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Collector coins in demand at FUN

It was a tale of two kinds of market at the Florida United Numismatists convention Jan. 5-8 in Orlando.

Classic collectible coins and paper money did very well, while the more investment-oriented pieces were somewhat subdued, perhaps reflecting gold and silver’s weakness at the end of 2011.

Collector coins were the key for dealer Larry Briggs of Lima, Ohio, who also owns the SEGS third-party grading service.


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“We’ve been swamped,” Briggs said. “Collector coins are what people are looking for Collector coins in all series are what I’m selling.”

But Briggs also was buying.

“I’ve picked up good material, things I haven’t owned in five or 10 years,” he said.

For Bill Hodges of Southern Coin Investments of Atlanta, Ga., the show was “a little slow.”

As for his business outlook for the year, “I think depends on the metals market.”

The show had a lot of attendees “but no strong buyers,” said Ross C. Baldwin, president of National Coin Broker of Hallandale Beach, Fla.

But Baldwin said he expects a strong 2012.

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“More and more people are getting into our market,” Baldwin said. “I also do IRAs and 401(k)s just with precious metals.”

Collector coins were the draw for Rick Snow of Eagle Eye Coins in Tucson, Ariz.

“(It) was a great show, a lot of collector activity mostly looking for problem-free collector coins,” Snow said. “There was very little in the way of bullion type of deals.”

Business was good, said Evan Gale of Aspen Park Rare Coins, Littleton, Colo.

“The crowd has been really good,” Gale said. “I mainly come to buy. It’s hard to get away from your table at this show.”

Jim Carr of Pelham, N.H., called the convention “another nice FUN show.”

It started with some good sales during dealer setup and continued once the public arrived.

“People came here to buy with shopping lists. They had their want lists. They knew what they wanted,” Carr said. “They saw the coin they wanted and bought it.”

Half cents, large cents, Colonials and Bust halves were among the best selling collector coins for Carr.

“All the bullion business has gone to rest and come back to coins,” said early copper dealer Col. Steven Ellsworth.

“This is really exciting for the start of the year. People are enthused. What we’ve been offered is their duplicates and their castoffs. Collectors are keeping their coins.”

Small-size U.S. paper money dealer Bob Azpiazu of First City Currency, St. Augustine, Fla., also noted that people came to his table with want lists.

“My area is the lowly $1 bill. It never cools off,” he said.

Azpiazu called the show “really good. It was very well attended, not too many tire kickers.”

World paper money dealer Dave Cieniewicz of Huntsville, Ala., called the show outstanding.

“World paper money continues to be in demand at all levels,” he said.

With 2012 beginning with collectors and the dealers who cater to their needs clearly in control, the market at FUN temporarily at least pushed bullion into the background.

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