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The papers submitted by Mr. Lane are as follows:
BRIEF ON BEHALF OF IMPORTERS OF CHURCH REGALIA. The COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: Paragraph 661 of the free list of the tariff act of 1909 exempts from duty regalia used in the public exercises of religious and other institutions. The full text of paragraph 661, so far as it affects this class of articles, is as follows: “* Regalia and gems, where specially imported in good faith for the use and by order of any society incorporated or established solely for religious, philosophical, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the encouragement of the fine arts, or for the use and by order of any college, academy, school, seminary of learning, orphan asylum or public hospital in the United States or any State or public library, and not for sale, subject to such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe; but the term “regalia,' as herein used, shall be held to embrace only such insignia of rank or office or emblems as may be worn upon the person or borne in the hand during public exercises of the society or institution, and shall not include articles of furniture or fixtures, or of regular wearing apparel, nor personal property of individuals.”
This provision has been in force for nearly 40 years. It may therefore be presumed to have a basis in sound public policy. Nor has the country's need of revenue ever been so great as to make it necessary to tax the chalice upon the altar, the vestments of the pricst, or the censors and crosses of the sacred procession.
Our mixed population has brought many creeds and rituals from many lands, and it is often impracticable, if not impossible, to supply their needs, except in those countries where the traditions of their religion and its symbolism are fully understood. At the hearings before your committee on the tariff act of 1909, however, four domestic manuiacturing concerns requested that a duty be placed upon sacred vessels and other regalia. (Tariff Hearings, coth Cong., 1908 and 1909, free list, pp. 7356-7360.)
It is not surprising that, although a majority of the Committee on Ways and Means at that time was sincerely committed to the policy of protection to American industries, it refused to disturb the exemption of this class of articles as it had stood for many years.
Anticipating that a similar attempt will be made before your committee, we respectfully protest against any change in the law affecting regalia as it now stands in paragraph 661 of the tariff act of 1909. We represent not only ourselves, but the thousands of churches and religious institutions who supply themselves with these articles through us. The consumer gets the full benefit of the exemption. He has to make the affidavits which entitle the merchandise to free entry. He thus knows that his goods will come in duty free, and the importer could not, if he might wish, do otherwise than quote these articles upon a duty free basis. Respectfully submitted.
BENZIGER BROS., 36-38 Barclay Street, New York City.
FREDERICK Puster & Co., 52 Barclay Street, New York City. C. WILDERMANN Co., 17 Barclay Street, New York City. B. HERDER, St. Louis, Mo.
DIEDERICH SCHAEFFER Co., Milwaukee, Wis., Importers of Church Regalia.
CURIE, Smith & MAXWELL, Attorneys, No. 32 Broadway, New York City.
Thomas M. LANE, Of Counsel.
BRIEP ON BEHALF OF IMPORTERS OF COMPOSITION CHURCH STATUARY.
The COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: The undersigned are importers of casts of sculpture, or plaster or composition figures, for use in churches, and respectfully ask your committee and Congress to restore to the free list the provision covering such articles as it stood during the 12 years of the life of the tariff act of 1897.
The corresponding provisions in the tariff acts of 1897 and 1909 are paragraph 649 of the former act and paragraph 661 of the latter, which read as follows:
Paragraph 649, tariff act of 1897: “Regalia and gems, statuary, and specimens or casts of sculpture, where specially imported in good faith for the use and by order of any society incorporated or established solely for the religious, philosophical, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the encouragement of the fine arts, or for the use and by order of any college, academy, school, or seminary of learning in the United States, or any State or public library, and not for sale; but the term 'regalia'as herein used shall be held to embrace only such insignia of rank or office or emblems as may be worn upon the person or borne in the hand during public exercises of the society or institution and shall not include articles of furniture or fixtures, or of regular wearing apparel, nor personal property of individuals."
Paragraph 661, tariff act of 1909: "Statuary and casts of sculpture for use as models or for art educational purposes only; regalia and gems, where specially imported in good faith for the use and by order of any society incorporated or established solely for religious, philosophical, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, or for the encouragement of the fine arts, or for the use and by order of any college, academy, school, seminary of learning, orphan asylum, or public hospital in the United States, or any State or public library, and not for sale, subject to such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe; but the terms regalia’ as herein used shall be held to embrace only such insignia of rank or office or emblems as may be worn upon the person or borne in the hand during public exercises of the society or institution, and shall not include articles of furniture or fixtures, or of regular wearing apparel, nor personal property of individuals.”
