In the fall of 1955, a small group of coin collectors and dealers met in Clearwater, Florida at the Fort Harrison Hotel to organize a state-wide association of numismatists. Several attempts to organize such an organization in years past had been unsuccessful because there were only a few coin clubs in the state and not really a great many active collectors.
The subject had been discussed in the Tampa bay area from time to time but it was not until the summer of 1955 that the idea was given impetus when a well known dealer and collector, Herb A. Brand, met in Clearwater with several coin collectors and dealers and at that time suggested a coin show to be held in Clearwater. A group of Clearwater collectors, led by Bob Hendershott, issued a call for such a meeting to be held the first week in December, 1955 for the purpose of organizing a state numismatic association. The first meeting was attended by a number of prominent collectors and dealers from the north as well as the south, because they were looking for a reason to come to Florida in the winter months. This is the reason the FUN show is held during those months today. This is why many of the organization's biggest and most active supporters were then, and remain to this date, outside the state.
Several good suggestions were made for a name but the final selection was Florida United Numismatists, Inc. or FUN as the organization has since been known. The catchy slogan, "FUN in the Sun" had to evolve.
The first show opened that first weekend in December with 10 dealers having bourse tables, several small exhibits and a little less than 400 people in total attendance. William Fox Steinberg conducted a short auction, standing on a chair in the middle of the bourse room.
Committees were formed and a set of by-laws was adopted. The first permanent president elected was Robert Hendershott, and charter memberships were later closed out at 110 official charter members. Herb Brand became member number 1 and Orlando was selected as the next site for the annual meeting which the by-laws stated to be held in January of each year.
FUN has made history in numismatics several times over the years. In 1959 it held the first major silent auction in the history of coin conventions. Officials in Jacksonville would not allow the group to conduct their regular member auction without paying a $2,500 fee. Instead blackboards were placed around the room which listed the number of the auction lots. Bids were taken on slips of paper, then posted on the boards with additional bids taken up to a closing time when the high bids were declared the winner. Not a word was spoken.
Another first in numismatics occurred in 1960 when the FUN annual convention was held in St Petersburg and Grover Criswell conducted an outdoor auction, under the stars and waving palm trees. FUN has progressed with the usual growing pains throughout the years but with the help of many friends and dedicated members, FUN has grown to the size it is today. Our annual convention has an average of over 500 bourse tables and attendance near 10,000. We look forward to many more years serving the numismatic community and hope you will share the FUN experience with us.
L to R: Bob Hendershott, Douglas Brown, H.A. Brand and Jack Sweetman
W. Fox "Foxy" Steinberg
Grady L. Radford
Grover Criswell, Jr.
Harry O. Adams