Mesh Bags Composed Entirely of Silver Declared Dutiable at 85 Per Cent. Under the Jewelry Schedule
After a strong fight by importers to secure lower duty on women's mesh bags composed entirely of silver, the Board of United States General Appraisers last week upheld Collector Loeb's assessment of an 85 per cent, duty on these articles. Hansel, Bruckmann & Lorbacher figure as the protestants in the test case, but the entire trade, both foreign and domestic, is deeply interested in the issue, as the difference in the duty assessed by the Government and that claimed by the importers is 40 per cent.
The merchandise in question consists of handbags, finished and unfinished, made in chief value of metal mesh, composed of sterling silver and valued at over $2 per dozen pieces. Duty was assessed by the collector at rates equivalent to 85 per cent, ad valorem under Par. 448 covering “unfinished bags, purses and other articles or parts thereof made in chief value of metal mesh composed of silver valued at $2 per dozen
pieces.” The importers asked for a rate of 40 per cent, as "articles or wares not specially provided for, composed wholly or in part of silver,” and whether partly or wholly' manufactured.
Churchill & Marlowe, counsel for the importers, argued before the Board that the merchandise is not covered by Par. 448 as assessed by the collector, because it is composed entirely of silver, and that the provisions for mesh bags and their parts in that paragraph include only such bags or parts as are in chief value of silver. It was further claimed that the intent of Congress is plainly indicated as including in that part of the paragraph in question only such bags, purses and other articles or parts thereof which are made of metal mesh composed of two or more materials of which silver represents the component of chief value.
In overruling the protest Judge Sharretts says:
It is quite apparent that counsel for the importers misapprehended the scope of the provisions of Par. 448, with regard to the merchandise in
question. The words “made in chief value of metal mesh,” apply to “bags, purses and other articles,” while the words “composed of silver,” etc., apply to the mesh and not to the completed articles. Mesh bags and purses are made by attaching the mesh to a solid frame and to bring these articles within the terms of the paragraph, the mesh must be of more value than the other parts of the articles. A mesh bag or purse composed of a gold frame or a silver frame set with precious stones, or any frame of more value than the mesh, would not fall for duty under Par 448. but were such not the case the importers’ contention could not be upheld.
A case involving the same principle of law now contended for on behalf or the importers, was decided adversely to the importers by this
Board in re Cauvigna Brush Co., in G. A. 7022 (T. D. 30634), which decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Customs Appeals (T.D. 31118).
In that case the merchandise consisted of articles composed wholly of celluloid, and the importers claimed that as Par. 17 provides only for articles of which collodion, pyroxylin or celluloid, etc., is the component of chief value, the merchandise, which consisted wholly of celluloid, was not dutiable thereunder. In the decision of that case we said:
“We are not greatly impressed with this argument. Articles composed wholly of collodian are composed in chief value of that substance within the common understanding, and in accordance with the well-known principle that the greater, includes the less; and if it cannot be shown with reasonable certainty that Congress intended the phrase ‘articles composed in chief value of collodion’ should have a restricted meaning different from the common understanding of the import of the words, we must conclude that the articles here in dispute are included in that provision.”
Following the ruling in the above cited decision, we hold that the silver mesh bags and parts thereof in the case at bar are made in chief value of metal mesh composed of silver, and, upon the authority of G.A. 7129 (T. D. 31089), we overrule the protest, the collector’s decision being
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 25th October 1911