The crowd gathers slowly at first on the street corner of the "media village" at the Democratic convention.

The goods are shown.The price is set.

The deal is going down.

In swoops the Georgia State Patrol.

They join the dealers, take out their collections of souvenir lapel pins and start to trade.

"I want an NBC peacock," said Trooper A.J. Bacon, holding a piece of cardboard containing his collection.

Some, including a set of captain's bars and other police uniform decorations, were for trade. Others were just to show off.

About 50 people were gathered in small knots that looked like the trading pit on the floor of a commodity exchange. This exchange was at the corner of John F. Kennedy Blvd. and Lyndon B. Johnson Ave. in the cable-strewn, curtain-draped press center across the street from The Omni convention hall.

"We started with one button (Kodak), now we got 100-150. It just gets wild around here," said Trooper Bob Sanders.

He said button trading was a good ice-breaker to help the police and newspeople to get acquainted. But the rule was buyer beware: Some pins were better than others.

"I'll give you three for that one," said one fellow who strolled up, pointing to square button that said "CBS News 1988."

"CBS News is not moving," Sanders replied.

"I'll give you my firstborn for it," said the newsman.

Another CBS pin - a simple, unblinking brass eye - also was hot. So was the Time magazine pin, a red-and-blue rectangle that resembles the magazine's cover except it doesn't say "Time."

The Associated Press had flooded the market with its corporate pins, and so had Gannett.

"They're fourth-rate," said Noel Villers, a 14-year-old pin shark from Concord, Mass.

Not everything was for swapping.

When a reporter asked Sanders what he would take for his badge, the trooper replied: "When that goes, I have to go with it."