By Glen D. McClary
The Florida United Numismatists show returned to Central Florida in Orlando from Jan. 5-8. It had been in Tampa the previous year. This was my third visit to the FUN show and it was nice to only drive an hour from Cocoa Beach. I attended on the first day (for the first time) and had several first experiences.
This year I took closer note of what was available at the show, the people I met and the general atmosphere of the bourse. My initial entry, after a pleasant registration and visit with the volunteer who registered me, was to zip over to the American Numismatic Association Certification Service table. I had two coins for them to evaluate. A cheerful young lady helped me set up the process with them and had me on my way in quick fashion. My coins were an 1814 large cent and a 1922-D cent. Neither was of really high value, but I wanted to add them to my modest collection of encapsulated coins. I had a great experience last year submitting my 1909-S VDB cent and look forward to what ANACS does with my latest items.
After my ANACS stop, I circulated to the Numismatic News table. Lo and behold, there was Dave Harper. He was holding a coin (it seemed he was evaluating it for a reader). I extended my hand and told him he had a great magazine, did a great job as editor and I was a happy subscriber. He shook my hand, smiled and then went back to his previous conversation. I smiled to myself thinking I had met a star of the show.
It got better a few minutes later when I was reviewing several of the wonderful exhibits. As I was viewing the Chattanooga paper money, I moved close to a gentleman sharing the same exhibit box on its table. It turned out to be Cliff Mishler. We nodded to each other and I said hello and told him I respected his work in numismatics, his leadership in our organization and his regular articles on his visits. He was also in conversation with another gentleman, so I don’t think he will remember me. But I will remember my first face-to-face visit with him.
As I circulated around the vast array of tables (almost 600) I had the impression that this first day was a good one for both collectors and vendors. There were the usual jewelry tables, the vast supply of gold coinage and there seemed to be more than the past number of paper money sellers. Buyers were looking at everything from inexpensive junk box items to high end proofs, early gold and silver pieces – and of course, the 25th anniversary American Eagles. I was hoping I might find one myself. I had been trolling eBay for weeks without success. As it happened I met a vendor, Harry Garrison, who in this shrinking world we live in, had worked in the 1980s in Buffalo, N.Y., for a company I knew well when I worked at the Peace Bridge there. He sold me two nice dollar coins and I asked about his only 25th anniversary set. We agreed on a price for the three items and had a jolly 15-minute conversation. Who would have thought you might meet someone who worked where I did ages ago, and 1,200 miles away? Not me for sure, and to get a good deal at the same time. Go figure.
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I bought a few more less expensive items over the next many hours, meeting great people. At each table, I stopped to say hi to someone, asked if they could help me, or if they just seemed to be sincerely wanting to converse. At one last table I found a great guy who sold me a low-grade 1916-D dime. I didn’t have enough cash to meet his lower-than-normal price even after we had gone back and forth in a friendly way to get to it. I was ready to walk away when he said, “Well, how much do you have?” I told him and he said okay, but take out 10 dollars from what you are going to give me and keep it for gas. Now who does that anymore? It turned out he was liquidating his collection due to health reasons. What a great person and vendor. I hope he did a great business the other days he was there. He was the norm for sellers from my humble observations.
As I left to go back to Cocoa Beach, I stopped at the doorways where several Heritage Auctions were going on. I was impressed with the technology for moving the specimens along and I was also impressed with the prices that were attained. The auctions alone seemed to indicate the economy is moving in a positive direction and the first day money flow was generous. But as I said, there was much for all at this coin show.
My only disappointment (and I was not unhappy with the show at all) was the lack of any Treasury/coinage displays. Last year there was a wonderful display and BEP engravers were in attendance. I missed not having something like that again this year, unless they came in the later days.
Overall, my third visit to FUN was just that: fun. I met great people, icons of the industry and enjoyed the extras that the convention put out for everyone who entered. It was such a pleasure to be in attendance and it struck me as I left the convention center that I couldn’t wait for next year’s show. If you are in the area in early January, don’t miss this once-a-year experience. To all the FUN volunteers, vendors, security and folks like me: Well done.
Glen D. McClary is a hobbyist from Cocoa Beach, Fla. Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.