U.S. Supreme Court
Merritt v. Stephani, 108 U.S. 106 (1883)
Merritt v. Stephani
Decided March 19, 1883
108 U.S. 106
Under Schedule B of § 2504 of the Revised Statutes, which imposes a duty of 30 percent ad valorem on "glass bottles or jars filled with articles not otherwise provided for," such duty is chargeable on bottles filled with natural mineral water, although, by § 2505, mineral water, not artificial, is declared to be exempt from duty.
This was a suit to recover back duties exacted by the plaintiff in error, as collector of the port of New York, on glass bottles imported in June, 1879, from Antwerp. The bottles contained natural mineral water. The collector charged on the bottles a duty of 30 percent ad valorem, under this provision of Schedule B of § 2504 of the Revised Statutes:
"Glass bottles or jars filled with articles not otherwise provided for, 30 percent ad valorem."
The collector charged no duty on the water, as being free under this clause of § 2505:
"The importation of the following articles shall be exempt from duty: . . . Mineral waters, all, not artificial."
At the trial, it was proved on behalf of the plaintiffs that chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanroblesvirtualawlibrary
mineral waters are and have always been generally imported into this country in glass bottles, although sometimes contained in stone bottles or jugs, but that the glass bottle is the usual form and kind of package for natural mineral waters. The circuit court directed a verdict for the plaintiffs, and after a judgment for them the collector sued out this writ of error.