TAMPA — The 61st annual Florida United Numismatists, or FUN, coin show will provide a chance for the public to learn about the rarities and other intriguing monetary pieces sitting at home in change jars or floating around in pockets, purses and wallets when it starts Jan. 7 at the Tampa Convention Center.
The four-day event will draw numismatists, who study money, from all over the world and promises to delight thousands of coin and currency enthusiasts.
Tampa coin dealer Ed Howard, owner of A Village Stamp & Coin in Carrollwood, has been in business since 1980 and will offer a wide array of U.S. coins, currency, bullion and other products at this year's FUN event.
"This isn't just a bunch of collectors getting together," Howard said. "It's the biggest coin show in Florida and one of the highlights of the year in the Southeast."
Howard is one of more than 600 coin dealers who will attend the show. Mike Fuljenz, president of Universal Coin and Bullion in Beaumont, Texas, also will travel to the event.
"Gold and silver American Eagles are through the roof this year," Fuljenz said of the strong market interest in bullion coins lately. "It's like Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined."
Fuljenz, who has been featured on several television news networks including Fox and CNN, said the show also will be an economic boon for the community.
"Cities where major coin shows are held normally see an uptick in fine dining and wine sales," he said. "Coin dealers who come in work hard all day and tip well, too.
"The beauty of the FUN show is that it's being held in January, when there are a lot of snowbirds in Tampa, and it's a unique opportunity to introduce the city to those who want to get away from the snow and make the community a second home or future permanent home."
FUN president Randy Campbell has been a member of the nonprofit organization for nearly 40 years. He said the annual event keeps growing each year.
"The show draws attendees from every major continent," Campbell said. "This geographic diversity is reflected in the coins and paper currency offered at the show."
While most coin dealers come from each corner of the United States, some hail from England and Germany.
Heritage Auctions, one of the leading coin auctioneers, will provide one of the highlights with a major coin auction. Several million dollars of rare and valuable coins are slated to cross the block.
While the FUN show is a place for locals and tourists alike to buy and sell coins, it also offers several exhibits, all of which are free.
"We will have rare and valuable coins on display, many of which even seasoned collectors don't usually get to see," Campbell said.
Convention coordinator Cindy Wibker said the show also provides many great learning opportunities for the public.
"We will have 16 educational forums presented by the nation's leading experts," Wibker said. "These seminars address topics such as consumer awareness, fraud protection and detecting altered and doctored paper currency."
Other seminars will cater to collectors with more specialized areas of interest, such as 19th century United States Liberty Seated coins, silver dollars and Jefferson nickels.
Wibker said the FUN show is usually held in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale or Orlando because those are the only three cities in Florida with venues large enough to host the event. FUN was last held in Tampa in 2011.
"I sent out a survey to all dealers in the booths at the 2011 event," she said. "They love the support from the Tampa community. The Tampa Convention Center is the perfect size and shape for our event.
"We'll be back in 2018."
Contact Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org.