San Francisco has a lot of penny smashers, so many in fact, that I had to break up my San Francisco pages. This page features general SF locations. I also have pages for Chinatown and North Beach and for penny smasher heaven, Fisherman's Wharf. Somehow, I don't think I'll ever find them all.
"San Francisco Zoo" This is a new one out at the zoo, and the amazing thing about it is that I got it myself. Woody and I went out there for a meeting with the zoo director. Oh shucks I lost my train of thought, anyway the machine is near the new entrance.
"San Francisco/Sacramento National EC Meet - April 26, 2003" Les Holbrook had these made up for us. We had a great time there were about 25 of us together in Golden Gate Park. Brad Ream engraved and rolled the coin.
I like this one of a San Francisco Cable Car, but heck if I know where I got it. I'm a big loser.
"California Academy of Sciences" When I was a kid, we always just called this "The Aquarium". Right now, August 2004, the old aquarium is being torn down and a new one is being built.
"California Academy of Sciences" One of the big attractions for me as kid going to the Aquarium was to see the 2 headed snake. It was in the alligator hall right inside the front door, which, umm, was inside the courtyard behind the newer hall with the big dinosaur skeleton... oh nevermind. It's all different now.
There were 2 4-die machines at the "California Academy of Sciences" before they closed up in 2004 to build a new building. Right now, August 2004, the "California Academy of Sciences" is housed in a temporary location somewhere South of Market. I could look it up, but why bother?
I'm really running out of things to say about these pennies from the "California Academy of Sciences" formerly and futurely in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. I remember when I got these I helped an Italian kid and his mother roll a couple.
Man, I don't think there even were any butterflies there before they closed the place. That's one reason I don't really like these PennyMen/ PennyCollector machines. They just recycle the same old images with different captions. All over the country, you find the same things. They're like the Wal-Mart of smashed pennies. Maybe I should just stop collecting these things.
Here's a generic fish from the "California Academy of Sciences". I went there back in 2003 with Jimmy and Jessica and we picked up a few of these pennies. At this point, I think the old Steinhart Aquarium, where a fish like this would've been, has been torn down to make way for a new building.
Inside the "California Academy of Sciences" there was the Aquarium, the American and African Halls (which were filled with taxidermied animals in "realistic" settings), a display of gems and minerals, native american art, a foucault's pendulum, other assorted stuff, and the Morrison Planetarium. Whew.
Ok, so 2003 was the 150th Anniversary of the "California Academy of Sciences". In 2004, they tore it down. Huh.
"California Academy of Sciences 2003" The Academy of Sciences is in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. 2003 is the 150th Anniversary of the Academy (not all in GGP, of course, the park hasn't been there that long) and in August they had a party and this was one of 2 coins being rolled there in an attended machine. Woody, Nancy, & Miranda brought this and another back for me.
"California Academy of Sciences 2003" I've lived here all my life and I have always called this place "the Aquarium". Technically they're not the same, the Academy building was built onto the front the of the Steinhart Aquarium in the 1960's I think. Anyway, Woody, Nancy, & Miranda brought this and another back for me from the 150th Anniversary party for the Academy in August 2003.
"Chinatown Gate - San Francisco" The Chinatown Gate, for those of you who want to see it, is across Grant Avenue at the Intersection of Bush. This penny, however, is from a few blocks away, on Powell near Geary.
"Play Ball - Giants" I go to a ton of Giants games, I'm a fan, it's true. I even really like Jose Cruz, and I don't blame him for dropping that ball... ok, I do a little.
"San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge" This is a really nice perspective, and very accurate, I guess they must use a photo to design it. I got this one morning on a long walk that took me from South of Market, up through Union Square and Chinatown, to North Beach, then back around the Embarcadero to the ballpark. This penny came from somewhere on that route. Good Luck.
"San Francisco Sourdough Bread" Yup, it comes in a round loaf like this, but it also comes in a long loaf. When I was a kid we never got the round loaf, and we always called it French Bread.
You know, Tony Bennett sang a lot more songs than just "I left my Heart in San Francisco". Somewhere else on this site, I call it a "smarmy" song and it is... but Tony Bennett is great, great voice, great singer, great person.
"Old Ships at Hyde Street Pier - San Francisco" The historic ships are very cool and worth a visit. They're just down Jefferson Street from Fishermans' Wharf, so please walk an extra couple blocks, it'll be worth it. Plus, Brady and I got married there!
"San Francisco Cable Car" This one say "Union Square" on the sign on the front. That's nice, because that's really where this penny came from.
"Golden Gate Park - San Francisco" - This pagoda is in the Japanese Tea Garden, where there's also a penny machine. This one cam from one of 2 4-die machines on Powell Street.
"San Francisco" This is a really nice one that I got for a quarter at the Alemany Flea Market near my house. I paid a quarter for it. It has a style and detail that's unlike any of the current coins available in San Francisco, so I think it's a little old, maybe late 1970's
"FAO Schwarz" has machines in some of their stores, Brady got the pennies from the store in New York City and had a very hard time there. The store in San Francisco has the machine right by the front door.
