Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VsICEiKKG8
Over 300 Antique And Rare Games - Hands-On At The Musée Mécanique
We visited Musée Mécanique in San Francisco, California - one of the world’s biggest collections of antique and vintage arcade games, pinball tables, penny arcades and other coin operated retro gaming novelties - some of them over 100 years old!
Get hands on with over 300 exhibits at this amazing fun free day out for the whole family.
This is my lovely wife, Kathryn, and we are at the Musée Mécanique today, which is a museum of all sorts of old mechanical arcade machines and interactive thingies and I thought that would be right up your street so - enjoy!
That’s right! We’ve been to the grand old US of A and there were a couple of very cool places that I wanted to share with you. First up is the Musée Mécanique, located on San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf, home to one of the world’s largest collections of 20th century penny arcade games and other coin operated novelties.
Oh and just before we get started, in the next video we’ll be taking a look around the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas so make sure you’re subscribed to the channel so you don’t miss that.
Anyway, founded by famed collector Edward Zelinksy - who started collecting and exhibiting these things aged 11 way back in the 1920s - the Musée Mécanique is now run by his son Dan, who not only runs the museum itself but is also single-handedly responsible for maintaining the machines and their bespoke one-off components.
So just getting the boring stuff out of the way first - there’s a really nice selection of arcade cabs ranging from the 1970s onwards with plenty of classics represented - particularly my beloved Atari of course who are local to California. As with pretty much everything else in the museum they’re only 25c a go and the museum itself is free to enter - but these cabs are pretty much the least interesting things here, all things considered.
I mean, look at this lamp - it’s literally hours of fun.
But before we could get onto the properly weird and wonderful stuff, we stumbled across some very cool 1960s Gottlieb pinball tables in fantastic restored condition. These Road Race and Sing Along tables date from the late 1960s and according to the Internet Pinball Database are pretty rare - only just over 1000 Road Races were ever manufactured and who knows how many are still out there today, especially in this condition.
Now I’m pretty terrible at pinball but at least Kathryn’s half decent at it.
Oh, but it gets older - and weirder. This Bally Sharp Shooter from 1961 was loads of fun, even though I was absolutely terrible at that as well. The gun fires these metal ball bearings - at a rather alarming velocity - and the aim of course is to hit the targets at the back. Thankfully it’s all enclosed so nobody lost an eye.
Incidentally, arcade-museum.com tells me that there’s only one known working example of this so it’s another one that’s very rare indeed - although I did spot another apparently non-functional unit at the Pinball Hall of Fame, which I’ll look at in the next video.
Moving on, I really enjoyed this driving game - Williams Road Racer, also from 1961. The aim is to steer the car along this winding track on a revolving drum, with a series of metal contacts keeping track of your driving skills. It perhaps comes as no surprise that I’m not very good at this one either.
Again, arcade-museum.com tells me that there’s only one known working example of this too, and it seems this is the case for a lot of the stuff that we played with today, so it’s a very special place indeed and well worth a visit.
Want to see another incredibly rare game from the 1960s in action? Of course you do. This is Midway’s Golden Arm, a strength tester from 1969. Now in my defence we don’t do arm wrestling in CrossFit. I guess I’d better eat my Wheaties.
Of course there are plenty of other fairground favourites and even a collection of… Foot massagers. But Musée Mécanique’s roots are in these even more weird and wonderful penny arcade machines, as exhibited at US arcades, travelling shows and state fairs for over 100 years. Stuff like these amazingly complex mechanical dioramas, and a good selection of musical offerings like self-playing pianos, all in full working order and yours to enjoy for 25c.
Here’s a really nice one - Groetchen Tool and Manufacturing Company’s “Pike’s Peak” - this is over 80 years old and again there’s only one known working example out there. Apparently it would also originally dispense a piece of bubble gum - I guess these ran out a long time ago - and if you can get the ball to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a free go. Very cool concept.
And yes, there’s plenty of the usual titillating peep show type stuff as well if that’s what tickles your fancy, although I’m told this has mostly been superseded by the internet these days. Allegedly.
Oh, and you can also get your fortune told!
The star of the show however is Laughing Sal, a larger than life animatronic lady who - well - I’ll let her speak for herself.
Not disturbing in the slightest.
We really could have spent all day in here with over 300 exhibits in total - with the ability to get hands on with pretty much all of them - my hat is well and truly off to Dan Zelinsky for keeping all of this stuff up and running and so accessible. It’s weird and wonderful - of course very San Francisco.
But sadly our trip here must come to an end. Many thanks as always to my Patreon and Ko-Fi supporters and YouTube channel members, you’ve certainly put more than a few quarters in our pockets today, and big thanks of course to everyone for joining us.
We look like old people trying to take a selfie!
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Become a Member: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe7aGwKsc40TYqDJfjggeKg/join
Musée Mécanique Website: https://museemecanique.com
Footage of Dan Zelinsky Taken From KQED Arts Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8SbTiIWils
Gottlieb Fun Land Pinball: https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=973
Gottlieb Road Race Pinball: https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=1971
Gottlieb Sing Along Pinball: https://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=2160
Bally Sharp Shooter: https://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=13318
Williams Road Racer: https://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=13139
Midway Golden Arm: https://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=2587
Groetchen Pike’s Peak: https://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=4625
Music Credits (Buy From Bandcamp To Support The Museum!):
Horseshoe Rag / Tell Me Your Dreams And I’ll Tell You Mine: https://museemecaniquesf.bandcamp.com/album/the-zelinsky-collection-volume-3
Crazy Rag: https://museemecaniquesf.bandcamp.com/album/the-zelinsky-collection-volume-1
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