Mercanti signed coin labels
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wasn't PCGS charging an extra $10 per Mercanti signed label?

I think the Mercanti signed labels were a private dealers arrangement with PCGS. PCGS provided the blank labels for signing and then the labels went back to PCGS to be used for printing and being used for the slabs. If they are like a lot of the "signed" label issues I have seen the signatures are probably autopenned. How much the dealer had to pay PCGS I have no idea.

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A Mercanti PF/MS 69 25th Anniversary set sold last night for $690...hope they didn't pay too much for the sig premium

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The best work an engraver of John Mercanti's caliber is often not what the public sees. He is an astute, creative artist and one of the few who understand both old and new ways of making coin and medal designs, and producing them.

 

I've found him to be a person of high integrity and responsibility. I doubt any business association could change that.

 

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I think that the whole autographed slab tag thing is silly, not matter who signs it.

 

I agree 100%!!

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This is an old thread but it interests me. Wait 25 or more years until Mercanti has passed from this life. What would a Morgan or Peace silver dollar be worth if the chief engraver had signed a piece of paper encased within a plastic capsule with the silver dollar? I would pay more for it.

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What would a Morgan or Peace silver dollar be worth if the chief engraver had signed a piece of paper encased within a plastic capsule with the silver dollar?

What would it be worth if he had signed thousands of them?

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This is an old thread but it interests me. Wait 25 or more years until Mercanti has passed from this life. What would a Morgan or Peace silver dollar be worth if the chief engraver had signed a piece of paper encased within a plastic capsule with the silver dollar? I would pay more for it.

What would a 1963 proof set be worth today had Gilroy Roberts signed every tag that's sealed inside?

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This is an old thread but it interests me. Wait 25 or more years until Mercanti has passed from this life. What would a Morgan or Peace silver dollar be worth if the chief engraver had signed a piece of paper encased within a plastic capsule with the silver dollar? I would pay more for it.

 

It's not a comparable scenario. Mercanti has made a business of signing, getting paid for doing it in massive quantities. Those signatures for hire usually have little value, usually less than what was shelled out for them originally, although admittedly it's a fairly recent phenomenon to be paid money for your signature, going back maybe only about 50 years, in sports such as baseball, involving superstars like Joe Dimaggio.

 

Signatures for cash payments are often less desirable for reasons even beyond the rather unsavory circumstances, unsavory as far as I'm concerned, and also beyond just the oversaturation of the autograph market.

 

Hired signatures usually differ from that person's candid signature because consciously or unconsciously an attempt is made to render it more decipherable, and also a person's signature tends to change a little during prolonged sessions of signing.

 

Signatures gain value when there is an aspect of uniqueness to them, such as with a dedication to someone, a handwritten date, or any indication it was not mass produced. A Mercanti signature might be relatively valuable if you happened to have recognized him in the airport while waiting for a flight, and if he had uniquely signed and dated the COA of one of your mint sets, without getting from you anything more than a thank you and a smile.

 

I actually own one slabbed Mercanti signed coin, it's a 1999 one ounce proof platinum eagle, graded PCGS 70, in an older PCGS holder, contemporary with 1999. At the time I bought it, PCGS had graded fewer than 50 1999 proof Pt eagles as 70s, and the various others I have seen are unsigned. Probably there are only a few signed 70s. Furthermore, Mercanti was the designer for both sides of that coin, not just one side as with silver eagles. And Mercanti's 1999 Pt eagle reverse in my opinion is the best of all his coin art.

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OK, informed collectors are interested in the market grade when evaluating modern coins. So the question becomes if you are comparing equally graded coins and one of the coins has a "Mercanti" autograph, is there any market value added?

 

IMHO any added value is an artifact of marketing and any collector drawn into the web is welcome to the realities of trying to sell the value of an autograph versus the true market value of the coin.

 

Best wishes to anyone that buys a coin with a valuation based on anyone's autograph.

 

Carl

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There is no added value to the coin for having a JM signature. To think there would be a premium is a bit naive, don't you think?

 

Coins are coins and autographs are autographs. Mix the two and you have nothing more than the sum of the two parts.

 

JM's signature is not rare nor will it ever be rare. Not 500 years from now. Much like President Gerald Ford who signed thousands of signatures in his life, the supply will always be greater than the demand and that is why it is a novelty and nothing more.

 

If I wanted to really marry the two entities together I would be looking for vintage signatures that are not common at all in the coin world. Of course, you would still be collecting two different things and one would not affect the value of the other.

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I certainly agree with MBJ about the oversaturation of the autograph market forever when it comes to prolific signers such as Gerald Ford, and especially for John Mercanti who is barely a minor celebrity. And as can be judged by my previous comments, I'm not JM's biggest fan, although of course I do appreciate his numismatic career and contributions.

 

But MBJ has gone much too far in generalizing about coins and autographs when he claimed that combining them can provide no added value. In fact most valuable autographs are due to combinations of things, signed artifacts, for example letters with significant content, period photos, and sports memorabilia.

 

I can imagine a Mercanti slabbed coin deserving a decent premium under the right conditions, or, deserving no added value whatsoever under other conditions. As a case in point, please consider this current ebay auction for a year 2000 gold/platinum bimetallic Library of Congress commemorative coin:

 

ebay item 190843835995

 

It's in a brand new slab, in which a slip of paper with Mercanti's signature was enclosed. We can assume Mercanti never saw this individual coin, and PCGS merely used a signed slip from a pile they have waiting around. To me this deserves no premium whatsoever, as MBJ will surely agree. I'd negatively endorse this item, even if you're not bothered by the appearance of the bidding details.

