One bidder was on the telephone from Connecticut. Another called from New York. Meanwhile, the live bidders under the Sotheby Parke Bernet tent were having a hard time getting their bids in edgewise.
Bids were coming in on 19 telephones during the second day of the sale yesterday of the Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch Americana collection being auctioned at Pokety, the family estate at Cambridge, Md. Indeed four out of six of the bids -- those placed by people who were not present.
As the buzz rose in the tent, the caller from Connecticut, a private collector, won the bid for the 121-piece "impressive Chinese export dinner service, circa 1785." The winning price was $45,000, almost twice the estimated price of $25,000. To all prices Sotheby adds a 10 percent buyer surcharge.
The set, when used by the Garbisches, amounted to 214 pieces of china. Letitia Roberts, Sothby's European Chinese export porcelain expert, said, "We had to break the set into 18 lots to sell it." All 214 pieces brought a total of $72,400 from different buyers. The extent of the Garbisches' entertaining could be measured not only by their dinner service but by their cutlery as well. A set of 46 dinner knives and 36 cheese knives sold at the auction yesterday.
The total sale yesterday was $323,775, bringing the total for two days to $1,526,485. The Garbisch estate sale to date, including an earlier New York auction, has brought $18,012,160.
Some 1,250 persons were present yesterday at the auction, which continues through Sunday at the Garbisches' Eastern Shore estate.
The Garbisches bought everything with lavishh hands. For instance, some 30 candle stands and similar light devices were sold from the house yesterday.
Phili Bradley, a Philadelphia dealer, paid $28,000 for an "important brass and wrought-iron two-light candle stand, American, possibly New England 1700-1750."
Albert Sack, a New York dealer, said the stand was important because it is known to have been made in the United States. He recalled that his New York firm once sold a rare candle stand for $45,000. But the $28,000 bid yesterday was a record for an American lighting device sold at auction.
Sack himself bought for $1,300 an Amemrican applewood, brass and blued steel tripod candlestick. "You know if a dealer put down his own money, that it's worth something," said Sackj.(He recenttly bought a C. G. Sloane's in Washington a tea table for a record $67,000. It was later bought by the White House.)
Inevitably some pieces scheduled to be sold turned up missing. A burner for a tea kettle, a fish poacher and several pieces of fireplace equipment disappeared mysteriously between the cataloguing and the sale.
The most important sales are scheduled for today -- American funiture and decorative art and the Garbisches' fabulous collection of miniature furniture.
A rare Chippendale carved mahogany miniature highboy from Philadelphia, 1760-80, is expected to bring more than $35,000. A rare Chippendale lock and shell carved Cuban mahogany kneehole desk, possibly made by Edmund Townsend in Newport, R.I., about 1760-80, is expected to bring approximately $200,000.
The Garbisches paid a record $120,000 for the desk at Lansell Christie's sale at Sotheby's in 1972. The miniature highboy also came from that Christie sale.