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Striking gold with Obama.

Americans are snapping up mementos to commemorate President-elect Barack Obama's election - from plates and coins to sneakers - but experts are skeptical they will ever become valuable collectibles. The zeal for Obama merchandise has not flagged since he was elected on November 4 as the first black US president, even as Americans suffer a weak economy. "This is definitely the most aggressive rush for memorabilia items that we've seen in a long time," said Steve Ferber, part-owner of Arizona-based Lori Ferber Collectibles, who saw newspapers sell for as much as $75. GreatSeats.com is seeing high demand for tickets to events surrounding Obama's January 20 inauguration, said owner Danny Matta, adding that he suspects many customers want to hold on to the tickets as keepsakes. "It's not like anything else I've seen before," said Matta. "It may actually be topping Hannah Montana, which is big." TeleBrands Corp, a New Jersey company that markets gadgets such as pet manicuring tool PediPaws on television, is selling its first commemorative presidential "victory plate". AJ Khubani, the company's president, said he came up with the idea for the $19.99 plate as he watched the excitement on Election Day. Agnes Sammons, a New Jersey retiree, has started collecting Obama mementos to pass on to her two grandchildren, aged five and two. At the moment she has her eye on a "Barack Obama Presidential Commemorative Coin" for $9.99. "I've been in this world for 78 years, I'm so happy that I got to see this," said Sammons, who is black. The election will heal wounds caused by the US history of segregation and slavery, she said. "To me, a lot of that is put aside." Those who bought newspapers for $75 right after the election may have to wait as long as 50 years to even recoup their costs because so many copies exist, Ferber said. An example of a more valuable item, he said, is a copy of the famous Chicago Tribune newspaper printed before President Harry Truman had clinched his victory in 1948. It said "Dewey Defeats Truman." The rare paper sells for $1,300 on Ferber's web site. A reproduction of the front page costs $21.95 at the online bookseller Abe Books. Mementos such as campaign buttons going as far back as Truman's presidency for sale online are mostly under $5, with the most optimistic offers at around $20. The web abounds with such offers, ranging from throw pillows and coasters to more personal items such as "I have a crush on Obama" thong underwear for women. Even the pet constituency is not left out, with T-shirts reading "Patriotic Bulldogs for Obama" and campaign buttons that declare "Meow for Change."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 1, 2008
Words:462
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