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Back to Road Report Archive 2016

January 5-9, 2016: The FUN Show in Tampa, FL

rr2018 01fun

January 5th:  Day 1

Good morning and welcome to this our first full-blown RR of the year, delivered to you in living color from scenic but surprisingly loud (what is that constant noise that sounds like an industrial dryer in the hotel?) Tampa, Florida, and not the usual Orlando location for this show.

Wherever we are, and no matter the din, we are pleased have arrived down here on an uneventful flight crisply at 9 AM, delighted to find out that our high-floor hotel room was ready for ocupancy and that we thus could dump everything before racing over to lot viewing at the convention center at about 10.

From where we viewed as much as possible, kibitzed with other dealers, caught up on the latest news about who bought and/or sold what, fleshed out a couple of possible deals we had discussed with others over the last couple of weeks and actually bought a coin right there in the lobby.

Then submitted a bunch of grading, headed back to the hotel, talked to a few customers, answered email, ate lunch, figured some bids both here and for the New York International sales going on in New York this week and then, eventually, headed off to our annual FUN Show dinner with some good collector and dealer friends.

Where, as always, some highfalutin numismatic items were passed around like this:

And this:

And then ate things like this:

After which we  all piled into a XL-but-still-not-large-enough Uber car, headed back to the hotel and called it a night in anticipation of what we know will be an extremely busy and tiring Wedneaday here at the show.

More later –

January 6th:  Day 2

Wednesday in Tampa could best be described as “Here, shove this 10 pounds of numismatic activity into this 5 pound bag.“, as we worked from 5 AM until just after midnight stopping only to eat (a working) dinner. No lunch though. And we were extreeeeeeemely productive in the process as soon as the early morning alarm clock went off:

Responded to several customer inquiries that came in overnight. Frankly it always amazes and delights me that we can actually receive an order and conduct business while I’m sleeping. It’s like cleaning your oven, I guess.

Reviewed our notes and entered bids for the world auctions taking place this week in New York. Just keeping all of this straight and making sure we know what is being sold when is a trick, let alone buying the right coins and paying the right amounts for them.

Finished next week’s ad. Sometimes these flow with a good idea submitted by a customer or us instantly thinking of one, other times it’s like having an impacted wisdom tooth extracted, only more painful.

Researched a 1974 Bowers auction for a client. I like doing this, but I always enjoy it more when I am in my library and can simply reach for the volume on the shelf.

Grabbed a to-go coffee and headed over to Heritage lot viewing at the convention center.

Tore through the entire auction catalog, re-reviewed coins of interest seen yesterday and figured out exactly which of the 6,500+ items we really wanted to buy.

Sat over by the unopened bar in the lobby and entered our bids for the 1 o’clock auction session while gazing dreamily out at the intercoastal waterway. That view helped.

Retrieved our bags from security and noted that they seem to get heavier and more awkward every year.

Schlepped everything up the staircase in front of the bourse room, an entryway obviously designed by someone who was not carrying several heavy, awkward bags.

Stood for about 10 minutes in the throng outside the show which would eventually be siphoned through a single door in a way that I am 100% sure would flunk any remedial queuing theory exam.

Exploded onto the bourse floor.

Set up our table #1111, installed our lamps and laid out our inventory in about 13 minutes, causing more than one customer to remark that we were “the first dealer on the bourse to be ready for business”. We take great pride in that.

Sold half a dozen coins in the first 25 minutes at the show. I think this is related to that last comment.

Rocketed over to PCGS to submit one coin for grading.

Began the first of 10 or 15 giant circles around the room looking for cool coins, of which we succeeded epically in the US and world categories. Though not one colonial yet.

Handled multiple phone orders from customers.

Entered our Heritage bids for the evening session with mere minutes to spare.

Sold a last Fugio and then headed out to dinner at a restaurant over the bridge with a customer and seemingly surrounded by every other coin dealer in North America.

Talked about asset allocation in the hotel lobby right after which is always a hoot.

Headed back to the room to check all of our auction results from today and saw that we won about 75% of them. That’s good.

