Hundreds of professional coin and paper money dealers from around the world were busy Monday setting up shop in Rosemont to prepare for the opening day of the World's Fair of Money.
Security was tight, considering more than $1 billion worth of rare money was being brought into Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, but it was clear there was excitement in the air.
Collectors were seen carefully setting currency ranging from 2,500-year-old coins to U.S. bills with the busts of Native Americans on them into glass boxes illuminated by small overhead lights.
About 10,000 people are expected to attend the five-day fair, which is sponsored by the American Numismatic Association. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $6 and children ages 12 and under are free.
Besides being a destination for collectors, the association -- which stresses "money is history you can hold in your hands" -- has a mini museum, multiple exhibits and lecture areas set up at the fair.
"It's not only about buying and selling. It's about education," said association president Tom Hallenbeck.
Many vendors will provide free consultations to visitors who bring in old or rare coins.
One highlight of the fair that coin enthusiasts and the general public are sure to enjoy is the new $100 bill, which is set to go into circulation Oct. 8.
The bill has a blue tint and includes a security ribbon woven into the front with images of the Liberty Bell. A bigger "100" and the back of Independence Hall are found on the opposite side of the bill.
"We wanted to make sure this note was absolutely perfect," said Kevin Brown, marketing manager for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "We will have the most secure currency out there."
The bureau also will have demonstrations on a printing press from the 1860s and put $100,000 bills on display.
Those interested in historical American currency will be thrilled to check out the four-piece set of 1783 Nova Constellatio coins. Valued at $15 million, the set features the first patterns for a United States coinage system.
Kevin Lipton, a dealer from Beverly Hills, Calif. who represents the anonymous owner of the set, said the coins proved to the world at the time that the United States was a sovereign nation that could produce its own coins.
"They're so important," he said, adding that two of the coins are the only ones of their kind that have ever been found. "They don't belong only in a safety deposit box. The coin people are the ones that are going to appreciate it the most."
For more information on the fair, visit www.WorldsFairOfMoney.com.