Despite a change in location from its traditional Orlando home, the 2011 Florida United Numismatists convention, held in downtown Tampa Jan. 6 to 9, seemed to surpass most people’s expectations.
Longtime collectors and dealers alike look to the annual FUN convention — the first show of the year with a U.S. market focus — to serve as the barometer for the year in many ways, with a huge Heritage Auction Galleries multi-session auction including Platinum Night, a pre-convention auction by Bowers and Merena, and a large bourse floor full of dealers hungry to reposition their inventories for the new year.
Cindy Wibker, FUN secretary and convention coordinator, counted 3,000 registered attendees on Thursday, 2,400 on Friday, 3,200 on Saturday and 1,000 on Sunday for a total of 9,600 visitors. This count does not include people who came on multiple days — for example, a collector could register on Friday and also attend Saturday and Sunday, yet be counted only once.
While attendance was less than the 11,200 individuals who attended the FUN convention in Orlando in 2009, attendance rose from the 9,000 that were counted last year in Orlando and a “buzz” on the bourse floor that was palpable, with collectors sometimes standing multiple people deep to view the coins and other items displayed in dealer cases.
ATB bullion craziness
A constant question at the show from both dealers and collectors alike was how long the strong prices for 2010 America the Beautiful 5-ounce bullion coins would last. Online auction transactions during the week generally placed uncertified five-coin sets at the $2,300 to $2,600 level.
The sale of multiple five-coin Numismatic Guaranty Corp. graded Mint State 69 sets on eBay before and during the FUN convention at $4,500 to $6,000 helped create a strong demand for certified coins at the show.
General consensus at the show was that there would be very few — if any — America the Beautiful 5-ounce coins graded MS-70.
NGC’s vice president, Scott Schechter, commented, “The major condition issues are abrasions on Washington, heavy scuff marks, hairlines and long marks that encircle the interior of the rim. Spotting, unlike other silver bullion issues [such as American Eagle silver bullion coins], hasn’t been a significant problem.” He was unable to provide a total number of 5-ounce coins that NGC received at the show.
James Sego of JMS Coins, Naperville, Ill., had several examples of the uncertified 5-ounce five-coin sets in his display case on Jan. 6, priced at $3,000 for uncertified sets and $4,500 for NGC MS-69 sets. At that time he had sold four uncertified sets and later that day got his same-day NGC submissions back.