Seeberger v. Hardy
150 U.S. 420 (1893)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Seeberger v. Hardy, 150 U.S. 420 (1893)

Seeberger v. Hardy

Nos. 93, 276

Argued November 21, 1893

Decided December 4, 1893

150 U.S. 420


In estimating the amount of duty to be imposed upon shell opera glasses under the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 488, c. 121, the value of the materials should be taken at the time when they are put together to form the completed glass.

The question whether the opera glasses should be regarded as falling within the description of paragraph 216, as a manufacture composed wholly or in part of metal, is not raised by the record, and, no instruction based upon that interpretation having been asked of the court below, this Court does not find it necessary to express an opinion on the subject.

These were actions against the collector of the port of Chicago to recover duties claimed to have been erroneously assessed upon certain consignments of pearl opera glasses. The facts and the questions of law involved in the two actions were similar except in some unimportant details. The opera glasses consisted of lenses in a metal frame with an outer covering of shell. The question litigated was under which of the three following provisions of the Tariff Act of

Page 150 U. S. 421

1883 were so-called "shell opera glasses� dutiable:

By paragraph 143, page 497,

"Porcelain and Bohemian glass, chemical glassware, painted glassware, stained glass, and all other manufactures of glass, or of which glass shall be the component material of chief value, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act"

were dutiable at 45 percent ad valorem.

By paragraph 216, page 501,

"Manufactures, articles, or wares, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, composed wholly or in part of iron, steel, copper, lead, nickel, pewter, tin, zinc, gold, silver, platinum, or any other metal, and whether partly or wholly manufactured"

were subject to 45 percent ad valorem.

By paragraph 486, page 514, "Shells, whole or parts of, manufactured, of every description, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act" were dutiable at 25 percent ad valorem.

As these opera glasses were made of a combination of three materials, namely, glass, metal, and shell, they were also claimed to be subject to Rev.Stat. § 2499, as amended by the act of 1883, page 491, viz.:

"On all articles manufactured from two or more materials the duty shall be assessed at the highest rates at which the component material of chief value shall be chargeable. If two or more rates of duty shall be applicable to any imported article, it shall be classified for duty under the highest of such rates."

Upon the trial, certain depositions were offered in evidence tending to show the relative value of the component parts of which the opera glasses were made up, to the reading of which counsel for the defendant objected

"upon the ground that the said depositions did not give in detail the values of the metal, shell, and glass, component parts of the pearl opera glasses in this suit, in the condition in which the opera glass manufacturer received them."

The depositions were admitted, and counsel excepted.

In this connection, the court charged the jury that

"in determining which of the materials (manufacture of metal,

Page 150 U. S. 422

manufacture of shell, or manufacture of glass) composing the opera glasses in question was the component material of chief value, they must ascertain what were their values at the time they were in such condition that nothing remained to be done upon them, except putting them together to make the perfected glasses."

Defendant excepted to this instruction, and asked the court to charge

"that, in arriving at what was the component material of chief value in the said opera glasses, they should look, and look only at the respective values of the metal, shell, and glass in the raw and unmanufactured state in which the opera glass manufacturer received them, and before their respective values had been enhanced by the manufacturer by means of any work, labor, or time expended thereon."

This was refused. In each case, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff importer, upon which judgment was entered, and the collector sued out this writ of error.

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