U.S. Supreme Court
Astor v. Merritt, 111 U.S. 202 (1884)
Astor v. Merritt
Argued March 21, 24, 1884
Decided April 7, 1884
111 U.S. 202
A citizen of the United States, arriving home from a visit to Europe with his family in the end of September by a vessel brought with him wearing apparel, bought there for his and their use, to be worn here during the season then approaching, "not excessive in quantity for persons of their means, habits and station in life," and their ordinary outfit for the winter. A part of the articles had not been worn, and duties were exacted by the collector on all those articles. Held that under § 2505 of the Revised Statutes (now § 2503, by virtue of § 6 of the Act of March 3, 1883, c. 121, 22 Stat. 521), exempting from duty "wearing apparel in actual use and other personal effects (not merchandise), . . . of persons arriving in the United States," the proper rule to be applied was to exempt from duty such of the articles as fulfilled the following conditions: (1) wearing apparel owned by the passenger, and in a condition to be worn at once without further manufacture, (2) brought with him as a passenger, and intended for the use or wear of himself or his family who accompanied him as passengers, and not for sale, or purchased or imported for other persons or to be given away, (3) suitable for the season of the year which was immediately approaching at the time of arrival, (4) not exceeding in quantity or quality or value what the passenger was in the habit of ordinarily providing for himself and his family at that time and keeping on hand for his and their reasonable wants, in view of their means and habits in life, even though such articles had not been actually worn.
This was a suit to recover back duties alleged to have been illegally exacted on the wearing apparel of a passenger entering at the port of New York. The facts which make up the case are stated at length in the opinion of the court. The plaintiff in error was plaintiff below.