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Back to Road Report Archive 2018

January 2-6, 2018: The FUN Show in Tampa, FL

rr2018 01fun


Good morning New Year’s revelers, early risers, those who scour the web for new numismatic content and any of the many, many people who have stumbled upon this site while doing a Google search for ‘Selling State Quarters in Massachusetts’ and welcome to this our first RR of 2018.

With this installment being written right here at my airport gate even before the adjacent Dunkin’ Donuts is open.  Not that we would partake if it was, since the line is huge and already disgruntled, and the order and breakfast delivery process at this particular location could best be described as “they have no idea what they’re doing” (come to think of it, it’s a lot like the registration process at the Baltimore Expo used to be before Whitman took it over).

Anyway, while I wait extreeeeemely patiently for my flight to Tampa to board I’ve just enough time to lay out the things we hope to accomplish at this year’s event:

  • Find nice examples of some of the coins listed on CRO collector want lists
  • Meet and greet collector and dealer friends we have not seen since in a while
  • Buy only the really cool CRO-style coins in the auction
  • Snag some great stuff on the bourse floor in unexpected places
  • Unleash some of the cool new stuff we’ve acquired recently
  • Hit that Cuban Café at least one night
  • Submit some walk through grading and get decent results back
  • Revel in the fact that while it is expected to be quite cool in Tampa with highs only in the 50’s this week, that is still 50 degrees warmer than it was when I woke up this morning.

And if we accomplish these objectives, or even if we don’t, you can read all about it right here on this site each and every morning of this show.

So you might want to keep an eye out for that –

January 2nd:  Day 1

Since it was a crunchy -3 degrees when I left home in New England, I was of course delighted to step out of the airport into balmy (relatively speaking) 46 degree Tampa on Tuesday morning, grab my bags, jump in a cab and head over to the hotel at about noon.

Where I like lightning dumped my bags, ate lunch and then rocketed over to the convention center to drop off some show grading and then park myself in the HA lot viewing room to pore through the several thousand lot FUN auction.

First observation:
After not seeing any other dealers or collectors at the airport or hotel, and vaguely wondering if I was in the wrong place, I discovered that most of them were already here at HA having gotten the jump on me.

Second observation:
As has been noted here in the past, I’m a pretty quick lot viewer and was able to catch up fast and finish most of my work in a few hours.

Third observation: Despite the presence of a lot of long-off-the-market colonial material and a veritable ton of other coins, there were scant few CRO-style items throughout and I ended up flagging only about a dozen total bidding targets, though that could go up when I finish up the gold later.

At which point I headed back to PCGS to drop off a couple more coins, then went back to my room to do some work and meet up with another dealer who made a house call to show me some NEWPs of which I bought 3 cool ones.

Before eventually meeting up with some dealer friends in the lobby and then walking to dinner over the bridge here in what was a downright freezing evening that was fortunately also very windy, making us glad we chose what I believe is the very closest restaurant to the hotel.

And then coming back early-ish and calling it a looooong day so we can be ready for what should be an even longer Wednesday which will include more grading, more wholesale activity and more lot viewing before we roll into dealer set-up on the bourse floor at 2 PM.

With all of the details of all of it to be described right here in this space just 24 hours from now.

Until then, then –

January 3rd:  Day 2

It was an early start Wednesday as your author leaped out of bed, realized that it was 4:42 AM and then immediately went back to sleep until 6:30.

At which time I was up for good, just in time to create a new CRO Coinworld ad, figure auction bids, answer email and write yesterday’s RR all before meeting a dealer friend for breakfast.

Followed by a trip over to the convention center made more enjoyable by the heavy and awkward show supply bag I would be schlepping with me. So of course I was especially pleased when the bellman at the hotel door informed me that it had just stopped raining, encouraging me to head out umbrella-less into what turned out to be, disappointingly, an ice cold rain.

But since I was already en route I kept going, arriving cold and wet, dropping the aforementioned supply bag at the security room and then zipping back over to Heritage to finish lot viewing where I found just a couple more coins to bid on.

Then met up with some dealer friends in the lobby, joined them for lunch back at the hotel before returning to join the throng lined up at the bourse room door ready to burst in at 2 PM and start conducting coin business like crazy.

Which is exactly what I did, arriving at CRO table #825, setting up everything at break neck speed and selling the first couple of coins before I had even finished. Which turned out to be a good indicator of what was to follow, as I sold a bunch of coins, bought some great things from many different sources, picked up some new purchases made in the last few weeks, including a neat medal which no less than 4 other people tried to buy from me in the hour and 14 minutes I had it in my possession even though I didn’t have it on display and fully intend to save it for the next EB.

With the day culminating with the purchase of a cool 1824/1 Capped Bust Half I tried to buy from a dealer earlier, found out he sold it to someone else, so I raced over to that guy and bought it since it was drop dead gorgeous and still priced below recent auction records of examples I liked a whole lot less.

But while I did buy nearly every cool CRO-style coin I saw, I did pass on a couple that were priced just beyond my comfort zone. They might have been good deals though, and so it’s possible I could change my mind before this thing is over.

Anyway, I finished up by buying one raw world coin, dropping off some wicked show grading and then heading out to dinner with some dealer friends at which time the other half of Team CRO, my wife MaryAnn, arrived from the airport and joined us.

And so now it will be a joint effort on Thursday, the first full day of this show, where we expect to buy and sell a lot more cool coins before bidding in the Heritage Platinum Night session right after.

With whatever happens to be described here on Friday AM.


January 4th:  Day 3

Like a well-oiled machine Team CRO headed to breakfast on Thursday at the hotel restaurant where we encountered every other coin dealer in North America shoe-horned into an area designed to hold perhaps 85% of us.