"FAO Schwarz - San Francisco" The pennies from the New York store and the pennies from the San Francisco store are pretty much identical except that this one says "San Francisco." Gee whiz, sometimes I even bore myself with these descriptions.
Anyway, the FAO Schwarz San Francisco store is right near Union Square, the main shopping district. Yawn.
"FAO Schwarz" So this penny is just like the one from the NYC store. I wrote a really interesting funny story about those pennies, and I just can't muster up anything about this one. So, I really suggest you go read about those.
"Musee Mecanique - Laughing Sal" The Musee Mecanique is a collection of coin operated games and novelties, that for the time being, exists in the basement of the Cliff House. Laughing Sal, depicted on the coin, is the somewhat grotesque automaton that once stood above the Fun House door at the old Playland at the Beach amusement park and now will laugh derisively at you as long as your quarters hold out.
"Carousel at Zeum - Yerba Buena Gardens" This carousel used to be at the old Playland at the Beach amusement park. All the proceeds from it support Zeum's arts programs.
"Zeum - Yerba Buena Gardens" Zeum is on the roof of the Moscone Center on Howard between 4th and 5th. It's a science museum for kids.
So at the Giant's New Ballpark, I refuse to say the name because I hate it so much, there is a penny smasher. Every series they change the die to reflect the current opponent. I'm a season ticket/ charter seat holder and I go to about 60-70 games a year, so I always get a penny for each opponent. This year Barry Bonds hit his 500th homer (I was there) and then had a special day to commemorate it. This penny was in the machine for that day only, pretty cool huh? "April 17th, 2001 - Barry Bonds 500"
I got this penny commemorating the 49ers victory in Super Bowl XXIII (23 to you, in which they beat the Bengals 20-16) at a coin and stamp shop in Oakland. They had a whole big box of them sitting in the window... I think they still do.
"Haight St. - San Francisco, California" Yup, this is the center of the hippie revolution. Things have changed a lot, but you can still get a little of the summer of Love flavor. If you go, you gotta visit Mendels, it's the genuine article.
"Positively Haight - San Francisco" This store is on the corner of Haight and Masonic. It's where the machine is. They're nice, but bring your own pennies.
"Peace, Love and Happiness - San Francisco" for those of you with failing eyesight, the international symbols.
"Golden Gate Park - San Francisco" This one shows a carousel horse and two other structures I don't recognize. I don't think it's my fault I don't recognize them either. I think whoever made this one, just slapped some stuff in there. Sheesh, what a souvenir!
The Jungle is a kind of commercial indoor play area for kids. They have slides and big balls and play structures.There are a few locations around the Bay Area, I got this one at the San Francisco location. This one shows a parrot.
"The Jungle", depicting an elephant. It's the kind of place where you throw a birthday party for kid, they have skee-ball and an arcade, in addition to the play areas. I think the elephant is the best of the 4 from the Jungle.
"The Jungle" This one shows a rhinoceros. They kinda looked at me funny when I went into the place. I guess they don't get too many unescorted (by children) adults. In fact, I think they generally frown on the practice.
"The Jungle" with a gorilla. I think the reason they only say "The Jungle" and don't list the city is because they have multiple locations and just use duplicate dies at each. I don't think it's worth it to me to drive around and test my theory though. If you find out, let me know.
So, in the interests of making sure I had the penny from the Golden Gate Bridge Gift Shop, I made the trip over there, I know I know I live in the City it can't be that far, but really, I live on Bernal Heights, which is about as far from the Bridge as you can be and still be in San Francisco. Anyway, this is the penny from the gift shop.
The Cliff House overlooks Seal Rocks at the City's western edge. I got this one at the Musee Mechanique, a museum of antique coin-operated carnival and arcade machines in the Cliff House basement.
I recently found this one on the floor of my car! I had totally forgotten about it. It comes from San Francisco's Hands-on science museum, the Exploratorium, and pictures the Palace of Fine Arts, where the Exploratorium is housed.
"The Carousel - San Francisco Zoo" It turns out that zoos are one of the best places to find penny smashers. The San Francisco Zoo has four of them.
In each of the machines, there are pictures of all four and an exhortation to "Find them all!" They really aren't that hard to find, this one with the gorilla is in the primate center gift shop.
This one was right on the front porch of the main Zoo building. Like the next three, it says "San Francisco Zoo." It's got a picture of a giraffe.
The zoo has three new lion cubs that live together in a special enclosure on the west end of the Lion House. They've grown a bit bigger than the one on this penny, but they're still pretty cute.
I don't know what it is about pennies from the Exploratorium, but I found this one jammed in the cushion of the back seat of my car. It shows the famous perception test....do you see a vase? or two faces in profile? Anyway, I was back there recently and both the machines are still working. (11-98)
"Japanese Tea Garden - San Francisco" The Japanese Tea Garden is in Golden Gate Park near the De Young Museum. It's got some beautiful gardens, and, believe it or not, is where the fortune cookie was invented.