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FUN waits for Eagles

Gold and silver buyers interested in 2016-dated bullion coins were acting very picky at the Florida United Numismatists convention Jan. 7-10 in Tampa, Fla.

Marc T. Earle

Marc T. Earle was at FUN, taking orders for 2016 silver Eagles.

They could afford to be as no actual 2016 coins were available from the Mint until Jan. 11, which was after the show closed.

However, Marc T. Earle Rare Coins of St. Petersburg, Fla., had a large banner proclaiming that it was taking orders.

“They’re actually holding off buying,” Earle said. “We’re taking very few orders.”

Wall Street was having a bad week and the prices of gold and silver had both risen on financial worry during the show.

Many silver buyers were “sorry they didn’t buy 25-35 cents cheaper,” Earle said.

At previous FUN shows where supplies of new date bullion coins were available, Earle said he typically sold 5,000 silver Eagles, which is a significant portion of the 12,000 to 15,000 he would normally sell in an entire year.

As for sales of collector coins, “We’re doing about exactly what we thought we’d be doing,” he said. “Money’s tight for a lot of people right now. People who have money are  more interested in bullion than collector coins.”

Collectors coins were to be found in abundance on the bourse floor in Tampa.

“The Bust half market is alive and well,” proclaimed Sheridan Downey of Oakland, Calif.

“It has been an active show for me both with a mail-bid auction I ran and over-the-counter sales.”

World coin dealer Glenn Schinke of Montrose, Calif., said the show started out kind of slow, was pretty brisk Thursday and was very busy Friday morning.

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For Jack Beymer of Santa Rosa, Calif., the show was all about other dealers.

“The wholesale is doing very well,” Beymer said. “Key-date dollars are still OK.”

Copper specialist Col. Steve Ellsworth of Butternut, Clifton, Va., praised FUN and the Tampa venue.

“They’ve got great traffic,” he said. “I like this town better. It’s well run.”

The collectors he encountered were well educated, he said.
“They want to get as low a price as possible.”

Although there was a lot of activity at the show, in terms of business, Ellsworth didn’t think there was a lot of buying.

“That’s just shows in general,” he said.

But Ellsworth was a buyer. He purchased a reeded edge 1795 large cent, Sheldon-79, for $258,000 at Heritage’s Platinum Night auction. It is the fourth finest of 10 known.

Rick Snow of Eagle Eye Coins of Tucson, Ariz., spoke of the many Flying Eagle cents in the Heritage auction, one of his areas of specialty.

He called business pretty good, but thought his experience at the FUN show in Orlando was better.

“Everyone’s after the same dollar,” said dealer Julian Leidman of Silver Spring, Md.

Fewer dollars are coming into the marketplace, he said, and they are divided among auctions, the Internet and show bourses.

Cleveland paper money and coin dealer Harry Jones, said gold, silver dollars and classic commemoratives were moving for him.

“I’m probably selling more coins,” he said.

No “big coins” were selling for Gus Tiso of Salisbury, Md., but he said he “did very well for my mail-order people finding material below $500.”

World coin dealer Kent Froseth of Minneapolis said it wasn’t gang-busters, but business at the show was OK.

“We’ve bought some things we were very happy to buy,” he said.
And that’s good, considering it’s hard to buy good inventory these days.

Johnathan Lerner of

Johnathan Lerner holds up a display showing the process of creating a hobo nickel.

“A down gold market tightens everything,” Froseth said. “People don’t want to sell. People are reluctant to buy, waiting for prices to drop (further). We still buy as much as we possibly can.”

He said he hears similar reports of market conditions from all over the world.

For Jonathan Lerner of Scarsdale, N.Y.,  Coin, the show was unexpectedly good.

“I can’t say its the best show I’ve ever had, but I’m very happy with the results,” he said.

High-grade Franklins did really well for dealer Greg Allen of St. Paul, Minn., who had a case full of Franklin half dollars.

“It could be the largest group of 66 Full Bell Line (coins) anywhere with the diversity of dates,” Allen said.

Book author and dealer Scott Travers, who was walking the floor, said he had noticed a great movement of merchandise.

“It’s an extremely successful show with interest in all areas,” Travers said.

Jeff Garrett of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Inc., of Lexington, Ky., said, “The market’s good. I’ve been really busy.”
The FUN show was a microcosm of the whole national market as the year began.

With picky bullion buyers, educated collector coin buyers trying to get the best prices and active dealer-to-dealer trading, FUN comments make it sound like a typical year is now under way.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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