 

However, if it had been slabbed and signed in 2000, before the onslaught of JM's mass produced autographs, and if we knew he had only signed a very few of them at the time, and that he had done so in person after examining the coins, maybe at some ceremony, there probably would be buyers who'd pay extra for it.

 

There is no added value to the coin for having a JM signature. To think there would be a premium is a bit naive, don't you think?

Coins are coins and autographs are autographs. Mix the two and you have nothing more than the sum of the two parts.JM's signature is not rare nor will it ever be rare. Not 500 years from now. Much like President Gerald Ford who signed thousands of signatures in his life, the supply will always be greater than the demand and that is why it is a novelty and nothing more. If I wanted to really marry the two entities together I would be looking for vintage signatures that are not common at all in the coin world. Of course, you would still be collecting two different things and one would not affect the value of the other.

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I think that the whole autographed slab tag thing is silly, not matter who signs it.

 

I agree 100%!!

 

In some cases, it is more than silly, it is absurd. I will leave out the specifics for now but I was recently reading a Coin Week article in the archives where a prominent dealer purportedly made a claim that a rare but actually obscure coin should sell for some future "moon money" price based upon its association with a past US Mint Director.

 

I find such a premise completely absurd. We are not talking about George Washington but someone who is actually a historically unknown person. Not only have virtually no non-collectors ever heard of people like this, most coin collectors have no clue who they are either and could not care less.

 

The example covered by this thread is not exactly the same but I do not see why such a signature should even be worth a dime. I can only surmise that maybe some want these signatures from any person who held the office or performed the same role. Or, to speculate and sell it to someone else for more later.

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I think that the whole autographed slab tag thing is silly, not matter who signs it.

Even if I sign it? Hater. What did I ever do to you?

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I think you guys are making a little too much fuss about this.

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Where do you find or how to navigate to find actual prices for signed eagle coins? Was able to navigate on line and find quantities of such signed coins, but does not give actual prices for NCG.

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You put that very well, I'm just ignorant to the fact or fiction of having a Mercanti signature really means anything. I've noticed personally coin shops go straight to Ebay as there source of evaluating a coins value. That kills me!!! It's like going to Ebay to evaluate the price of a car instead of Kelly Blue Book. That's another subject.  Thanks for your reply, Patrick

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I signed my own baseball one day. It's the only one like it !

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On 1/8/2018 at 5:16 PM, Patrick's Coins said:

You put that very well, I'm just ignorant to the fact or fiction of having a Mercanti signature really means anything. I've noticed personally coin shops go straight to Ebay as there source of evaluating a coins value. That kills me!!! It's like going to Ebay to evaluate the price of a car instead of Kelly Blue Book. That's another subject.  Thanks for your reply, Patrick

PCGS uses Ebay auctions on their site.. isn't that silly?

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I think if they really wanted these to command a premium they would have limited them more.

They can be interesting. Nothing wrong with them if you're into that. I wouldn't pay a premium for it.

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Seems they deliberately hide the exact numbers. Special labels should all be limited edition or why bother?  having 90% of coins labeled "first strike" is also very misleading.

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I can see a signature carrying a slight price premium or even a special label, that at least makes a little sense to me for a person who is collecting signatures, labels, etc. Kind of like someone who collects TPG holders.

What I disagree with is when the labels are awarded additional points or given slots in the registries. As a hypothetical example a 2020 ASE with Mercanti signature label or "one of" label should not carry a point premium or be given a separate slot in a standard ASE set. To me the coin is the coin and unless there is some physical marker on the coins to differentiate between them then they should be scored the same. A label or a coin received in original mint packaging that gets a special label designation, etc. should not carry a point premium or receive slots in standard sets. 

I'm starting to see slots for labels creep into the registries and/or point premiums for "one of" labels, I hope it doesn't start to get out of hand.

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Glad to see this ancient thread resurrected. My latest thought on the subject is that Mercanti mass-produced signature labels can actually reduce the value of a slabbed coin simply because of the perception of gullibility.  The idea is that either the seller or somebody along the line was conned into thinking there was added value to having the signature included.  Ultimately, when you try showing off your collection to a knowledgable numismatist, they will then scoff at you for having paid extra for an enclosed Mercanti signature, it will become an embarrassment, you can be shamed for possessing it.

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Being conned and/or shamed is sometimes the price of an education in numismatics.

The custom label market shows no signs of slowing down, and will only get worse (more popular) if the TPG's keep fanning the flames by further pandering to labels in the registries. People's competitive nature, mob mentality, public perception of value (and actual value/asking prices at the time of release), numismatic knowledge or lack thereof and the ability to get an "atta boy" from someone within typing distance will keep them grabbing at the next shinny thing. 

In the end there is a market and I don't begrudge people who collect or sell such things if they enjoy it, can make a buck or these things appreciate in value more power to them. How long it will last is anyone's guess, looks like going on 8 1/2 years judging by this thread. When I see 2020 silver Krugerrands with Tumi signed labels going for $500+, I can't help but ask myself is this it, is this the breaking point? The answer to date has been an emphatic no, designer labels are here to stay.

I took a look at Heritage's auction records for 2011 PCGS, ASE Mercanti signed First Strike sets and from 2011-2013 the sell prices were around $1,350 2014-2018 price dropped to around $800 then in 2019 the last set sold for $1,200. The Bay seams to reflect this pricing with the same sets currently available for +/- $800. It's actually hard to find a non Mercanti signed set, as such I wasn't able to make a comparison between Mercanti and a standard label at the moment. These prices are not necessarily reflective of the labels popularity but probably more a reflection of the 2011 ASE set as a whole. Maybe someone else will have more info for a better comparison. Interesting, glad to see this resurrected. May have to do more research on this.

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