Reviewed our catalog notes and entered bids for the various auction sessions scheduled for Thursday.

And finally crashed hard at about midnight so that we would be ready to do it all (or something very much like it) on Thursday.

Until then, then –

January 7th:  Day 3

The dreaded glitch.

It would rear its ugly head on Thursday just before 5 AM as your author artfully typed yesterday’s Road Report and then clicked to upload it to the site. Nothing. Then again. Nothing. Then rename the file. Still nothing. I actually tried uploading it 11 times in total both as an RR and Coin Commentary before desperately trying to flag down our IT guy who is a lovely man but one that does not wake up as early as your author.

Fortunately, after swearing at my laptop over 65 times in 30 minutes, I would discover that all 11 said RR’s had indeed loaded but were appearing as January 2015 and were thus not in their usual spot at the top of the page.

So with that problem solved and the RR posted a bit late, we headed down to breakfast with a customer and then over to the show at about 9 where I discovered a nearly full room and a buzz in the air which immediately gave me the sick feeling that I had mis-read the schedule and missed out on some important numismatic activity.

So I got right to it, again looking for interesting NEWPs of which I found some cool US and world coins, and this time even a colonial. Boy that last market has been interesting lately, with a well-publicized glut of colonial material on the market early in 2015 and now a dearth of the kinds of coins we are looking to buy. We assume that will stabilize soon enough, though, with customers having finally digested their auction purchases and new coins coming to market.

Anyway, we were then back to the table where activity would be brisk pretty much all day, with good sales in all categories, including some things we have owned for several months, and other coins that never even made it to an EB let alone the website. Like this:


And this:

And this:

And then more NEWPs and more sales in a continuous cycle that would last until about 6 when traffic to the table finally subsided.

Though not before another dealer came by and mentioned he was set up across the room, a location to which your author raced straight way and bought 5 neat world coins in what would be our last purchase of the day, with one late straggler sale to follow.

Then we packed up and headed to dinner at a Cuban restaurant along the water which I had my doubts about but which turned out to be fantastic.

Before finally coming back to the hotel and reviewing lots for Friday’s auctions and then collapsing after what had been another thoroughly exhausting day here in Tampa.

But we still look forward to more of the same on Friday with the potential of some grading coming back and with it new coins to add to the table mix.


January 8th:  Day 4

Without so much as even a minor website issue impeding my progress, your author calmly worked without swearing in the hotel room early on Friday morning before serenely walking to the convention center just after it stopped raining like crazy.

Where once again I encountered a room already buzzing with a surprising level of commercial activity.

An observation confirmed later in the morning by two different vest pocket dealers who both told me that they were having their (and I quote) “best shows in over a year”.

As for CRO, we can’t make that same claim, though it has been pretty darn good, and we did begin the day with a bang, selling a cool coin we’ve had for a while, as well as another one of those items that never made it to the site:

An item which while not terribly expensive nicely illustrates the kinds of things we are looking for, namely coins which have more than one thing going for them.  In this case, a cool PCGS Doliy holder and pretty two-sided toning (prettier than the picture suggests, and not so easy to find on this otherwise common date).  If this had been a white coin in the same holder?  We wouldn’t have bought it.  If it was a toned 1921 in a new slab?  Probably also would have passed.  But the combination proved irresistable to us, and evidently to the buyer.

After which sales continued nicely, with also some seemingly serious lookers coming to the table who might (maybe, we hope) pull the trigger on a couple of expensive items before we all head home on Sunday.

Then we bought a coin on the far side of the room and headed back to the table, where we overheard a guy offering coins to another dealer that sounded like something we would buy. And since it would have been a breach of coin show etiquette to inject myself into that conversation, and I couldn’t just stand there waiting until they were finished, I decided to try to track that guy down later which of course I successfully did, snagging 4 cool coins in the process (including one that, ironically or perhaps predictably, we ourselves had sold to him several years earlier). Making for a thoroughly satisfying transaction during which we demonstrated the important coin dealer attributes of excellent hearing, patience, persistence and the ability to just write a good check.

