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Big Crowds Expected for World's Fair of Money

John Foxx/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- This summer, Americans have heard a lot about how the nation's money is in short supply. That's one reason why some rare money on display is drawing huge crowds.

The World's Fair of Money is under way in Chicago, showing off $20 gold coins worth millions and uncut sheets of $100,000 dollar bills accompanied by armed guards. Normally, this exhibit by the American Numismatic Association, held in different cities each year, lures 10,000 to 15,000 visitors.

But according to association spokesman Donn Pearlman, this year's show is on pace to attract even more. "There's a renewed interest in gold and tangible assets. More investors are showing up with the collectors. This is the gold, silver and bullion coin trading capital of the universe this week", says Pearlman.

And this city is in a "panic atmosphere," reports Scott Travers from the floor of the show. Travers, the author of The Coin Collector's Survival Manual, tells ABC News: "I have never seen the type of feverish demand for gold coins that I am seeing at this show. People are fearful and want to protect what they have with hard money."

While the show includes rarities like a gold coin minted during the California Gold Rush and now valued at $15 million, more typical items like $20 gold coins from the 1920s are just as much the center of attention. They are seen as a smart investment, says Travers, because their value among collectors is about equal to the value of the ounce of gold that's in them, now around $1,863. "So there's very little downside to them. If gold goes down in value, collectors (who prize the coins for their beauty or historical significance) will still pay about that price. And if gold goes up in value, then the coins become worth even more." Travers says that "dealers at the show can't get enough product to keep up" with the frenzied demand.

The association's director, Larry Shepherd, also believes the record crowds are swelled by people "looking for safer places to put their money. They see that hard assets like silver and bullion and rare coins have gone the opposite way of more conventional assets" like stocks and bonds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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