By Glen McClary
This is my tenth year in attending the FUN show. After so many years you might think it has become more of a routine visit, but NO, it is still a fascinating experience.
Usually, I attend on Friday each year. I always felt that was a good day to miss the opening crowds and yet not be squeezed by the weekend attendees. This year I went on Thursday and I think I will be doing that in the future. I parked just outside the convention center and zipped to the registration area. As usual, there were great volunteers waiting to give you your name tag and bag of collectibles, including a reminder card for 2021, an elongated cent with Liberty embossed, a 2020 also with Liberty and the dates 1955-2020, and your all-important show guide.
Each of these are collectibles in and of themselves and I share them with my northern club members when I return home in the summer.
As I entered the bourse I took in the initial sense of what was to come. The activity level seemed high and indicated a great day ahead. My first stop was the BEP exhibit area where I had a nice chat with a BEP employee about inks, engraving, and the old press that was in use there. It was from the 1880s and still cranked out various card stock including Purple Heart and Congressional Medal of Honor items. They were exquisite! I also took several pictures including the Billion Dollar Showcase presentation of high denomination bills.
Moving along I passed and said hi to Ben Franklin and Abe Lincoln re-enactors who were just setting up. I also dropped by the gold panning exhibit, a staple for those who want to try their luck in hitting the big one. I then moved to the exhibit area. In two of the last three, my Central Brevard Coin club has had an exhibit and I wanted to see the final product. It was a space theme with various memorabilia from our members who worked at the Cape over the years. The display included a variety of related coinage from early NASA to the present. Well done club members!
I moved to other great exhibits of coins, paper money, and souvenir cards to name a few. I had an animated chat with the Souvenir Card Club rep about the fine cards enabling a collector to have inexpensive ownership of currency that would otherwise be unattainable. These cards used the exact ink and the card stock was high quality. I might join the club in the near future with its modest membership fee.
I drifted around the bourse and found my Western New York friends and dealers, Doc and Carol. We compared notes on the early start to the show and after exchanging pleasantries, I was off again. I got about five tables away and heard my name called and it was a friend, Brian, who was in my WNY club for years but had moved to S.C. a few years ago and was running a coin shop in Charlotte, N.C. close to his home. We had a long talk, caught up and parted with smiles and a handshake promising to keep in contact as always.
Now I was ready for my yearly modest purchases for my Morgan dollar Collection. I have sought Jack Copeland of Royalty Coins (located in San Antonio, Texas) over the years as they have boxes and boxes of slabbed coins for quite reasonable prices. Before I started my search we had a friendly chat as I was early and the chairs hadn’t filled in yet.I made several purchases and was given a great multi-coin discount. You can count on them to make me want to come back year after year. All of my purchases were MS 61-63.
Another friend from up north, Jesse, asked me to check around for French Indochina piastres. I could only locate two and they were not in the grade he was looking for. Several vendors were kind enough to give me their cards for Jesse and each vendor was great and helpful.
I went off to the bargain area looking for error cents with dates. Strangely I had no luck for years I didn’t have but it was fun to browse the tables and talk errors with each seller.
Time flew by and I ran to a presentation on Chinese fakes given by Tom Walker. For me, it was a wonderful introduction to what many of us worry about in coin collecting. He had great photos of a “fake factory,” and comparisons between bad fakes, good fakes, excellent fakes, and the Real Deal. He stressed the bottom line of educating yourself and to be a wise buyer: If it seems too good to be true, it is! Buyer Beware!
After the presentation, I drifted to several Heritage Auction rooms. Paper money was the item of the hour. It was fascinating to watch the speed of each item mimicking the speed of the Mecum Auction in nearby Kissimmee I had attended several days earlier. Money was no object and items “flew off the shelf” so to speak. Phone and Internet bidding seemed to dominate. High bid values were in evidence also.
I drifted back to the bourse and checked out some high-value coins. The vendors were very conversational and willing to show the coins to me even though they knew I couldn’t afford them. I just wanted to feel what a $10,000 coin was like in my palm. Kudos to all the people that I talked to as I strolled the aisles.
As I left for the day I stopped by the reservation area and thanked the workers for their efforts. The entire staff who put on this show should be praised for their unlimited energy and a high degree of quality for vendors, attendees, and sponsors. I had a great day and will return next year to start a new decade of FUN. Thursday will be my day.
As I walked to my car for the drive back to the Space Coast I again marveled at what you can experience for free at the FUN show. It doesn’t get any better than this. See you in Orlando early in January 2021.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Glen McClary from Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to Editor, Numismatic News, 5225 Joerns Drive, Stevens Point WI, 54481. Email submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.