entries through January 6th and report back to you soon thereafter.

And just to get things started, here are some ideas floating around the Raw Tank:

A three-pronged arrangement of symbols (three to represent the District, Virginia and Maryland, just as we have three stars on our city flag): A half-smoke, a crack pipe and a flying manhole cover.

A monument of your choice surrounded by Jersey barriers above the slogan "Capital of Cowering."

Chuck Brown presiding over a go-go crowd.

A portrait of sports failure--a football soaring wide of the goal posts, a batter whiffing, a hoopster missing a dunk--all over the slogan "America's Cellar Dweller."

Send your entries today! Vote early and often! Multiple entries permitted! Winner gets fame and fortune (ish)! Operators are standing by! That's

By Marc Fisher |  December 21, 2007; 7:49 AM ET
Previous: 'Great Debaters' Leaves Out D.C. Debaters | Next: Columbia's Poinsettia Tree: The Inside Story


Please email us to report offensive comments.

A profile of Marian Barry with DC's unofficial motto: The B---- Set Me Up!

Posted by: Woodbridge VA | December 21, 2007 8:47 AM

Put a pig on the quarter so the rest of the country knows where all those pork barrel projects come from.

Posted by: Oink! | December 21, 2007 9:17 AM

The Penn Quarter neighborhood already started this discussion on their downtown web site. There are some amusing ideas up there.

I think the Mall is the classic DC scene that should be on the quarter.

Posted by: Penn Quarter junkie | December 21, 2007 9:43 AM

Alfred E. Newman, with "What, me worry?" underneath.

Posted by: Rosslyn, VA | December 21, 2007 9:47 AM

Seems easy: Klingle Road.

Posted by: Rich | December 21, 2007 9:55 AM

Tourist with hands raised
Stick-up man pointing gun

Where Guns Are Outlawed
Only Outlaws Have Guns
Taxation Without Representation

Posted by: Ed Harris | December 21, 2007 10:17 AM

Bob Levey asked for ideas in a column about 10 years ago, and my suggestions to him are the same as my suggestions to you -
- Duke Ellington should be on the coin, a great local hero year in and year out
- cut the snark - in his case he was happily making snnarky suggestions about somehow memorializing screechy Metro train brakes.

As a matter of interest, he did reprint my Duke Ellington suggestion, but was silent on the cut the snark suggestion.

Posted by: Erstwhile Levey Fan | December 21, 2007 10:24 AM

Wow, if Bob Levy printed your suggestions then you must be pretty important...

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2007 10:33 AM

Well, my head has been twice as big since that happened!!
Wow, if Bob Levy printed your suggestions then you must be pretty important...

Posted by: | December 21, 2007 10:33 AM

Posted by: Erstwhile Levey Fan | December 21, 2007 10:38 AM

How about a picture of that "Taxation without Representation" liscence plate?

Posted by: David S | December 21, 2007 10:46 AM

Do the state quarters portray actual people? I may be wrong, but I thought most of them portrayed a landmark or a scene from that state and not individual people.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | December 21, 2007 10:55 AM

Do the state quarters portray actual people?

Posted by: Arlington, VA | December 21, 2007 10:55 AM

A number of them do. Lincoln, Helen Keller, the Wright Bros. come to mind. You can see the rest here:

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | December 21, 2007 11:05 AM

Mayor Barry astride a panda galloping along the National Mall with a half-smoke in one hand and a TEC-9 in the other.

Posted by: athea | December 21, 2007 11:07 AM

Wilbur Mills doing a dog paddle in the Tidal Basin.

Marion Barry snorting coke.

A bunch of tourists wearing incredibly ugly clothes -- shorts, Hawaiian shirts, thongs, and even bathing suits while touring national monuments.

A White House intern kneeling in front of Bill Clinton.

A pair of Presidential knee pads and a beret.

A disabled Metro train.

Profiles of an elephant and a donkey butting heads.

Posted by: TGIF | December 21, 2007 11:38 AM

Ha - thanks athea...that's the funniest thing I've heard (pictured) all day!

Posted by: Rosslyn | December 21, 2007 11:47 AM

How about Marlene Chalmers Cooke in her Jaguar, with her male "friend" clinging to the hood?

Posted by: frenchyb | December 21, 2007 11:57 AM

A gridlocked intersection.

A city rat the size of a Rottweiler.

A hypodermic needle and bottle cap on the backseat of a limousine.

It's chow time -- I'm going to lunch.

Posted by: TGIF | December 21, 2007 12:03 PM

A parking meter with a "broken meter" sign taped to it and a car windshield in the background with a ticket under the wiper.

