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Viewpoint: FUN convention a memorable event

By Glen D. McClary


Last year was the first time I missed the Florida United Numismatists show in 10 years. The miss was due to the unfortunate closing of the airport at Fort Lauderdale. This year I traveled across the state to Tampa’s Convention Center to renew my love of this jam-packed event. I arrived on Friday, my usual day of attendance. My showing up was twofold this year, looking and buying on a small scale and to view my local coin club’s four panel exhibit (which I had a small part in creating) focusing on NASA and the evolution of manned space flight.

Upon arrival I got my name tag, was given a bag and brochure and headed to the bourse floor. Over the years I have gotten a good feel for the show by assessing the crowd size when I enter. The number of vendors seemed to be about the same and there was a pleasant buzz coming from the room.

I immediately went to the exhibits, checking on the paper money errors, a D.B. Cooper ransom money presentation, a nice error section, a wonderful Medal of Honor display, which stirred me as an Army veteran. I was especially interested in the double medal awardees.

There were several other nice exhibits, but I was eager to get to our club attempt. It was hard to be impartial, but our four cases did justice to what we hoped to accomplish.

We had original signed photos, coins and stamps, medals, pictures, patches and pictures of our club members and our distinguished Bob who does so much for numismatics at the national level, state level and for our club, South Brevard Coin Club.

Satisfied with the exhibits, I started to circulate and see if I could get a gut feeling as to how the show was for both dealers and buyers. Each time I made a modest purchase, I asked the vendor how the show was. I got mixed reviews, some said it was good, but a bit slow, some said it was better than Fort Lauderdale, but all agreed it was the best when the show was held in Orlando. That was probably due to the central location of that venue.

I visited a friend and vendor from my neck of western New York, where I live in the summer, and he agreed with others, that things were slow but OK and that Orlando was the best for vendor sales by far.

I made a total of 10 purchases from four vendors, interestingly all from Texas. One was a vendor I had made purchases from in past years so that was a must stop. One of the things I appreciated from sellers that I purchased from was they had prices on everything. In each case I was able to do some negotiating and that made the experience even more fun. I did have a single negative experience when I tried to sit at a vendor table to view some boxed items and was told No! They didn’t want me there. I am not sure why, but I did leave with a bitter taste from them. I wrote down their name so I can avoid their space in future shows.

After many pleasant hours, exhausting my meager resources on good purchases, I decided to head up to a seminar by Scott Travers and Maurice Rosen on when to sell your coins. This was a good one as they speculated on the rise in gold prices (up to $5,000 an ounce by 2020) and the effect of Bitcoin on the bullion market. As a small-time collector this was an eye-opener for me. We have been having many discussions in print and face to face about collecting, when to sell, inheritance issues, etc.

There was also a discussion about tax changes for 2018 and how that will affect trading up with previously owned coins to new purchases and the tax implications. It was not a clear and rosy picture for the near future.

These guys were great in their knowledge. They entertained and they made me think. Not a bad way to spend and hour.

Unfortunately I missed Dave Harper’s presentation. I always like it because he predicts a Top 10 for the next year (2018) and reviews his hits and misses from last year (2017). I will wait for the Top 10 in his upcoming column.

Some general observations: The show was of high quality as always, with a great venue and fabulous volunteers. I felt there was a smaller crowd than normal for a Friday. Deals were in the making for those who asked and there seemed something for everyone and every monetary level.

Because of the Northern winter storms, there may have been an effect on the show. I also felt there were larger numbers of paper money vendors and a reduction of precious metal sellers than in the past. There was a vast array of slabbed coins (my personal favorite) and I know for sure this is a trend for the future to better secure resale validity.

Obviously non-slabbed coins were very much available as well as the search-through boxes. My last observation is one I see each and every year and at most shows I attend – the average of the buyers is older and older. Few young folks were present and fewer were buying. The same was true for the vendors. The wealth transfer to the next generation millenials rears it head and we need to set realistic plans for our collections, no matter their worth.

The show was great. I look forward to Orlando in 2019! A great day to spend in an enviornment that keeps the juices flowing for the hobby and those of us who like the feel of a coin and its history.

If you have never been to FUN, make it a bucket list item. Once you go, you will be hooked.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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