We've all seen the name Mercanti in connection with the current active market in the 2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary set of 5 coins. I'd be interested in comments from NGC forum members about his signed coin labels, even though his signature apparently only appears on PCGS labels. In the meantime, I'll make a couple comments of my own.
I've seen no reason to doubt that Mercanti is a highly skilled coin engraver, recently retired from the US Mint. He's also been a prolific coin designer, but in that respect, there are some doubts about his excellence. His obverse of the American Platinum Eagles has been criticized for making Lady Liberty much too masculine. His reverse of the American Silver Eagles has been criticized for being unimaginative.
Still, whether or not you're especially pleased with any of his many coin designs, it might be nice to have his autograph on the label of a coin of which he designed at least one side.
I've seen American Platinum Eagles with his autographed labels, and of the ones I remember seeing, they usually commanded no premium, or at least they went unsold if a premium was required.
With the current craze for 2011 American Silver Eagles, the sets with Mercanti signed labels initially went for a substantial premium, but I noticed on ebay today that is no longer true, and they seem to be selling at a slight discount in regard to some other labels for the set. If Mercanti had signed the labels for only a strictly limited number of sets, say 100 sets, already meaning 500 signatures, probably the premium would still be there. However, he apparently signed far too many. He signed so many he may have gotten writer's cramp in the process.
Wasn't PCGS charging an extra $10 per Mercanti signed label? How much of that $10 went to Mercanti himself? Were all of the signed labels also First Strikes? Did he sign at the offices of PCGS, where they could watch to make sure it was him signing, or did he do them on his kitchen table at home, where maybe his wife did some of them, since she also signs his checks and credit card forms when she goes shopping at the mall? Couldn't they also have added another nuance, perhaps termed First Signatures, with a special higher premium label, for the first few weeks that Mercanti submitted to them the labels he signed, or for the labels done before any particular pen ran out of ink and had to be refilled?
The other news about Mercanti is that he has become a paid spokesperson for Goldline, the bullion company endorsed by Glenn Beck. Whether or not you are a fan of Glenn Beck's politics or showmanship, Goldline is probably not the best place to obtain your bullion, and they are on the spot nowadays, being charged with alleged numerous counts of deceptive marketing practices. Mercanti has not been charged, and is undoubtedly innocent of any wrongdoing, but it's not a connection to boast about.