The FUN Show Never Disappoints

Posted on 1/11/2018

The annual winter Florida gathering is changing cities next year.

Few conventions on the coin show circuit are as eagerly anticipated as the January FUN show each year. The show is put on by the Florida United Numismatists organization, and is held in different locations around the state.

For many years, the show had been held in Orlando, but recently that venue had not been available. This year, the show was held in the Tampa Convention Center. The 2019 FUN show will return to Orlando, pleasing those who love combining their hobby with an opportunity to visit theme parks.

I have been attending the annual FUN show since the early 1970s. I grew up in Florida, and have many fond memories of the early conventions that were held in the old Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, Florida. Many who attended these conventions remember some of the great characters of the era such as Robert Hendershott and Doug Brown. Robert lived to be 106 and had the great distinction of having lived in three different centuries!

Since its beginnings, the annual FUN has been a huge success each year. The FUN show is considered a bellwether event for the rare coin market. Most rare coin dealers and collectors look to the show for market strength and direction. I believe this can be a mistake, as I have never had a bad FUN show, and the rare coin market can sometimes be soft shortly thereafter. The FUN show is uniquely positioned for success each year.

First, the timing of the event is ideal. December can be a slow time for the rare coin market. There are very few, if any major rare coin shows. Demand for new material builds over the holidays, and quite a few dealers save coins for the January event. In short, there is a lot of pent up business just waiting to happen. Dealers and collectors are also excited to visit somewhere warm during one of the most frigid parts of the year – although that was hardly the case this year, as the temps in Florida plunged into the 30s.

Officials open the 2018 FUN show in Tampa, Florida.

The winter FUN is also one of the most heavily marketed shows in the country. The FUN organization is blessed with bountiful revenue from bourse fees and auction revenue. Because they have a very small permanent staff and the revenue does not have to support a headquarters, museum and other expenses, the FUN organization can spend aggressively to promote the show. They even pay for buses to bring members of coin clubs from around the state to attend the convention.

The winter FUN convention is also one of the anchor auctions each year for Heritage Auctions. This year, their sale brought in revenue of over $25 million. The large auction attracts collectors from around the country and helps increase foot traffic for the bourse floor as well.

1880 Flowing Hair $4, graded NGC PF 67 Cameo. Realized: $750,000.
Click images to enlarge. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

One of the highlights of this year’s auction was an NGC PF 67 Cameo 1880 Flowing Hair Stella that sold for $750,000. The coin is one of the finest known examples, and sold for a price that is usually more associated with the Coiled Hair examples of the type. (Read more here.) Heritage also sold thousands of coins and paper money in a wide range of prices. Most participants reported very strong price results across the board.

For those looking to attend an exciting event with lots of coins to choose from, none, other than the ANA World’s Fair of Money, compares. There are over 1,000 rare coin and paper money dealers in attendance. There is everything from the mom and pop coin shop, to the mega rare coin companies. This mix of dealers is what many find attractive about the show. There are specialists from around the world selling everything, including Colonial coinage, early copper, ancient coins, paper money, tokens and medals, and just about everything else that has ever been used as money.

Like most, I’m hoping the success of this year’s FUN show will continue well into 2018. The recent run up of the stock market has many feeling flush with newfound wealth, and the country, in general, seems optimistic about the economy. As I have stated in recent articles, many rare coin prices are at depressed prices, and now may be a great time to add to your holdings. Next time, I will highlight some of the areas of the market that have seen the biggest declines.

For now, the top end of the market is getting the most attention and price increases. Hopefully, the rest of the rare coin market can gain steam in the very near future.

Contrary to what you may read in the numismatic press, I can attest that some coin shows are as strong as ever. Attending a numismatic convention is still one of the best ways to fully enjoy the hobby, and well-run shows like FUN will be around for a very long time.

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