IN a career spanning two decades as an antiques expert and auctioneer, there is a good chance Angus Ashworth has seen it and sold it.

To date, he has auctioned off a human skeleton (a medical anatomical specimen), a collection of antique condom moulds (from a vast collection of pharmaceutical curios) and even an LS Lowry sketch (that one was snapped up for £11,000).

Ashworth, a regular on the popular BBC show Antiques Road Trip, is presenting a new STV programme, Clear Out, Cash In. It sees him travel across Scotland to lend a knowledgeable eye to those keen to discern if objects are genuine treasures or best-kept as sentimental heirlooms.

The eight-part series shines a spotlight on house clearances, an activity that forms a large part of his day job as owner of Ryedale Auctioneers in Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire.

"Some of the stories are quite emotional," says Ashworth. "It could be that somebody's loved ones have passed away and they are having to clear the family home. Sometimes it is a happy thing because they are moving house and clearing everything out.

"It is something that no matter who you are, you can relate to, because at some point in all of our lives we are going to have to do that, whether it is for a grandparent, a parent or when we get to the stage in life where we are downsizing."

HeraldScotland: Antiques expert and auctioneer Angus Ashworth presents Clear Out, Cash In. Picture: STV StudiosAntiques expert and auctioneer Angus Ashworth presents Clear Out, Cash In. Picture: STV Studios

Ashworth, who also presents The Yorkshire Auction House on Really, has a magpie-like fascination for unusual objects, making his line of work the perfect vocation.

"I absolutely love my job because no two days are the same," he attests. "I couldn't sit at a desk. Every day I am out meeting different people and seeing different houses. You see the full spectrum – right up to stately homes.

"Every day is different. You never know what you are going to find next. There is that little bit of a treasure hunter where you go into a house, spot something and think: 'Wow, that is special'.

"That is the joy of it. I love history and some of these items tell fantastic stories. They might not be hugely valuable, but an item can tell a wonderful story."

There has been no shortage of gems so far on Clear Out, Cash In. "We have seen a range of items from a house full of Ferrari memorabilia to one filled with Beatrix Potter figurines, as well as amazing artworks and even a boat," says Ashworth.

HeraldScotland: A collection of Beatrix Potter figurines are among the items featured on new STV series Clear Out, Cash In. Picture: STV StudiosA collection of Beatrix Potter figurines are among the items featured on new STV series Clear Out, Cash In. Picture: STV Studios

"It can be tricky at times. It can be emotional and raw for people. Quite often these are the homes that they have grown up in and there is a lot of sentimentality."

How does he tackle that strong emotional attachment many of us have with objects? "It is important not to lose sight of that," he says. "It would be easy to walk in and be completely commercial about it, saying: 'That is worth this much, that is not worth anything …'

"But you have to remember that, when you are saying something might not have a commercial value, you have to be sensitive to the fact that this might have belonged to somebody's mother who passed away a couple of months ago. It might mean a lot to them.

"It is about how you take people through that process and explain why it doesn't have commercial value, but that doesn't mean it can't have sentimental value. You have to be mindful of the situation.

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"It is a bigger picture than simply going in and saying, 'Oh, that looks good, we will sell that.' When you are dealing with a house clearance, it can be quite sad at times, but it is often the start of a new chapter."

A common mistake people make, he says, is assuming that because an item has been around for a long while, it will fetch a pretty penny under the hammer. Yet, by the same token, many of us can overlook the potential value of modern everyday objects.

"The horror stories I hear about people who have thrown good things out," he says. "The misconception is that because something is old, it is valuable and that is not the case. Just because something is antique, it doesn't mean it has got a value.

"Modern stuff, if it is the right look and the right piece, that is what will sell. A lot nowadays is about the look. Is it practical? Is it useful?

"Victorian furniture, big pieces that were made for big houses, you have got to think of the market now. A lot of people are in new-builds and just don't have the space for huge, massive sideboards and that sort of thing."

HeraldScotland: Antiques expert and auctioneer Angus Ashworth with pop and rock memorabilia. Picture: David HarrisonAntiques expert and auctioneer Angus Ashworth with pop and rock memorabilia. Picture: David Harrison

What about weird and wonderful curios – do they sell? "Over my career I have sold some really quite bizarre items," says Ashworth. "I have sold a human skeleton. It was a proper medical specimen – nothing dodgy.

"I had one job where there was a collection of 19th-century glass condom moulds. A science museum bought them. A chap had collected all kinds of chemist and apothecary items. We sold his collection and the moulds were part of that.

"You do get all sorts. At some point I have probably sold pretty much anything you can imagine. We have had vehicles ranging from cars to tractors.

"That is why the job is amazing because you never know what you are going to get to sell next. It is so varied – the sky is the limit."

You might think that Ashworth would be beyond the stage of being surprised by the items he encounters, yet the jaw-dropping moments keep on coming. "I still get excited," he says. "Sometimes you walk into a house and think, 'There's not much here…' and then go, 'Oh! What's that?'

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"Other times you walk in and bang, straightaway, you think 'wow'. I have just been at one today and it was like stepping back to the 1970s. Everything is as it was."

Ashworth, 37, fell in love with antiques from an early age. "My parents are into antiques and my uncle was in the antiques business," he says. "It was always around me. As a young lad, 12, 13 and 14, I used to go to auctions and collected militaria – that was my interest.

"That came from watching Sharpe and reading the Bernard Cornwell series of books when I was a youngster. I started collecting powder flasks – before you had bullets, there was this little flask that held the powder."

HeraldScotland: Antiques expert and auctioneer Angus Ashworth on an episode of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. Picture: Chris BoothAntiques expert and auctioneer Angus Ashworth on an episode of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. Picture: Chris Booth

Ashworth did work experience at an auction house in his teens and after completing his GCSEs, left school at 16 to pursue a career as an auctioneer.

"I did that for four years, loved the job and then went into the family business which was deep sea engineering – we used to do a lot of work for customers up in Scotland," he says. "My dad had a business in Stonehaven for a long time, hence my name being Angus. I think that came from his love of Scotland.

"I was in the reserve forces and got called up. I did Iraq and Afghanistan. Then 11 years ago I set up my own auction house, and it has gone from there."

Ask Ashworth about the most memorable moments from his adventures in antiques and he has no shortage of engaging anecdotes.

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"We recently did a sale after an antiques dealer died. The family asked us to sell his entire stock and collection. Most sales you might have 50 to 100 people selling items. That was an incredible two-day sale for one person's estate.

"It was our second-highest grossing sale of all-time. When it is a good sale, you get lots of people emailing enquiries, the internet is on fire – we had bidders from 22 countries on that sale – and you get that buzz.

"There have been a few big hits. There was a little Lowry sketch that made £11,000. We sold a Purdey shotgun for £37,000. We have had some big-ticket items but, for me, I think the exciting bit is not just an individual bid; it's when you have a good sale overall."

Clear Out, Cash In continues on STV, Wednesdays, 8pm. Catch up now on STV Player