OpenJurist

120 US 82 Heinemann v. Rollins

120 U.S. 82

7 S.Ct. 446

30 L.Ed. 605

HEINEMANN and another
v.
ROLLINS and another, Ex'rs, etc.

January 24, 1887.

Patrick A. Collins, for plaintiffs in error.

Sol. Gen. Jenks, for defendants in error.

BLATCHFORD, J.

1

In October, 1873, the firm of Heinemann, Payson & Morgan bought, paid for, and exported from Taganrog, in Russia, some colored carpet wools, the actual cost of which, exclusive of charges, was below 12 cents per pound at the time and place of exportation. They were imported into the port of New York, and entered at the custom-house there January 5, 1874, at the invoice value of 41,975.01 silver rubles. The collector reduced the amount into United States money at 77.17 cents to the ruble. This made the value of the wool greater than 12 cents per pound, and the collector exacted a duty on it of 6 cents per pound. The importers protested that the ruble should be computed at 75 cents, which would have made the value 12 cents or less per pound, and the duty would have been 3 cents per pound. The tariff act in force at the time of the entry was section 1 of the act of March 2, 1867, (chapter 197, 14 St. 560,) which, as applicable to the merchandise, which was wool of the third class, provided as follows: 'Upon wools of the third class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported into the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall be twelve cents or less per pound, the duty shall be three cents per pound; upon wools of the same class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall exceed twelve cents per pound, the duty shall be six cents per pound.' The secretary of the treasury, on appeal, confirmed the action of the collector; and the importers, after paying the duty exacted, to obtain their goods, broug t this suit against the collector to recover the alleged excess.

2

Section 1 of the act of March 3, 1843, (chapter 92, 5 St. 625,) provided 'that, in all computations of the value of foreign moneys of account at the custom-houses of the United States, * * * the ruble of Russia shall be deemed and taken to be of the value of seventy-five cents.'

3

On the third of March, 1873, the following act was approved, (17 St. 602, chap. 268:) 'Section 1. That the value of foreign coin, as expressed in the money of account of the United States, shall be that of the pure metal of such coin of standard value; and the values of the standard coins in circulation of the various nations of the world shall be estimated annually by the director of the mint, and proclaimed on the first day of January by the secretary of the treasury.

4

'Sec. 2. That in all payments by or to the treasury, whether made here or in foreign countries, when it becomes necessary to compute the value of the sovereign or pound sterling, it shall be deemed equal to four dollars eighty-six cents and six and one-half mills; and the same rule shall be applied in appraising merchandise imported when the value is, by the invoice, in sovereigns, or pounds sterling, and in the construction of contracts payable in sovereigns or pounds sterling; and this valuation shall be the par of exchange between Great Britain and the United States; and all contracts made after the first day of January, 1874, based on an assumed par of exchange with Great Britain, of fifty-four pence to the dollar, or four dollars forty-four and four-ninths cents to the sovereign or pound sterling, shall be null and void.

5

'Sec. 3. That all acts and parts of acts inconsistent with these provisions be, and the same are hereby, repealed.'

6

In pursuance of this statute the director of the mint estimated the value of the Russian ruble for the year 1874 at 77.17 cents in the United States money of account, and the secretary of the treasury thereafter, on the twentieth of December, 1873, proclaimed, by a circular addressed to the collectors of customs, that, 'from and after January 1, 1874, the following table of standard values of foreign moneys, reduced to the moneys of account of the United States, will, until otherwise provided for by law or regulation, be taken at custom-houses in computing the invoice value of all imported merchandise expressed in such currency, to-wit, Russian rebles of 100 copecks, silver, 77.17.'

7

The foregoing facts appearing at the trial of the case before the court and a jury, the plaintiffs contended that the wool was purchased before the act of March 3, 1873, took effect, and that the value in United States money should have been computed as of the time of exportation. These positions were overruled by the court, and it directed the jury to find a verdict for the defendant, which was done under the objection and exception of the plaintiffs. To review a judgment for the defendant the plaintiffs have brought this writ of error.

8

The decision of this court in Collector v. Richards, 23 Wall. 246, establishes that the effect of the act of 1873 was to fix the value of the Russian silver ruble, in the money of account of the United States, for the purpose of computing, at the custom-house, the amount of an invoice of imported goods, and consequently to repeal the act of 1843. See, also, Cramer v. Arthur, 102 U. S. 612; Hadden v. Merritt, 115 U. S. 25; S. C. 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1169.

9

Evidence that the merchandise cost, exclusive of charges, less than 12 cents per pound at the time and place of exportation, could not affect the question, because, although the duty was imposed according to the value of the goods 'at the last port or place whence exported to the United States,' yet, when that value was stated, in the invoice, in the foreign silver currency, its equivalent in the money of account of the United States could not be computed, for the purpose of the entry of the goods at the cus om-house for duty, at any sum less than the invoice or entered balue. Section 7 of the act of March 3, 1865, (c. 80, 13 St. 493,) in force at the time of this importation, provided that, in all cases where the duty imposed by law should be based upon the value of any specified quantity of merchandise, the value upon which the duty should be assessed should be its actual market value or wholesale price at the period of exportation, in the principal markets of the country of exportation, but that the duty should not be assessed 'upon an amount less than the invoice or entered value, any act of congress to the contrary not withstanding.' This made it imperative on the collector to compute the value of the silver ruble, at the time of the entry, according to that value as determined in accordance with the act of 1873, which was 77.17 cents. The duty was imposed by the statute, 'according to the value of the goods at the time and place of exportation.' The importer stated that 'value,' in the foreign coin, in his invoice and entry. The statute as to computation applied, as of the date of the entry, to such entered value. Hence it could not affect the question to show that the 'cost' of the goods abroad, computing the ruble at a lower rate, as of the date of exportation, was 12 cents or less per pound. Judgment affirmed.