This week the job of the AoC Market Report falls to me. And I want to share something I’ve noticed lately in the modern market.
Love them or hate them, the special slabs are actually having an outsized impact on the modern market. Well, that’s not news to anybody who collects ASEs in special slabs. But the fact is, the amount of the impact is becoming more and more significant.
A few years ago, with the mints “curved” baseball coins, we got to see what kind of an impact an important autograph can have on a common coin. It’s substantial.
American Silver Eagle: The Modern Era’s Morgan
The same is true for the modern era’s version of the Morgan Dollar. Sure, ASEs aren’t traded in daily commerce, but they are traded back and forth for cash at bullion shops. They’re not normally circulated, but they can be used as a sort of monetary instrument, exchanging the value of their metal for paper or other credit currency. And, just like Morgans were, the vast majority of them are uncirculated, sitting in boxes or vaults around the country and world.
So who doesn’t want a Mint State 70 Morgan Dollar? Simply put, “Perfect” ASEs (or those close enough to look perfect under 5x or 10x magnification) are just attainable enough to have a substantial market.
The Signed Slab Phenomenon
And the TPGs have taken these one step further, setting aside set numbers of coins for special labels. And some of these special labels are signed by numismatic or other luminaries of our time
One that caught my attention in particular is the PCGS Edmund Moy live-signed slab. Ed Moy was the Mint Director from 2006 to 2011, appointed by George Bush and remained at his post through Barack Obama’s first term as President. PCGS and then NGC started programs that included his signing labels for various American Eagle coins.
How neat would it be to have a signed document, no matter how insignificant, from Robert Preston, Director of the U.S. Mint in 1893, to accompany your 1893-CC Morgan Dollar?
Well, collectors can have a “perfect” American Silver Eagle with Ed Moy’s signature on it. We’re not talking Michael Jordan or Abraham Lincoln here, but for us coin geeks that’s kinda right up there.
The other signature that is interesting on key date coins is John Mercanti – Chief Engraver of the Mint and the guy who interpreted Weinman’s beautiful Walking Liberty for the ASE. How about having Charles Barber’s signature with your Morgan, or even better, George Morgan’s?
What are the Big Signed Slabs Up To?
So how are Ed Moy’s and John Mercanti’s signed-slab top-pop key date coins doing?
Let’s have a look. For this study, we’re going to look at the two primary key date American Silver Eagles, the 1995-W (mintage 30,125). These are obviously not scarce coins, but as ASEs have mintages in the millions. And even Proofs usually have mintages of about ten times that. Therefore, the ’95-W Proof ASE is a key date. We’re going to look at only the coins certified at 70 (still not even scarce, numismatically speaking). But we’re only going to look at the live signature Moy and Mercanti coins. These slabs are truly numismatically scarce.
It’s a little hard to tell because they don’t come up for auction often. Then again, the price difference to normal-label certified coins is fascinating. Let’s see what we can tease from this limited information.
In 2017, a PC70 1995-W came up for bid and hammered at $17,625. There are 30 coins signed by Ed Moy in PCGS holders. This coin would not certify at 70 today. It’s heavily spotted; likely a result of spotting after being holdered. This was a big problem for the certification companies.
In 2018, four NGC Proof 70 Ultra Cameos came up for auction, and one PCGS Proof 70. These coins I mention here were not in signature slabs. The NGC coins sold for between $10,200 and $13,800, while the only PCGS coin sold for $15,600. One other NGC coin sold for $19,975 in an unsigned label. I wasn’t there, but I suspect that coin brought $20k because it was a true 70, or perhaps closer than the other coins certified as such. Regardless of the accuracy of grading, that’s a pretty stout difference in price.
In contrast, 572 NG70s and 357 PC70s. I’d rather have the one with Ed Moy’s signature. Perhaps I’m not alone.
Aside: You can follow Ed Moy on Social Media. He’s on Instagram @edmundcmoy and other platforms.
There haven’t been any Mercanti-signed ’95-Ws to come up for public auction that I can locate.
That said, the auction record for the ’95-W is $78,777, set at Great Collections back in March 2013.
Here is pop data for all the coins in one place:
1995-W Proof American Silver
PCGS PR70DCAM Total Pop: 357
PCGS PR70DCAM, Moy Signature: 30
PCGS PR70DCAM, Mercanti Signature: 101
PCGS PR69DCAM Total Pop: 2,825
PCGS PR69DCAM, Moy Signature: 13
PCGS PR69DCAM, Mercanti Signature: 123
NGC PF 70 UC Total Pop: 572
NGC PF 70 UC, Moy Signature: 20
NGC PF 70 UC, Mercanti Signature: 23
NGC PF 69 UC Total Pop: 4,448
NGC PF 69 UC, Moy Signature: 18
NGC PF 69 UC, Mercanti Signature: 26
2008_W Burnished American Silver Eagle, Reverse of 2007
For what it’s worth, I also tried to look at the 2008-W Burnished Reverse of 2007 (mintage 47,000) and the Mercanti-signed coins. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of data.
Here’s what I found:
The overall auction record for the Burnished 2008-W Rev of ’07 is $1,700 (2014) for an unsigned label. The auction record for a Moy-signed label is $2,233 (2017), while the record for a Mercanti-signed is $1,400 (2018). Here, the labels are definitely worth more. It’s a much less expensive coin, too.
2008-W Burnished Silver Eagle, Reverse of 2007
PCGS MS70 Total Pop: 1,091
PCGS MS70, Moy Signature: 48
PCGS MS70, Mercanti Signature: 272
PCGS MS69 Total Pop: 4,206
PCGS MS69, Moy Signature: 51
PCGS MS69, Mercanti Signature: 202
NGC MS 70 Total Pop: 8,055
NGC MS 70, Moy Signature: 25
NGC MS 70, Mercanti Signature: 4
NGC MS 69 Total Pop: 8,952
NGC MS 69, Moy Signature: 0
NGC MS 69, Mercanti Signature: 6