Also important: Just walking around the floor, which according to my FitBit I have been doing to the tune of about 11,000 steps everyday in this airplane hangar-sized room.

Including to the budget section, which is located in a discontiguous area separated from the rest of the tables by the exhibits where it escaped your author’s notice for two full days.  But not Friday, when I finally made it over there and bought a bunch of cool coins which were just as interesting and no more budget-like than lots of others things I’d seen (and also bought) elsewhere in the room.

And yes, I’m proud of the fact that we scour the bourse to a degree that many others probably don’t in our never-ending quest for extremely cool coins for the website.

A quest that would finally end this day at about 6:30, when we headed out to dinner at another Cuban restaurant in Ybor City where we encountered about 300 other dealers who all had made the same culinary choice.

During which I tried to bid in a Stack’s-Bowers auction by iPhone in between the Coca de Langosta and the  Chorizo Española, which as you can imagine was a very frustrating experience in which I was outbid, then the high bidder again, then seemingly the winning bidder, and then of course not the winner anymore.

Oh well, you really cannot win them all, though maybe at the level this sold for I was in fact the winner by not being the winning bidder. You know what I mean?

After which we headed back to the hotel where I once again fell asleep almost immediately after another successful and busy day here in Tampa.

Until tomorrow –

January 9th:  And in Conclusion

Now back home in New England it’s time to recap the FUN 2016 with this segmented summary of various aspects of the show:

This year’s Tampa FUN location (one we’ve been to before) was perfectly acceptable, in a nice area, and about as well attended and active as we’ve seen in Orlando in the past. The only negatives I heard were from attendees who found the parking situation a challenge, too far from the convention center and accessed by a labyrinth of one way streets. I didn’t drive, or park, so I’m only going by what I heard. For me, the only real issue was the fact that our hotel wasn’t physically connected to the convention center and we had to run through a first rate tropical monsoon to/from the show twice in four days.

I’m not picky, but there seemed to be more than enough variety to satisfy the people that are, including those who wanted to go to a Cuban restaurant every day and watch a Flamenco Show, which I happily avoided.

Business was good, steady and nicely spread across categories, grades and types, though we did not sell any of the few mega-priced coins we brought it with us (not that we really expected to). One difference for us this time was that we did put quite a few NEWPs out and sold them here, rather than wait for the next Early Bird. Honestly I’m never sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but it doesn’t seem quite right to me to have a cool new coin with us, that we know attendees would want to buy, and then not show it to them. Not so easy to strike a balance between having fresh coins at a show, taking a bird in hand, creating a suitably robust EB and using that marketing platform to expose all new coins to a wider audience.

That Clicking Sound
I have no idea what it was, but some kind of persistent noise emanating from the scaffolds above the convention center sounded exactly the alien in ‘Predator’ (though I think that was just a coincidence).

I was pleased with what we found at the show, with an excellent haul of CRO-style US coins, a few cool colonials and a lot more world coins than I expected considering that so many of the world coin dealers we know were in NY this week. The only items I considered and did not pull the trigger on were a few other 5-figure coins that were very cool but were outside of our core areas and just seemed like an unnecessary risk to take. Would’ve looked awfully good on the site though . . .

Cool, fresh (or semi-fresh) coins in the auction that I liked and bid on were consistently strong. Average coins, or any kind of re-treads that had been seen in the recent past, were extremely weak or didn’t meet reserves that in some cases were waaaaaay less than their last sales records. That’s not a surprise, of course, but it sure looks lousy for the overall market.

I have very little first hand experience to relate here, since we got just one submission back at the show. It turned out exactly as I expected / hoped, so I guess we can’t complain too much.

Always a fun part of the FUN show, as we see so many long time customers and friends at this event, many who stay for 2, 3 or more days and swing by our table several times each day. That only happens here and at the ANA, and is one of the reasons that continually sprinkling the case with NEWPs as they come in is more important here.

And now we’ll focus on the next Early Bird, which will either go out Tuesday or a week from Tuesday depending on how quickly we can get our images ready, with the final schedule to be posted on our home page as it always is.

OK?  OK!