Arthur v. Moller

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

97 U.S. 365

Arthur  v.  Moller

ERROR to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

The question involved in this case is, whether certain articles imported by the defendants, Charles Moller and Paul E. Vacquerel, into the port of New York, known as decalcomanie pictures, are subject to duties as 'printed matter,' or as 'manufactures of paper, or of which paper is a component material, not otherwise provided for.' 12 Stat. 192; 13 id. 213; Rev. Stat., p. 474, sect. 2504, also p. 479.

The statutes impose the duties in the language following; viz., On 'books, periodicals, pamphlets, blank-books, bound or unbound, and all printed matter, engravings, bound or unbound, illustrated books and papers, and maps and charts, twenty-five per cent ad valorem.' Rev. Stat., supra.

On 'paper, sized or glued, suitable only for printing-paper, twenty-five per cent ad valorem; printing, unsized, used for books and newspapers exclusively, twenty per cent ad valorem; manufactured of, or of which paper is a component material not otherwise provided for, thirty-five per cent ad valorem.' Id., p. 479, sect. 2504.

The goods in question were chromo-lithographs, consisting of landscapes, scenery, and other figures, printed from oil-stones upon paper, with one color printed on top of the other until the picture is finished.

They are used for any purpose to which painting by hand can be applied. There are no letters constituting language upon the face of the paper.

They are made by means of lithographic stones, and printed from the stones successively one after the other, according to the number of colors; the difference between them and a chromo-lithograph being that a chromo is printed positive, while decalcomaine is printed positive and negative, but chiefly negative.

After the picture is printed, it is sometimes covered with a metal leaf, which is also put on by the process of printing; a sizing is printed on from the stone, the metal leaf being placed on top of the sizing by hand, it being too brittle to be placed on by the roller, and it is run through the press, which prints the metal leaf on top of the picture.

Arthur, the collector of the port, imposed and collected a duty of thirty-five per cent ad valorem upon the articles, as a manufacture of paper. The importers paid the duty under protest, and brought suit to recover the excess. The court below decided that the pictures were dutiable as printed matter, and not as manufactures of paper, and gave judgment for the plaintiffs. Arthur then brought the case here.

Mr. Assistant-Attorney-General Smith for the plaintiff in error.

Mr. James B. Craig, contra.

MR. JUSTICE HUNT delivered the opinion of the court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).