Accelerating his voice to the runthewordstogether cadence of an auctioneer, Russ McClain hawked everything from thermal blankets to an antique grandfather clock yesterday as he helped the government recoup nearly $50,000 by selling goods illegally obtained by former federal employes.

"This is no time to be bashful," the white-haired McClain, a marketing specialist for the General Services Administration, exhorted a hushed audience when the bidding on a gold and diamond Cartier watch seemed to level off at $1,650. He wanted more and two minutes later he got it: "Sold for $2,275."

GSA's four-hour auction of confiscated goods, coupled with an unusual "garage sale" Tuesday, netted the government $48,025 and drew more than 1,100 bargain-hunters and auction aficionados.

A Steinway grand piano valued at $20,000 went for $14,400, the highest price fetched among the 500-plus items on sale or up for auction. The grandfather clock, circa 1836, sold for $5,300. A diamond pendant and a Queen Anne desk went for $725 each and a Nikon camera outfit attracted a final bid of $525.

More modest spenders contented themselves with a $17.50 gold belt buckle and a $12.50 popcorn popper which were among the lowest selling items.

Winning bidders had until 9 a.m. today to remove their purchases from the Commerce Department's auditorium and lobby. That deadline was no problem for Suzanne Berry.

The Justice Department employe, whose agency seized the goods from one big-spending embezzler and four bribe-takers, bought a red Ralph Lauren-designed robe for $50. Her bid was only $5 less than what the garment was selling for Tuesday, but Berry was nevertheless jubilant.

"He," she said of the fashion-conscious embezzler, "paid $220."