The provision for "statuary and specimens or casts of sculpture,” as found in paragraph 649 of the tariff act of 1897, was undoubtedly intended by Congress to cover all statuary imported for the use of churches whether of marble, metal, or composition. Paragraph 454 of that act, however, contained a clause providing that the term "statuary," as used in the act, should be understood to include only such statuary as is "cut, carved or otherwise wrought by hand from a solid block of marble, alabaster, metal,” etc. When, therefore, the question of the classification of molded composition or plaster of Paris church figures came before the Supreme Court, in Benziger v. United States (192 U. S., 38), it felt constrained to rule that the restrictive defining clause prevented such articles from being denominated “statuary” within the meaning of paragraph 649, but it nevertheless held such figures to be “casts” within the meaning of the same provision and free of duty thereunder as “casts of sculpture." As the result of this decision of the highest court these composition church figures and bas reliefs, when imported for the use and by order of churches and other institutions, were admitted free of duty during the entire life of the tariff act of 1897. As will appear hereafter, the Supreme Court was merely following the construction that for many years had been given to the provision for casts” appearing in the tariff acts.
When the tariff hearings upon the act of 1909 were held before the Committee on Ways and Means, a small coterie of American manufacturers of so-called church statuary appeared before the committee, and, upon representations that the industry was in need of protection, succeeded in having the law changed and the long-standing privilege of free entry for composition church figures revoked. As will be seen from a comparison of the paragraphs quoted above, this was accomplished very simply by inserting the words " for use as models or for art educational purposes only,” immediately following the provision for "statuary and casts of sculpture,” thus depriving churches, public buildings, etc., of the right to import statuary and casts free on their own order, and practically limiting the right of exemption to art schools or museums.
We ask your committee to put the law back in its original form by striking out the phrase "for use as models or for art educational purposes only." This is the only change we request, and it will give to all the institutions named the full privileges of the paragraph, which were taken from the greater part of them by adding 10 words in the tarifi act of 1909. The advantage thus secured to the millions of people supporting churches far outweighs the importance of increasing the private gain of a few manufacturers.
We respectfully offer the following reasons why the change requested should be made:
THE DOMESTIC INDUSTRY IS UPON A COMPETITIVE BASIS WITHOUT THE DUTY,
The result of the change in the law brought about by the domestic manufacturer is, that if a church imports one of these casts upon its own order and for its own use, it must pay a duty of 35 per cent of 60 per cent (under par. 464, 95, or 93, respectively),
depending upon the component materials, and the maker of the articles in this country secures a corresponding measure of protection.
It can be demonstrated that the duty thus imposed is ineffective as a revenue measure, being almost prohibitive of importation, and that the plea for protection can not be justified upon any sound economic grounds, for the reason that the business is upon a competitive basis without it.
The effect of the duty in stifling competition can be illustrated by the experience of a single importer. Messrs. Benziger Bros., of New York, one of the largest importers of church casts, imported these articles during the six years from 1904 to 1909, inclusive, at an average in foreign value of $12,312.82 per year. During the three years from 1910 to 1912, inclusive, the average was $1,740.33 per year. In other words, the importations have decreased 85 per cent since the amendment of the law.
In the brief filed by the domestic manufacturers at the tariff hearings in 1908 and 1909 (Tariff Hearings, 60th Cong., Free List, p. 7352), the yearly sales of these articles in the United States was estimated at $1,000,000, of which it was stated that the domestic industry sold about $600,000. Thus, it appears upon their own showing that they controlled 60 per cent of the market at the time they were seeking the protection which was afterwards given them. How much more of this business they have acquired since then may be inferred from the experience of the importer mentioned above.
If any further evidence is needed that the industry is upon a competitive basis without the duty, it is supplied by the figures at which the leading domestic manufacturers are selling the casts at the present time.
There are appended to this brief (pp. 11-14) cuts showing actual reproductions of figures illustrating the same subjects and of substantially the same quality and quantity of workmanship from catalogues of four of the leading houses handling this class of goods, two of them being domestic manufacturers and two importing houses.
The domestic manufacturers are the Daprato Statuary Co. and the Bernardini Statuary Co. The importers are Benziger Bros. and Mayer & Co. The catalogue prices of the domestic manufacturers are those prevailing at the time of writing this brief, which were also the prices in force in 1909. The prices of the importers are the prices free of duty which prevailed in 1909, before the passage of the new tariff act, since which time the foreign value of these figures has advanced.
The casts selected are typical and were chosen at random, and it will be found in every instance that the prices quoted by the domestic concerns are lower than the duty-free prices quoted by the importing concern for figures of the same height and character.
Take, for illustration, the four subjects shown by the cuts appended to this brief and comparing figures of the same height in “rich” decoration, we find the following scale of prices quoted for churches:
A corresponding difference will be found in the other sizes and decorations shown by the cuts.
