Oberth is the creator of RoundTable Trading and Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers
By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
For those who are not aware, about five years ago, Rob Oberth, a Marietta, Georgia rare coin dealer, had the foresight to understand the amazing potential of social media and numismatics. Initially, he started the Facebook group Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers (CDHCD) to unite veterans of the hobby with the next generation of numismatic professionals.
Since then, his brainchild has blossomed into one of the most important trading platforms in all of numismatics. An amazing amount of business is conducted there every day.
The following interview gives readers the opportunity to find out about RoundTable Trading and his vision for the future of his platforms and the hobby.
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Jeff Garrett: What gave you the idea of creating a Facebook group for numismatic professionals, and why did you think it would succeed?
Rob Oberth: I felt that professional numismatists needed a safe and secure place to communicate and trade amongst each other in real-time that is also fresh and innovative.
J: Can you tell us about the explosive growth of RoundTable Trading and what it has become in a relatively short time?
R: It is difficult to explain how or why the RoundTable exploded in popularity. I think that there was a large segment of our trading community that has been left out of some of the platforms that were either too expensive or outdated in technology.
J: Please explain the various platforms of RoundTable Trading and, for our readers, how retail collectors can participate.
R: Coin Dealers Helping Coin Dealers is our flagship trading platform for professional numismatists. Here, we run auctions that tend to rival some of the major auction houses on pricing except we can move items much faster. Virtual Coin Show on Facebook is our retail trading group that has over 6,000 members. This group is not vetted nearly to the level of our wholesale groups but is a very viable venue to buy, sell and converse with the broader community.
J: One of the biggest issues for many dealers and collectors is safety. Can you describe your dealer vetting and moderator system for settling disputes and making high-level decisions?
R: We pride ourselves on striving to be the pre-eminent brand when it comes to member vetting and acceptance. I personally approve each and every one of our over 800 members. All of our members are peer-nominated and reviewed. Additionally, we have a team of moderators that are available 24/7 to handle any disputes that may arise. After we build a consensus, we handle disputes swiftly and fairly.
J: What makes RoundTable Trading special and different from the more established trading networks?
R: Our fast-paced yet easy-to-use network is like no other. We have harnessed the power of social media to build a network that has quickly become the No. 1 trading network in numismatics. Real-time trading and pricing is something that our community has needed since its inception. We have truly built a 24/7/365 coin show online.
J: For me, one of the most important benefits of RoundTable Trading is the community aspect and the free exchange of information. What are your thoughts on the community you have created?
R: It seems that one of the unintended benefits of this group is the camaraderie that has evolved. We have all become a family and have been able to connect with friends that we haven’t seen in years, sometimes decades. Our in-person trade-and-grades, RoundTable bashes, and pre-show trading rooms have become the “can’t miss” events at major shows across the country.
J: Tell us how RoundTable Trading has helped your business grow and strengthened your numismatic relationships.
R: This is a great question and one I don’t hear often. When it comes to Rob Oberth “the coin dealer”, I am the poster child for someone whom this group benefits greatly. The access to pricing information, the valuable conversations that happen every day, the access to hundreds of small coin shops and major market makers across the nation have propelled my coin shop into the stratosphere. I have not seen growth like this since the 2009 boom.
J: I have noticed quite a few auctions and the excitement they generate in recent months. Can you tell our readers about your auction format and how it is different from the major auction houses?
R: We have formed a brand-new feature in RoundTable that has caught on quite well. Our auctions are now organized so that our members know what is ending and can easily follow them. Our auctions have historically and consistently realized numbers that were previously only achievable at major auction houses. We also have the fastest turnaround in the business which is more important now in this boom market than it has ever been.
J: RoundTable Trading has established several important strategic alliances with major numismatic players, including signing NGC as your official grading service. Can you tell us more about these partnerships and why they are important?
R: Early on in our growth, NGC recognized our trajectory and began to build a relationship with RoundTable. Their recognition and partnership has been invaluable to our members. Our other allies are Coin World, Willis Towers Watson, and Aureus POS.
J: A few years ago, you and I worked together to create the enormously successful Great American Coin Hunt. Tell us more about that and your plans for the future.
R: This was another program where I saw tremendous potential. Rallying hundreds of coin dealers and thousands of collectors to give back to the hobby in such a way had never been done, while simultaneously encouraging new collectors to look at their change. Basically, the plan was to spend over one million collectible coins in regular circulation. Everybody who participated created their own way of helping out. Hiding coins in public places, Easter eggs. The US Mint created a West Point quarter for circulation, which had never been done before. Companies like NGC, PCGS, Littleton, the ANA, all participated with their own creative programs. It has been said that this was the largest numismatic promotional program of all time.
J: Speaking of giving back, tell us why you decided to run for a seat on the ANA Board of Governors. Also, how have you been able to contribute in the last two years?
R: The ANA, in my mind, has always been the leading organization for promoting numismatics. I have a lot of ideas that go through my mind that I think would tremendously benefit membership and the ANA itself. Education being our main mandate, I felt that a plethora of programs could use some updating. It is my hope to consolidate, rebrand and invigorate our educational programs into a single cohesive program that would become the shining light in 21st-century numismatic education.
Camaraderie being the second most important component to any social club, I felt it was important to expand our reach on social media. Building the ANA’s first officially approved Facebook group was integral in this move. I feel that I have brought tremendous value and insight to the board with the projects that I have initiated or contributed to.
J: Congratulations on your recent successful election, by the way!
R: Thank you! It’s been a great experience, and I am humbled to be able to contribute to such a fantastic organization.
J: A lot of hobby veterans complain about the aging demographics of the hobby and the lack of young participants. Your platforms seem to attract the younger crowd. What are your thoughts on this subject?
R: This is something that has been a concern for quite a while. We are looking to change that by encouraging and nurturing the growth of a much younger demographic of coin dealers. Although we have very active dealers in their 80s and 90s, nearly half of our membership is between the ages of 18 and 40. We also have a higher-than-average female membership.
J: Finally, what do you think the hobby of numismatics will look like 10 years from now? Any ideas on the “next big thing”?
R: I believe virtual content and engagement are only going to continue to grow. This community will become closer as we build relationships online that spill over into the physical trade shows. Every day, I meet new friends online, and by the time the next show comes around, it is that much easier to break the ice and engage in person.
As RoundTable continues to build a relationship with collectors, coin shops large and small, major entities like the US Mint, eBay, the Smithsonian, and others, and as the Great American Coin Hunt continues to mature and evolve, as we continue to reach out and build collaborations with other hobbies like the sports cards, gaming, and jewelry industries, I believe our hobby is going to flourish far into the future.
The next big thing is the individual reader of this article. Collectively, we are the hobby, and it is important for each of us to move the needle forward a little more every day. That is what the RoundTable and the Great American Coin Hunt are all about.
J: How can our readers inquire about what RoundTable has to offer?
R: Readers looking to join our wholesale network can find more information on RoundTableTrading.com. And if you are a collector or simply interested in learning about coins, you can search Facebook for “Virtual Coin Show on Facebook.” We are always looking forward to meeting new people.
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