When foreign dignitaries come to Washington they often come bearing gifts that, to the frustration of government officials, can't be kept if they are worth more than $150. In 1984, for example, the Reagans received 73 gifts, including an 18-month-old elephant from the president of Sri Lanka that was given to the National Zoo, where it died shortly thereafter from a parasitic disease.

Among the other gifts were a sterling silver cigarette box from Queen Elizabeth; a book about 19th-century Russian painter Vasily Surikov; a tablecloth and a lacquered box from Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko; a portrait of the president made from butterfly wings, given by an official of a central African republic; and a Malaysian dagger with a carved ivory-and-gold handle from the prime minister of Malaysia.

Apparently remembering Nancy Reagan's concern about setting a proper table at the White House, French President Franc,ois Mitterrand gave her porcelain dinnerware worth $5,000. She also received $5,170 worth of satin pillows, heart-shaped pillows, silk sheets and mother-of-pearl plates from Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos. The State Department, custodian of the gifts, said many were displayed or sent to various archives or the General Services Administration for disposition.