Some importers, as, for example, Mayer & Co., quote much higher prices than Benziger Bros.
THE PRESENT LAW INVOLVES UNJUST DISCRIMINATIONS.
A state of the law which permits the importation of costly statues by rich congregations free of duty and imposes taxes upon articles of a less artistic and expensive character
PARAGRAPH 487–ALIZARIN. imported by poor congregations is an unjust discrimination to which Congress should not give its sanction.
Wealthy churches can import costly and beautiful statues under the provision for works of art in paragraph 716. These cheap plaster figures and “Stations of the cross" are an indispensable feature of worship in thousands of poor churches scattered throughout the country which are supported by the voluntary contributions of the laboring classes.
The amendment inserted in the tariff act of 1909 by which these articles were excluded from free entry was a departure from the long-established practice of Congress to accord free entry to articles imported for educational and religious purposes. That privilege is given in the same act to many articles open to the same objections against their free entry as were urged against these casts. Thus we find on the free list books, maps, music, photographs, etchings, lithographic prints and charts (Par. 519), philosophical and scientific apparatus, utensils, instruments, and preparations (Par. 650), regalia and gems (Par. 661), works of art (Par. 716), etc., all of which pay no duty when imported for educational or religious institutions. Even theatrical properties may be brought into the country for a year without paying duty (Par. 656). The publishers of the United States, the manufacturers of laboratory apparatus and utensils, of theatrical properties and works of art, have as much right to ask that the religious and educational institutions, or the theatrical managers, pay duty on the products thus exempted, as have the manufacturers of church statuary and casts.
If any articles imported for religious or educational purposes are to be admitted free, then we submit there are no articles which are more entitled to that privilege than those which form the subject of this communication.
THE PROPOSED CHANGE ACCORDS WITH THE POLICY OF CONGRESS. We respectfully submit that the Supreme Court in Benziger v. United States (192 U.S., 38), correctly stated the intent and uniform policy of Congress and the practice of the executive branch of the Government thereunder. Thus, after reviewing the earlier statutes upon the subject, the court says (p. 45):
"An examination of the provisions of the various statutes shows a somewhat uniform purpose on the part of Congress to provide free entry to casts of marble, bronze, alabaster or plaster of Paris, and also statuary and specimens of sculpture, when specially imported in good faith for the societies enumerated in the acts.''
The court called attention to a decision of the Treasury Department in 1891 in which, considering such claims as those advanced on behalf of the manufacturers, it said:
“The department believes that the crude or inartistic character of the figures under consideration can not be urged as a reason for their exclusion from the benefits of free entry. It is fair to infer a liberal intention on the part of Congress from the fact of its inclusion of religious institutions among those to which the privilege of free entry is extended. Religious institutions are not schools of art, nor can congregations without adequate means always consult esthetic rules in regard to the equipment of their churches. It is the sentiment of pious associations which gives the figure its efficiency as an aid to the religious worship, and the plaster cast may in this way be as serviceable to the humble worshiper as the more costly work of genius."
That the promotion of religion, irrespective of sect or creed, accords with our traditions and fundamental laws need hardly be argued. As the Supreme Court observed in the Holy Trinity Church case (143 U. S., 457, 465, 470):
"No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, State or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present time there is a single voice making this affirmation.
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they aflirm and reaflirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons; they are organic utterences; they speak the voice of the entire people.'
Casts imported for educational societies have been free since 1816, those imported for churches were free from 1861 to 1870 and from 1883 to the passage of the tariff act of 1909. Some further reason should be shown for discontinuing this policy than the desire of a small group of manufacturers to increase their profits at the expense of the churches.
We respectfully submit that a return to the phraseology used in paragraph 649 of the tariff act of 1897 is justified by every sound consideration, as it will restore to all
PARAGRAPH 487-ALIZARIN. of the institutions named privileges of free entry which were taken from them by the amendment of 1909; it will give them the benefit of a fair competition between the domestic and foreign producer, and while taking from a few domestic concerns the monopoly which they now enjoy, will not in the least endanger their hold upon the greater part of the business done in this country.
MAYER & Co.,
45 Barclay Street, New York City. BENZIGER BROS.,
36–38 Barclay Street, New York City. FREDERICK Puster & Co.,
52 Barclay Street, New York City. C. WILDERMANN Co.,
17 Barclay Street, New York City. B. HERDER, St. Louis, Mo. CURRIE, SMITH & Maxwell, Attorneys,
32 Broadway, New York City. Thomas M. LANE, Of Counsel.
Extracts from the catalogues of Daprato Statuary Co., domestic manufacturers.
Extracts from the catalogues of the Bernardini Statuary Co., domestic manufacturers.