This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Collectors were in the mood to buy at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) convention, which was held Jan. 6-9 in Tampa.
“They were spending money and selling things,” said Cindy Wibker, FUN convention chairman. “A lot of dealers told me they saw a lot of material that hadn’t seen the light of day in a long time.”
Coins that had been “squirreled away” showed up at dealers’ booths, Wibker said, some coming from folks who don’t usually attend the show’s usual venue in Orlando.
Tom Caldwell of Northeast Numismatics in Concord, Mass., said it was a good show with decent dealer-to-dealer business.
And as for collectors, he saw a lot of old and new customers.
“FUN is always a show that collectors seem to come out for,” Caldwell said. “They seem to save their funds to spend there, and they bring their coins to sell. It was a very active show.”
Gold remained a hot item, he said, with most people looking to buy rather than sell.
“We did a decent business in 19th century and earlier type coins,” Caldwell said, “and nice quality collector key date coinage.”
People weren’t “kicking the tires” but were at the show to do business, he said, noting that a lot of folks seemed to walk away with handfuls of coins they had come to buy.
“We also had satisfactory trades with people,” he said. People would bring some items that weren’t a core part of their collection and trade it for something they really wanted.
Northeast Numismatics has a strong online presence, and some of those customers also showed up at FUN, he said.
“We see three types of buyers,” Caldwell said. “There are those who always buy online, others who don’t have Internet access and rely on shows and face-to-face transactions, but many others who do both.
They go online, but they like to go out there and see the coins, too.”
For Allen Rowe, president of Northern Nevada Coin, there was a lot of activity in collector coins.
“We even sold an 1895 proof dollar to a collector we had never met before,” he said.
People may not have been spending as feverishly as in the past due to the economy, he said, “but the true collector is still out there looking for good coins.”
Northern Nevada Coin deals in a lot of Carson City coins, Rowe said, “and those, as always, were very popular at this show.”
Wibker said the show had a record 585 tables, with public attendance for the four-day show at 9,600.
Among attractions were a bargain area expanded from 24 to 52 tables, educational programs and club meetings. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts education program Saturday afternoon drew 123 participants.
Heritage Auctions at FUN brought in $53 million led by a Proof-67 1907 Rolled Edge eagle that brought $2.185 million. The coin auction realized $46 million with the paper currency auction bringing in $7.74 million.
Heritage President Greg Rohan said the eagle is only the ninth U.S. coin to ever sell for more than $2 million at public auction.
The FUN show will return to Orlando in 2012. It is slated for Jan. 5-8 at the Orange County Convention Center.