Collecting coins for a hobby or as an investment is a great way to spend your time. You can find quality coins at online auctions, estate sales, and even from a private seller looking to get rid of some of their excess pieces. If you want to know the true value of your collection so you can sell some of your own coins or so you know how much to insure your silver or gold pieces for, you need to get them appraised. Here are things you can expect as part of the coin appraisal process.
In most cases the more rare a coin is, the more value it can contain, regardless of its worth in currency or where it is from. Some coins may look cool, such as buffalo nickels or dual-headed coins, but they aren't really rare and can therefore carry a lower value than you'd think. Other coins, such as Barber quarters or even misprint coins that were discontinued due to flaws are considered more rare and valuable and therefore more desirable in your collection.
The condition of the coins in your collection also matter greatly in their value, and are heavily examined during an appraisal. Coins that have not been circulated and are considered in mint condition are typically valued higher than other coins that have been handled and worn over the years, even if they are identical in year and design. Coins are graded from poor, or almost flat from wear, to uncirculated, which means they have not entered the market and/or been handled by humans. The higher the grading, the more your coins can be worth over time.
Loose coins that are simply placed in a jar can wear over time and tarnish, whereas coins that have been placed in a protective case or sleeve are typically in better condition. You don't ever want to polish your coins, which can remove dates and fine detail, but you do want to keep them wiped clean with a soft cloth and kept in individual sleeves. This can improve their appraised value simply by how they are displayed. Keep this in mind as you prepare your coins for an appraisal as the way you present them can affect their value greatly.
Your coin collection may be worth a lot of money depending on what coins you have kept and how you maintain them. You just may have a very rare coin that is very desirable, which can increase the value of your entire collection by a sizable amount.