Collecting coins has been a life mission for 52-year-old Gary Pirie who started with a half crown at the tender age of nine.
Now, 43 years later, and the keen numismatist has amassed thousands of coins over the years sourced from all over the place.
In fact, the collection is now so extensive that Gary, who lives in the Dryburgh area, is unable to quantify or put a value to it.
He said: “I have literally thousands. I separate out the likes of the silver from the non-silver. The stuff I’m keeping back usually gets kept in coin albums.
“I do try to keep them stored in certain places and some of these books can be fairly heavy.”
Gary grew up in Invergowrie, with lots of surrounding farmland where coins were regularly being ploughed up.
“I started with a half crown in 1977. Over the years, folk just kept on handing me stuff and I just kept on going with it,” he said.
“It’s a passion and I do like the silver side of it especially, but there are certain things such as from the Roman period, that I would take that don’t have to be silver.
“To a lesser extent now than when I was younger people still give me coins, and there’s one place based on Byron Street, called Clepington Antiques, that’s a great place to go. There are also places like Errol Market that I go to.”
Gary is constantly looking for new treasures to add to his collection, but says it is dependent on when new items are presented – which could be once every couple of weeks, or more regularly. And he’s got a keen eye for knowing what something is worth.
He said: “The silver is the good stuff and that’s actually turned out to be quite a good investment over the years. Prices for certain materials like silver and gold are going bananas.
“When I see a coin, I would have an idea of what I would pay for it but that doesn’t mean to say somebody else would pay that.
“I picked up an old US dollar a few years ago and I’ve been offered £400 for it. I also picked up a £15 box of crowns a while ago, with one from Henry VIII, and I’ve been offered £150 for that.
“Usually I can get away with spending very little because I’m using what I know that other folk don’t and then when you go through it you can identify the stuff of value. A bit of know-how can pick that up.
“The price of something may have shocked me 20 or 30 years ago but it wouldn’t now.
“If somebody wants something, like the old pennies, I would tend to sell it on. Folk are buying pennies to make into ashtrays. But I would keep certain things back.”
Gary, who has held a number of jobs in his time but is currently not in employment, explained that coins are one of the top five areas for collecting in Scotland and said there is likely to be a big community throughout Tayside.
At a collectors fair in Dundee’s Marryat Hall many years ago, Gary says the place was “chock-a-block” with a variety of enthusiasts whose interests ranged from military medals to ceramics.
As for his own personal collection, it is not possible to pick a favourite coin.
“They’re all part of a collection so they’re more than just one thing. I’m still seeing things now that I’ve never seen before, even after 40-odd years.
“When I picked up a Henry VIII coin I’d never seen anything like it. I’ve now got one from James VI as well, from the time of the Union of the Crowns.
“I do tend to spend more time going through containers than actually sourcing material. It can take a big of time depending on what’s there.
Gary, who says he has no plans to stop adding to his sizeable collection, urges budding collectors to start young and notes that “just because something is old doesn’t necessarily make it valuable”.