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FUN gives great start to 2019 coin business

Going to a FUN show is as close to being a kid in a candy store as someone my age can get.

I have just returned from the Florida United Numismatists convention in Orlando.

My heart says I wish it were twice as long as the four scheduled days.

However, my legs tell me I have stood on a cement floor quite long enough.

The show is immense.

There were 603 booths with something over 900 tables.

With dealers manning tables and collectors visiting them, there was the proverbial buzz on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday traffic had more kids, because of YN and Scouting programs, but the numbers of both dealers and collectors had fallen off.

I left for the airport Sunday morning without getting a glimpse of bourse activity, but I expect it was limited.

This show looked like it has given commercial activity a solid start in 2019.

I hope so. A good FUN show has done so in the past. But not always.

Back in 1983, the FUN show was great. Results were impressive.

I wrote that a new boom might be at hand.

Unfortunately, the market wasn’t ready for a boom then.

We had to wait a bit longer for the great bull market that took us to 1989.

It is not yet clear what will lead us to a great new bull market.

In the 1980s, it was the Morgan dollar and the invention of the commercial grading services that slabbed them in 1986 and 1987.

In 2019, it does not hurt that the best of five known 1885 Trade dollars was sold at the Heritage auction for $3.96 million.

The buyer was billionaire Dell Loy Hansen, who is looking to be this generation’s Louis Eliasberg.

Numismatics benefits from great collectors assembling historical sets, but it also needs you and me and all the other collectors like us to really get going.

What are we buying or not buying?

What will we do going forward?

Every coin dealer wants to know.

We are living in a time of change. This can be good or bad.

In the 1960s, numismatics did not know what hit it when clad coins arrived.

We survived.

In the 1980s it was slabs. This created a positive feedback financial loop.

Nowadays, the Internet has reorganized how we collect.

This is both empowering for knowledgeable collectors and a huge trap for newcomers who do not know a Chinese counterfeit from the genuine article.

How this is sorted out will determine our future.

I held fake clad quarters in my hand at the FUN show thanks to Beth Deisher and the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force of the Professional Numismatists Guild.

They have the correct electronic signature to fool vending machines.

Most collectors would have no trouble seeing that they are fake.

These coins are not intended to be offered as collectibles.

Collectors might not even look at a clad quarter in their hand if they don’t think the Chinese would bother to fake our circulating coins.

They need to think again. We all do.

The challenges of 2019 are not simply wondering where the price of silver might go in 12 months’ time.

But challenges are made easier by a stronger commercial coin business.

Thanks to FUN, we got it.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."