OpenJurist

132 US 460 Robertson v. Rosenthal

132 U.S. 460

10 S.Ct. 120

33 L.Ed. 392

ROBERTSON, Collector,
v.
ROSENTHAL et al.

December 16, 1889.

[Statement of Case from pages 460-463 intentionally omitted]

Sol. Gen. Chapman, for plaintiff in error.

Edward Hartley and Walter H. Coleman, for defendants in error.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

1

The articles in question were ordinary, headless hair-pins, made of steel wire and iron wire, and the question is whether they were dutiable as 'pins, solid head or other.' By section 13 of the act of July 14, 1862, (12 St. 555-557,) a duty of 5 per centum ad valorem, in addition to then existing duties, was levied on many articles, including 'pins, solid head or other,' and 'manufactures, articles, vessels, and wares, not otherwise provided for, of gold, silver, copper, brass, iron, steel, lead, pewter, tin, or other metal, or of which either of these metals, or any other metal, shall be the component material of chief value.' By section 21 of the act of July 14, 1870, (16 St. 264,) a duty of 50 per centum ad valorem, was levied 'on hair-pins made of iron wire.'

2

Under section 2504, tit. 33, Rev. St. 1878, Schedule M, 'Sundries,' we find, 'Hairpins, made of iron wire, fifty per centum ad valorem;' 'Pins, solid head or other, thirty-five per centum ad valorem.' (Ed. 1878, pp. 476, 480.) And in Schedule E, 'Metals,' (465:) 'All manufactures of steel, or of which steel shall be a component part, not otherwise provided for, forty-five per centum ad valorem. But all articles of steel partially manufactured, or of which steel shall be a component part, not otherwise provided for, shall pay the same rate of duty as if wholly manufactured.' And also, (467:) 'Manufactures, articles, vessels, and wares not otherwise provided for, of * * * iron * * * or other metal, except * * * steel, or of which either of these metals shall be the component material of chief value, thirty-five per centum ad valorem.' In March, 1875, certain imported steel hair-pins having been held at the port of New York dutiable at 50 per cent. ad valorem, because of their similarity to iron wire hair-pins, the treasury department decided that this was erroneous, and that they were properly chargeable with the rate of duty applicable to manufactures of steel not otherwise provided for. Syn. Ser. 1875, p. 56, No. 2140. By section 2502, tit. 33, Rev. St., as enacted by the act of March 3, 1883, (22 St. 501,) Schedule C, 'Metals,' a duty of 30 per centum ad valorem was levied on 'pins, solid head or other,' and by the last paragraph in the same schedule, on 'manufactures, articles, or wares, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, composed wholly or in part of iron, steel, * * * or any other metal, and whether partly or wholly manufactured, forty-five per centum ad valorem.' It will be perceived that, although hair-pins re not mentioned eo nomine, this last paragraph covers iron and steel hair-pins, as was ruled as to the latter by the department in 1875, in the construction and application of similar language. Inasmuch as congress, for the 13 years prior to 1883, treated hair-pins, for revenue purposes, as a distinct article from 'pins, solid head or other,' we consider it unreasonable to conclude that the legislation of 1883 was intended to do away with a distinction manifestly regarded as inherent in the thing itself. In short, it is doubtful if it could ever have been properly held that hair-pins were ejusdem generis with the pins referred to in the tariff acts; but, if this could have been so prior to 1870, we are of opinion that at that time congress assigned them to a class by themselves, because essentially sui generis, and, therefore, that their not being specifically enumerated in 1883 did not relegate them to the category of 'pins, solid head or other,' as ingeniously argued by counsel. From these views the conclusion follows that the court below should have instructed the jury to find for the defendant. The judgment is reversed, and the cause remanded, with a direction to award a new trial.