25 (cents) for the Old Line State Md. quarters: State House dome highlights commemorative coin, but obscure slogan may baffle collectors.

June 06, 1999

WHEN Maryland's new commemorative quarter starts turning up in Americans' change in March, some will be baffled as they try to decipher the slogan accompanying the outline of the State House dome in Annapolis.

"The Old Line State"?

It could prompt a new trivial pursuit around the office. What does that expression, on the quarter's reverse side, signify?

Indeed, most Marylanders won't understand why Gov. Parris N. Glendening picked that slogan to represent this state to the rest of the nation.

We can understand picking a rendering of the State House -- it's the oldest working state legislative building in the country, the only one used as this nation's Capitol (1783-1784) and the largest wooden structure of its kind in North America.

Yet Americans will have trouble linking this dome with Maryland. The Star-Spangled Banner, Fort McHenry, the Chesapeake Bay and the Oriole (the state bird -- and its baseball counterpart, too) are all more readily identifiable with this state.

And why use that obscure slogan? It harks back to George Washington's comment about the 1st Maryland Regiment and its reliability during the defense of New York in the Revolutionary War. It's in the history books. You can look it up. But not in your Bartlett's.

Give the governor an A for offering Americans a brief history lesson when they glance at their Maryland quarters next spring. But as a promotional vehicle for this state, Mr. Glendening's quarter design doesn't win high marks.

Pub Date: 6/06/99

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