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Gold on the Shores of Lake Michigan

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Over the past week or so, the eyes of collectors and investors have again turned to gold. After crossing the $1,500 mark, gold had taken a bit of a breather. Perhaps some felt it had reached its contemporary zenith. Or it had become too pricey for those wanting to buy.

Of course, the sellers were still active. Just two weeks ago, many began unloading much of what they owned, pushing the price of gold down to $1,475. Silver also dropped to $35 after a high of $50 just a month earlier. In the big scheme of things, and compared to traditional investments, those are major moves.

But as I said, it seems to have been just a breather. Too much doubt about international debt and economies has made speculators reconsider the shiny metals. Prices are again on the rise.

Chicago has long been an epicenter for high finance and commodities. Thanks to its location on the shore of Lake Michigan, it's also a popular tourist destination. In just two months, the two will come together when the American Numismatic Association (ANA) holds its 2011 World's Fair of Money. Perhaps more than any show before it, this will showcase a virtual sea of gold and silver.

Several times a year, conventions and exhibitions are held in different parts of the country at which dealers from around the world and country come to buy, sell, trade or appraise items collectors may have or want. But, just once a year does the king of shows take place. This is it.

Scheduled for Aug. 16 through Aug. 20 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, there will of course be legions that want to see what they can profit from by buying low or selling high. Sadly, that rarely happens. Numismatics has become far too scientific for that. Precise grading and certification has taken most all of the guesswork out of the hobby. Does that mean the fun is gone? Anything but. Collectors will be sure to uncover great finds as they pour through merchandise the dealers have.

Still, there are also different and more valuable profits to find at a show such as the World's Fair of Money.

Those come in the form of exhibits, seminars and displays the likes of which can be found nowhere else. It's because of those educational opportunities that many casual collectors have been able to discover rarities that might otherwise have been overlooked.

At this year's convention, the thousands of visitors will be able to view some of the world's greatest rarities, including a pristine example of the 1793 Chain "Ameri" cent, considered by most as the very first official coin struck in the United States. It contains no gold or silver and only a few pennies worth of copper. Doesn't matter. It's currently valued at over $2 million.

Also on display will be a historic Gobrecht Dollar, a complete collection of $20 gold Double Eagle gold coins and patterns, a 1913 Liberty "V" Nickel (of which only five exist) and the coveted Idler/Bebee specimen of the 1804 silver dollar. The latter, valued at $3 million or more, is the most sought-after silver dollar in all of collecting.

Many of the coins on display will be from the Smithsonian collection and rarely seen by the public. The same is true for paper money. Paper currency is an area that, in just the past decade or so, has begun to soar in collector popularity. Many new collectors have found that bills they may have had for years are worth far more today than ever before. In other words, what may have once been considered only an amusing oddity from the past or even clutter is oftentimes now quite valuable.

There are far too many activities and details about the show to include in this column, but all details are available at the convention website: www.WorldsFairOfMoney.com. On the site is also a discount coupon for non-ANA members to save on admission. Naturally, hotels are filling up quickly, so those traveling from outside the area need to make plans for accommodations.

In a nutshell, for anyone who appreciates history or is interested in learning about rare coins and currency, a virtual treasure trove awaits in Chicago. And yes, one step inside of the show will underscore the fact that a sea of gold and silver exists on the shores of Lake Michigan, at least for a few days in August.

Editor's Note: A visual of the rare 1804 silver dollar has been sent with this column.

To find out more about Peter Rexford and features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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