And then headed straight to the convention center on a still brisk but at least partly sunny day, made our way to the registration area, got that squared away and then proceeded onto the bourse floor at precisely 8:30.  Where would spend the next 10 hours in a whirlwind of meeting collectors and dealers at the table, doing deals, submitting grading and running around like crazy attempting to find every cool coin in the room (and it’s a very big room).

With most of that turning out to be extremely successful, as people seemed to be in the mood to buy, trades we discussed ended up working out for all parties and we amassed a pretty impressive stack of cool NEWPs in the back case where they will wait, patiently, for our next EB one week from next Tuesday.

Also successful: Our auction strategy here, since I had flagged the coins of interest, entered proxy bids and then completely forgot all about them until I checked the results late in the day and saw that we bought everything we wanted for well less than our max bids (which is waaaaay better than forgetting to bid altogether, which can happen at these shows since it gets a very hectic, and the bourse floors have as many clocks in them as an average casino (i.e. none).

So we were feeling fine as we made our last couple of deals, locked up, eye-balled the Heritage Platinum Night session and then headed out to dinner with some dealer friends at a place called Ulele which was delicious.

And then returned to the hotel to check those proxy bids (which again worked out real well) and then called it a night so we can be ready to fire this thing up again on what we figure to be another extreeeeemely active day on Friday.

More later –

January 5th:  Day 4

Having carefully set my alarm clock for 6 AM on Friday I jumped out of bed to a piercing buzz, checked my watch and was surprised to see that it was actually only 3:08. And while it would have been great to just go back to bed for those 3 hours, I never could fall asleep again and finally decided to abandon the effort at about 4.

So your author was juuuuuust slightly dragging as we walked over to the convention center at 8:30, clicked on the lights at table #825 and suddenly found ourselves in another whirlwind of buying and selling which started immediately with the sale of a group of raw coins we brought specifically to wholesale, and concluded with the acquisition of a charming NJ Copper at about 5:45 PM.

In between there was never more than a couple minutes of down time as we met with customers at the table, sold some coins outright, made some trades for others, went through countless boxes, did some on-the-fly appraisals, paid for our HA auction lots, figured and bought a raw 29-piece colonial deal in ancient envelopes, picked up some straggler grading and continued my customary sorties around the room picking off another dozen or so cool coins along the way, some purely on spec., others to satisfyingly fill long-empty slots on customer want lists.

Interestingly (to me, anyway), we were able to find some coins that I would not have expected, including two choice, original Vermont landscape coppers (something we get once or twice a year on average), while some no-brainer, slam dunk, “I’m sure these are here in this large room somewhere” coins don’t seem to be. Case in point a common date, untoned, Mercury Dime and Washington Quarter proof graded 65-66 in a PCGS OGH with CAC. So if anyone has either of those last two, let us know.

Also interesting: The sale of a coin which was on our last EB, had been ordered by another dealer, ultimately rejected in a “call me again when it gets cheaper” huff, but which sold here to a different dealer who was delighted to pay our ask. Honestly, if I had found that coin on the bourse floor I’d have bought it for our ask too.

With the sum total of our Friday activity a decided commercial success, sprinkled in with some Grade A numismatic schmoozing, followed by an evening out with some dealer and collector friends at the Columbia Restaurant, a Tampa staple, where we sat in the bar area, ate some delicious chorizo and had a live band blast contemporary classics directly into your author’s tympanic membrane for about 3 straight hours. So that was fun.

And then returned to the hotel so we could call it another early-ish night and get ready for what figures to be another looooong day on Saturday which will hope will culminate with an actual flight back to New England (and not a massive weather-related delay and eventual cancellation forcing us to camp out at the airport before finding another hotel and hanging out down here for another day or two).

So keep a good thought and check out tomorrow’s RR to find out what happens with that and everything else on Saturday at the FUN show.


January 6th:  Day 5

Having packed up and thoroughly searched the hotel room to ensure that we did not leave behind even one iPhone charger, Team CRO checked out, walked back over to the convention center and began what we hoped would be another action-packed day on the bourse floor on Saturday.

And it was right from the outset with the sale of a bunch of coins that another dealer had asked me to set aside on Friday, and the purchase of cool world coin that had been described to me over the phone and which I had no intention of buying – until I saw it.

Which would turn out to be one of about 15 new items purchased on this day of all shapes (hint: not all of them were round) and sizes (ranging from a diminutive gold dollar to an XL medal) and price points (since I went a little nuts and bought a couple of big ones).

With our purchases nicely offset by one sale after another of choice colonials, U.S. type (including one coin we had just extricated from a larger deal specifically for a customer who wanted it) bullion gold recently taken in trade toward an Argentinian coin, and a few NEWPs we did not really plan to offer here.

All making for a surprisingly good Saturday in Tampa which would end with a quick ride to the airport and a comfortable flight home is what I wish I could type here.  Instead, we got to the airport at around 5:30, waited at the gate through a looooong series of discouraging delays delivered in painful 20 minute increments and experienced a growing sense that we weren’t going anywhere on this night.

And that indeed turned out to the case, as the flight was cancelled at about 11 PM, plunging us suddenly into a queue with hundreds of other stranded travelers looking square in the face of a repeat of last year’s widely discussed FUN addendum (i.e. an extra few days parked in an airport hotel).  But this time we were smarter, running an end around, booking on another airline for a flight Sunday AM before every last seat was gone, finding a nearby hotel to crash on Saturday night and ultimately getting back to New England, relieved, on Sunday afternoon.

Giving us a full 36 hours to unpack, repack, recharge and head to Manhattan on Tuesday AM for the New York International Numismatic Convention.

From where our next RR will be written just a couple of days from now (unless we are delayed again, which is certainly possible).