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Consmiller v. United States

3 Ct. Cust. App. 298 (1912)

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Consmiller v. United States

United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals

3 Ct. Cust. App. 298 (1912)

Facts

The Tariff Act of 1909 imposed a 50 percent ad valorem duty on marble creations and a 15 percent ad valorem duty on sculptures, including those made of marble. The Tariff Act defined sculptures as original works of art created by professional sculptors. An importer (defendant) brought marble mantels into the United States. The customs collector determined that the mantels were marble creations that were not sculptures and assessed a 50 percent duty. The importer appealed to the board of general appraisers (the board), arguing that the mantels were sculptures that were subject to a 15 percent duty. At the hearing, the importer presented the testimony of Ernest Plancon, the foreman who oversaw the workshop where the mantels were created. Plancon was a marble mason and sculptor who had apprenticed under sculptors and had taken classes, but never graduated, from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. None of Plancon’s sculptures had ever been displayed in a gallery or a museum. After hearing Plancon’s testimony, the board determined that Plancon was an artisan rather than a sculptor. Because the mantels had been created in a workshop overseen by an artisan, the board determined that the mantels were not sculptures and affirmed the customs collector. The importer appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Smith, J.)

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