Posted by: NoVa | December 21, 2007 12:14 PM

A mob at 'Human Kindness Day' assaulting innocent people.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2007 1:39 PM

1) Marion Barry
2) Chuck Brown
3) A Carry-Out
4) Marvin Gaye
5) Go-Go Music
6) All DC Mayors, Washington, Barry, Kelly, Williams, and your highness Fenty
7) Something to do with the Redskins
8) Crowded Metro Train
9) the Mall
10) Cherry Blossoms

Posted by: Southeast | December 21, 2007 1:53 PM

I think the quarter should be split into 4 distinct areas: one really nice and shiny and the other three completely ignored.

Posted by: NE | December 21, 2007 2:31 PM

Words only:

Don't blame us, you guys elected these bozos without our help!

Posted by: mikes | December 21, 2007 2:47 PM

Marion Barry taking a hit from a crack pipe.

John Riggins passed out under the table, with Sandra Day O'Connor looking on in horror.

A motorcade causing traffic gridlock.

A Presidential Press Secretary giving a press conference, with his/her pants on fire.

A lobbyist giving money to a Member of Congress.

A lawyer waving a subpoena.

Ronald Reagan announcing, "Mistakes were made."

Bush 41 saying, "I was out of the loop."

Bill Clinton pointing his finger and saying, "I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

Bill Clinton saying, "It all depends on what your definition of 'is' is."

A smirking Bush 43 holding a 500 pound bomb with the slogan, "In God we trust. All others pay cash."

Richard Nixon with arms extended in the double V-for-Victory pose, saying, "I am not a crook."

A portrait of the late, great Root Boy Slim, boogeying but not puking, while wearing his trademark ROOT glasses.

A line of protitutes being herded across the 14th Street Bridge by Metropolitan Police.

A traffic ticket on a windshield.

A car with a Denver Boot.

Posted by: Mister Methane | December 21, 2007 2:56 PM

Elizabeth Ray sitting behind a typewriter, winking.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2007 3:21 PM

Roy Pearson holding a pair of pants.

Posted by: Where my Pants??! | December 21, 2007 3:50 PM

Two huge rats, one representing the mayor and one representing the DC council, blind-folded, standing knee-deep in horse manure, stabbing each other in the back. With the motto, "Stupid is as DC does."

Posted by: hisroc | December 21, 2007 3:57 PM

Mark Plotkin, mouth wide open, spewing statehood inanities in front of a microphone.

Posted by: Mister Methane | December 21, 2007 4:36 PM

For once I'll be non-cynical --

A block of classic DC rowhouses, kids on the street, the Washington Monument back in the distance, with "Taxation Without Representation" somewhere to get across the idea that DC is just a normal city except for its lack of a vote.

But I would happily support Duke Ellington if my idea doesn't fly.

Posted by: ArtC | December 21, 2007 8:37 PM

I like the Duke Ellington idea; perhaps superimpose his image over a scene of U Street in its heyday.

(BTW, the coin really shouldn't have anything Redskins-related, since the team practices in Virginia and plays in Maryland. If the coin were to have a sports motif, how about images of Walter Johnson and Josh Gibson superimposed over Griffith Stadium?)

Posted by: Vincent | December 22, 2007 9:53 AM

"Ha - thanks athea...that's the funniest thing I've heard (pictured) all day!

Posted by: Rosslyn | December 21, 2007 11:47 AM"

I second this idea. Well done athea!

Posted by: johng1 | December 22, 2007 1:33 PM

I submitted my design suggestion of
the tower of the Smithsonian castle, circumscribed by the almost-diamond shaped outline of DC.

It will be interesting to see what things people submit for real.


Posted by: Rick Pike | December 23, 2007 5:19 PM

I say the DC Flag and taxation without representation. Since DC is not a state, the rule banning "state flags" should be irrelevant, and it would get the point across.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 26, 2007 9:34 AM

Picture of the finger-pointing Uncle Sam, from the famous WWII recruiting poster ("I want YOU for the US ARMY!) with recruiting text below changed to "No vote for YOU!", a la the Seinfeld Vote-Nazi.

Posted by: citizenw | December 26, 2007 3:24 PM

Gotta leave federal property out of the picture and represent only DC. That leave only the failure that is DC!

Posted by: Keep it real | December 27, 2007 8:08 PM

How about a $400 car with $2400 wheel covers, running over a pedestrian?

Posted by: Enough of this | December 28, 2007 10:55 AM

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