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Not the fact that the firm has just successfully passed its fifth birthday milestone, or Southon’s ability to generate national media coverage. In the run-up to her anniversary auction on November 1, the sale’s star lot of 60 cartoons by Playboy illustrator Francis Willford-Smith (who drew under the name Smilby) made the front page of the Daily Telegraph, no less (see picture above).

Talking on the night before the auction, it’s clear Southon wasn’t assuming the sale’s success. For one thing, the cartoons are “quite racy” in content, and then there’s the management of the habitual large turn-outs for Southon auctions, partly drawn by a comfy golf club environment (Farleigh Golf Club in Surrey).

In the event, the sale had satisfying highs (see Auction Reports ATG No 2317) and most of the cartoons got away above estimate. Roll on the next Southon sale, she says (with or without national press headlines), which takes place on December 6.