The Error Collector's Blog

14 Dec 2022

The Oakland Bay Bridge Commemorative Coin

Young Numismatists Exchange | The Error Collector

In 1936 the San Francisco Mint minted a commemorative coin to commemorate the opening of San Francisco’s Oakland Bay bridge.

The obverse and reverse of the coin were designed by Jacques Schnier.

The mintmark is on the obverse and the date is on the reverse.

The obverse of the coin depicts Monarch ll, the last of the San Francisco bred grizzly bears. The grizzly bear is depicted on the obverse because the grizzly bear was the symbol of California.

The reverse of the coin depicts the famous ferry tower in the foreground next to the Oakland Bay bridge, there are two boats in the water, Yerba Buena (the Spanish words for spearmint) Island and East Bay Hills are in the distance. Treasure Island is not depicted on the coin because it was an artificial island not made at the time of the Oakland Bay bridge completion.

The total authorized mintage of this coin was 200,000 pieces, but only 100,000 pieces were minted. In 1937, 28,361 pieces were returned to the mint leaving 71,369 remaining. The coins were sold at drive through booths near the bridge entrance, this was the first-time commemorative coins were sold this way.

Jacques Schnier

Jacques Preston Schnier was born In Constanta, Romania on December 25, 1898, (Christmas Day). In 1903, when he was five, he and his family moved to San Francisco. In 1920 he graduated from Stanford University with a degree in engineering. Then he worked as an engineer at the Hawaiian Sugar Plantation Company. In 1936 he was commissioned by the United States Mint to design the Oakland Bay bridge commemorative coin. In 1939 he graduated from the University of California with a degree in sociology. He died in Walnut Creek, California at age 89.

The Oakland Bay Bridge

Before 1930 building a bridge across San Francisco Bay was thought nearly impossible because the safest spot to build a bridge stretched across eight miles of deep water with swift current. In 1933, The American Bridge Company started the dangerous task of constructing a bridge across the San Francisco Bay. Three years later the bridge was completed.

Monarch ll

At the end of October 1889, Allen Kelley, a newspaper reporter, caught Monarch ll, California’s last wild grizzly bear. Starting on November 10, the bear was put on exhibit at the Woodward Gardens in San Francisco, while there over 20,000 people went to see him. He was the model for California’s state flag. After being in captivity for 22 years he died. In 1911 after his death, he was stuffed and put on display at the Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park where millions of people saw him. His skeleton was donated to UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology where it remains today.


AC Coin$🌎

Level 6

Loved the images!! Thanks for the blog.


Level 6

I really enjoyed your blog! Beautiful coin indeed! The one thing that caught my eye was the length of that bears claws! Wow! Impressive! ; )


Level 5

Some wonderful achievements are depicted on coins. Lots more need to be too.

Long Beard

Level 5

I crossed both the Golden Gate into San Francisco and the Bay over to Oakland to see the Haight-Ashbury area where some of my music started. The Filmore West as well. So yeah, this commemorative holds a special interest for me. Thanks for sharing!


Level 5

Very interesting and informative. Might need to look for one of these commemorative coins. Thanks for a nice history lesson.


Level 7

Great job. Never herd of this coin. Still learning after thirty years. I E joyed it very much. The history and research. Great shots. They help make the blog! I need to get my spell check fixed! Sorry about that!!


Level 6

Nice job on a cool looking coin. I've gone across that bridge too many times in my past. Thanks. I like that big ol' bear.

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