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BEST BET

February 03, 1991

Ancient coins, rare stamps, antique jewelry, popular baseball cards, sports memorabilia, even some sports celebrities--that will be the stock in trade when an exposition for collectors and traders opens Thursday in Long Beach.

The four-day show, officially called the Long Beach Numismatic, Philatelic and Baseball Card Exposition, will have more than 600 different booths with an estimated 2,500 dealers. About 100 of the booths will be devoted to sports memorabilia, 40 will feature stamps, and another 100 will have foreign and ancient coins. The promoters say it is one of the largest collector conventions in the world.

In a special section devoted to ancient coins, collectors can see coins more than 2,000 years old that can be purchased for as low as $25.

On Thursday night there will be a rare coin auction. Small-time collectors can mingle with big-time investors and numismatic professionals in bidding for coins in the excitement of a real auction.

People who wonder whether their prize pieces are of any value can bring their coins, antique jewelry or other old collectibles for a free appraisal offered by many dealers on the expo floor. Another booth will have the Sports Card Authentication Grading Service, at which collectors can have their cards graded by authorities and sealed in protective holders.

From noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, hometown products Tony Gwynn, four-time National League batting champ and outfielder for the San Diego Padres, and Los Angeles Dodger Chris Gwynn will be available to sign autographs for a fee. On Sunday, Mike Harkey of the Chicago Cubs, 1990 National League rookie pitcher of the year, will be signing autographs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd. Admission is $2 and is good all four days. For further information, call 437-0819. Sam Lopresto, owner of a Long Beach coin and jewelry firm, has managed the show since 1979. Future shows are scheduled May 30 to June 2 and Oct. 10 to 13.

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