U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Perry, 146 U.S. 71 (1892)
United States v. Perry
Argued October 26, 28, 1892
Decided November 7, 1892
146 U.S. 71
Paintings upon glass consisting of pieces of variously colored glass, cut into irregular shapes and fastened together by strips of lead, painted by artists of superior merit especially trained for the work, representing biblical subjects and characters and intended to be used as windows in a religious institution, imported in fragments to be put together in this country in the form of such windows, are subject to the duty of 45 percent imposed by paragraph 122 of the Tariff Act of October 1, 1890, 26 Stat. 573, c. 1244, upon stained or painted window glass and stained or painted glass windows wholly or partly manufactured, and not specially provided for in this act, and not to the duty imposed by paragraph 677, 26 Stat. 608, c. 1244, upon paintings specially imported in good faith for the use of any society or institution established for religious purposes and not intended for sale.
This case arose out of the importation of certain stained-glass windows containing effigies of saints and other representations of Biblical subjects. These windows were imported and entered November 24, 1890, as "paintings" upon glass for the use of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, located at Philadelphia, and consisted of pieces of variously colored glass cut into irregular shapes, and fastened together by strips of lead, and intended to be used for decorative purposes in churches, and when so used are placed upon the interior of the window frame, and are backed by an outer window of ordinary white glass. The outer window is necessary, as such paintings require for their proper exhibition a transmitted light. These paintings had been executed by artists of superior merit, especially trained for the work, and represented Biblical subjects and characters, such as St. Agnes, St. Joseph teaching our Lord, St. Mark the Evangelist, and St. Peter, and other pictorial representations of like kind, designed for religious instruction and edification. They did not come to this country in a completed state, but in fragments, to be put together in the form of windows. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Upon these articles the collector of the port levied and collected a duty of 45 percent imposed by paragraph 122 of the Tariff Act of October 1, 1890, 26 St. 573, c. 1244, upon "stained or painted window glass and stained or painted glass windows, . . . wholly or partly manufactured, and not specially provided for in this act."
Against this classification defendant duly and seasonably protested, claiming the articles were exempt from duty as
"paintings . . . specially imported in good faith for the use of any society or institution . . . established for religious . . . purposes, . . . and not intended for sale,"
under paragraph 677. A hearing was had before the board of general appraisers, who overruled the protest and affirmed the action of the collector. Respondents thereupon filed a petition in the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, praying for a review of the decision of the general appraisers, as provided in section 15 of the Act of June 10, 1890, 26 St. 138, c. 407. The circuit court reversed the decision of the board of appraisers and held the paintings to be entitled to free entry. In re Perry, 47 F.1d 0. From this decision the United States appealed to this Court.