OK. So I’m not really talking about the Beach Boys. I’m talking about The Florida United Numismatists (F.U.N.) Convention, better known as the FUN Show. In 1955, a small group of dealers and collectors wanted an excuse to head south to sunny Florida in the dead of winter, so they decided to start a coin show—Florida United Numismatists was born. Over half a century later the FUN show remains one of the largest and most active coin shows in existence. Occurring annually during the first week in January, it acts as a barometer of the coin market for the year to come.
The show opened for dealer set-up Wednesday afternoon, and I entered with a herd of numismatists on the lookout for a “fresh deal”—a collection or hoard that has not seen the light of day in years. Ideally something that hasn’t been passed from dealer to dealer looking for a home. I did find one really cool fresh deal. It was horde of 1909 VDB Lincoln Cents. A dealer friend found an original roll and had them graded by PCGS. A few didn’t grade due to spotting or other reasons inherent to copper coins. I bought the 36 coin that were gradable. They were all in the Choice to Superb Gem Uncirculated grades. On a numerical scale, that equates to coins grading from MS63 to MS66. Cool.
I ran around for the next couple of days cherry picking some great coins. With about 600 dealer booths, there was plenty to look at. Unfortunately, with over 10,000 people in attendance I had a lot of competition. There were literally tons of coins, but so many were low grade, unattractive, uninteresting or overpriced. Anything really choice was in high demand.
One of my favorite stories in numismatics is that of Lavere Redfield and his Morgan Dollar hoard. I always try to buy Redfield dollars, but never find more than a few at a time. I couldn’t believe it when I turned up a few small hordes. I am really excited to announce that Shawn Leflar will be able to offer over 50 Redfield dollars on his Tuesday January 15th show. I don’t think I have ever seen more than 20 Redfield dollars in one place, and normally it takes a few months to accumulate that many. To have between 50 and 100 at once is a real coup.
If the FUN show is the numismatic barometer it usually is, we’re in for a big 2012. There were over $65 million in coins sold in the auction alone, so I’d estimate close to $100 million in coins traded hands during the first week of the New Year. At least two coins sold for over a million dollars, including a 1793 Chain Cent graded MS65 by PCGS. As the first U.S. One Cent coin, the Chain Cent was produced only for a few months during 1793. They are rarely encountered, and when they are found they’re usually in low grade and damaged. A Gem Chain Cent such as this is nearly unheard of.
The market seems as strong as ever—I expect 2012 to be a busy year . I anticipate it being very difficult to find enough high-quality coins to keep up with the demand—luckily I love what I do, and I’m up to the challenge.
Happy New Year.