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U.S. Supreme Court

Forbes Lithograph Mfg. Co. v. Worthington, 132 U.S. 655 (1889)

Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company v. Worthington

No. 163

Submitted December 13, 1889

Decided December 23, 1889

132 U.S. 655


Plaintiff imported into the United States a quantity of iron advertising or show cards of various sizes. They were sold here for advertising purposes,

Page 132 U. S. 656

to hang on walls or in windows in public places, and contained generally the name of the person or of the article advertised and some picture or ornament, which were printed from lithographic stones upon the plates of sheet iron in the same way that lithographing is done upon paper or cardboard. The principal part of the value of the completed card was in the printing done upon the material, and not in the material itself. Held that they were subject to a duty of 45 percent ad valorem as manufactures, etc., not specially enumerated or provided for, composed wholly or in part of iron, under the last paragraph of Schedule C, Rev.Stat. § 2502, as enacted March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 501, c. 121, and not as printed matter not specially enumerated or provided for, under the first paragraph of Schedule M in the same amending act.

This cause was heard by the district judge for the District of New Hampshire, holding the circuit court, upon the following agreed statement of facts:

"This was an action in which the writ was dated April 18, 1884, brought by the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company, a corporation located at Boston, in said district, to recover back $1,081.42, the amount of duties alleged by them to have been illegally exacted by the defendant, Worthington, as collector of the port of Boston, on certain merchandise described in the invoice and entries as 'iron show-cards' imported by them. The pleadings may be referred to. The plaintiffs imported these cards into the port of Boston from Paris, in France, by different steamers from Liverpool, the importations being made in ten separate lots, and extending from December 19, 1883, to April 2, 1884."

"On each importation, as received, the plaintiffs paid the assessed duties under protest, and duly filed such protest with the collector, and their appeal with the Secretary of the Treasury. A copy of one of the protests, which may stand for all, is hereto annexed and marked 'A,' and this action was seasonably brought."

"The collector exacted a duty of forty-five percentum ad valorem (amounting in the aggregate to $2,432.62) under the clause in Schedule C (last section) of the Tariff Law of March 3, 1883, which is as follows:"

" Manufactures, articles, or wares, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, composed wholly or in part of iron, . . . or any other metal, and

Page 132 U. S. 657

whether partly or wholly manufactured, forty-five percentum ad valorem,"

"while the said importers claimed that the goods were dutiable at twenty-five percentum ad valorem only (the aggregate amounting to $1,351.20) under the clause in Schedule M (first section) which is as follows:"

" Books, pamphlets, bound or unbound, and all printed matter, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, engravings, bound or unbound, etchings, illustrated books, maps, and charts, twenty-five percentum ad valorem."

"The difference between the amount of said duties at forty-five percent and at twenty-five percent, is $1,081.42, which is the amount that the plaintiffs claim in this case."

"All the goods charged with the duties were iron show-cards or advertising cards or signs."

"They were manufactured in Paris on orders given by the said importers to fill orders from parties here, who used them for advertising purposes (to hang on the walls or in windows or in public places, to give to customers, etc.). The importers imported and sold them to the consumers here for such advertising purposes only. The cards were of different sizes, being on the average about a foot long by six inches wide, and contained, generally, the name of the person and of the article advertised, with some picture or ornament thereon-- for example, as follows:"


"These cards were prepared in different colors, on plates of sheet iron. It is agreed, if relevant to the issue, that the value

Page 132 U. S. 658

of the iron plates before the printing was put upon them was about two or three cents each, and that the other material of the card, as material, was of like trifling value, while that of the completed card or sign was about twenty to twenty-five cents."

"These cards or signs were lithographed (that is to say, printed) from lithographic stones on hand presses in the same way that lithographing is done on paper or on cardboard. Samples of said cards are filed herewith, marked 'Exhibit B,' and may be referred to at the hearing."

"The case is submitted by the parties on the above, as an agreed statement of facts."

"If upon the foregoing facts the merchandise should have been assessed at 25 percent, judgment is to be rendered for the plaintiffs for $1,081.42 and costs; otherwise, for defendant for costs."

Copy of the protest was attached to the statement, and samples of the cards accompanied it as exhibits.

"The court found for the defendant, and entered judgment accordingly, and a writ of error was sued out from this Court upon exceptions to the findings and rulings. The opinion is reported in 25 F.8d 9."

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