Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, October 8, 1937 [1]

Finance Ministry


8th October 1937.

Dear Robert,

I have just had a letter from Bustros,Elias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon. the Beyrouth dealer who has the gold marriage beltBZ.1937.33. about which I cabled you.

Bustros says that the Director of Antiquities is on leave in France, and that he will have to get a permission from him to export the object. He further says that in view of the unsettled state of the exchanges, he, Bustros, is afraid that there will be a fall in the gold value of the Dollar. He therefore asks me to do one of two things: a/ either to cable the price of the belt to a Consulate at Beyrouth, to be converted at once into Turkish Gold Pounds, payable to Bustros when I get the belt, or b/ to agree to make up the difference to him in case there is a fall in the gold value of the Dollar between now and the time when I pay for the belt.

If I were buying this thing for myself, I would perhaps be prepared to take a chance on it and to send the money out to Bustros in advance, as I think he is honest. But as I am getting it for you, and as I am afraid that several things, e.g. introduction of foreign exchange control, might conceivably happen in the meantime to make it impossible ever to get the money back from Syria, in the event of our not receiving the belt, even if Bustros were completely bona fide in the matter, I don’t feel inclined to take any risk on your behalf, without getting your consent.

I should be sorry to if we failed to get the belt, as it looks very good to me from the photograph.

I don’t suppose there is really any danger whatever of the Dollar depreciating between now and delivery of the belt. But perhaps Bustros knows more about these things than I do.

I am cabling to you, to Washington, where I understand you are arriving to-day, as follows:See telegram of October 8, 1937 [2].

“OwnerElias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon. marriage belt demands assurance we will compensate him for any decrease in gold value of Dollar before he receives payment stop please cable me instructions.”

Bustros also proposes the objectsThese included a spoon (BZ.1938.32), bowl (BZ.1938.31), and “pinces” (BZ.1939.33–34). See letter of October 21, 1937. of which he sends the enclosed drawing. He asks $250 for the lot. They look rather attractive. I should think they might be Ve or VIe century. Please let me know if you are interested.

Much love to you both

R. T.

Associated People: Elias (Elie) Bustros