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Picking up steam

“Activity and sales at CPMX snowballed as the show progressed,” said dealer Fred Bart of Roseville, Mich., about the 15th Annual Chicago Paper Money Exposition, March 5-8, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center in Rosemont, Ill. “It started out extremely quiet on Thursday, but by Saturday afternoon there was a quasi-electric feeling in the room.”

Bart reported strong sales in error notes and serial No. 1 notes. Despite there being interest in large-size type, he said, demand for that material seemed to be down this year over prior CPMXs. Of the overall market for paper money, he characterized it as still being good.

“I think that people are willing to buy and sell at today’s levels and are not actually greedy and expecting an unrealistic profit are doing well,” Bart said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said dealer Dave Steckling of Gold & Silver Rarities, St. Cloud, Minn., of the expo. “Krause’s always puts on a good show. I did not anticipate attendance like I’ve seen.” CPMX is sponsored by Krause Publications’ Bank Note Reporter.

Steckling said most of his sales were in world notes. He believes the current economic downturn has increased interest in this area of the currency market, as it offers lower priced alternatives for collectors.
Another dealer who experienced good sales in world notes was Lowell Horwedel of Horwedel’s Currency, West Lafayette, Ind. Interviewed on Saturday, during the four-day expo, he said the show had “been very good so far,” with world notes being the most popular among the material he offered on the bourse. He also sold quite a few Nationals.

“The traffic has been very, very good, and I think overall the show is very good,” said Bill Grubb of Olde Mill Currency, Telford, Pa. Although he’s optimistic about the market’s future, he noted that “People are very cautious about wanting to spend their money and they’re looking for high quality stuff at a price they can afford.”

Stephen Perakis of Alex Perakis Coins & Currency, Inc., Lima, Pa., came into the show with some apprehension about the market.

“We did a lot better than we expected,” he said. “With the overall economy, you can’t help but be a little conservative, at least a little anxious about what the show might bring. Yesterday [Friday, March 6] was wonderful. We saw a lot of old customers. Attendance was decent and we sold a good bit of notes.”

Perakis said business has remained good across the board.

“It seems we are focusing more on the more affordable $2,500 and less items,” he said. “The ultra rarities still seem to find buyers provided they are kind of the pinnacle of what that category might be.”
Dealer Larry Falater of Allen, Mich., was also pleased with his expo results.

“It exceeded my expectations,” Falater said, “and although there are only two stock certificate dealers here, I sold quite a bit of stock certificates in addition to the paper money, and one of things that I found interesting this year is that people seem to be interested in esoteric items, so that helped my sales immensely. .

“I was able to buy some interesting things also. I am very satisfied with the show.”

CPMX convention chairman Kevin Foley noted that despite the economy, this year’s expo was surprisingly active. He reported attendance at around 400, with 20 people paying the fee to enter the bourse during Thursday’s Professional Preview period and 365 regular paid attendees on Friday and Saturday, along with roughly 20 more free attendees during Sunday’s bourse.

“The show began, I felt, on Thursday, at the beginning of the dealer set-up period, quite slowly, with quite a subdued level of business activity,” Foley said. “It built slowly and by mid afternoon, in the midst of the Professional Preview, it seemed to be quite active.

He added that “a number of the dealers who deal especially in Confederate and obsolete material have told me that they’ve had very good shows, much better than they expected.

“Some of the people who deal in federal material, where values have admittedly declined and declined quite significantly over the past several months, have told me that they have a lot of interest at the current, lower price levels, but that it is more challenging for them to buy simply because many holders of material purchased at higher levels are unwilling to accept the reality that their items are not worth what they were when they bought them.”

Of the market, he said, “What I tell people when they ask me about the market and its future is that my crystal ball is very cloudy right now, so I really didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

“One of the things I always try to remind myself about is that there is not one single item for sale on the floor of the Chicago Paper Money Expo that anyone needs to buy. This is 100 percent discretionary spending. And given what are called current economic circumstances, it is actually quite surprising to me to hear how noisy and busy it is in the room.”

Dates for the 16th Annual Chicago Paper Money Exposition are March 18-21, 2010, at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel and Convention Center, 5440 N. River Road, Rosemont IL 60018. For additional information, contact Kevin Foley, P.O. Box 573, Milwaukee WI 53201; telephone (414) 421-3484; e-mail kfoley2@wi.rr.com.

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