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PARAGRAPH 436-MATCHES. LETTER AND BRIEF OF WARREN B. HUTCHINSON, NEW YORK, N. Y., CONCERNING
New York, January 16, 1913. The CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. Sır: My letter to your committee is on behalf of several companies which I represent, and which are interested in the tariff as affecting matches, on the double ground that they manufacture matches in this country and also import them. Section No. 436 of the present tariff regulations reads as follows:
“436. Matches, friction or lucifer, of all descriptions, per gross of one hundred and forty-four boxes, containing not more than one hundred matches per box, six cents per gross; when imported otherwise than in boxes containing not more than one hundred matches each, three-fourths of one cent per one thousand matches; wax and fancy matches and tapers, thirty-five per centum ad valorem.”
I do not understand the reason for the peculiar phraseology of this section. Practically, it works a great hardship on the importer, and especially on the public, without any corresponding benefit to anyone.
The popular size of match boxes for family use is a box which contains approximately 500 matches. This size is getting to be so generally used for household purposes that its use might be said to be almost universal for this purpose. This, then, is the size of box which is chiefly affected by the section referred to. Practically it works out in this way. A gross of matches containing not more than 100 matches to the box, or 14,400 matches, pays an import of 6 cents; whereas a gross of matches with 500 matches to the box, or 72,000 matches, instead of paying a duty of 30 cents, which would be the natural duty based on the 6 cents per 100-box rate, amounts to 54 cents per 100. It would seem that this peculiar rate is a direct injury to the housekeeper, and if there is any reason for it, it is past finding out by myself and my clients.
We would suggest to your committee that the rate per 1,000 matches should be uniform at least, but that if there is to be any variations in the rate, owing to increased size of boxes, the rate should be reduced gradually on the larger sizes, rather than increased, because the larger boxes go directly into the home for practical and necessary uses, whereas the smaller sizes are used as articles of luxury by sınokers, mostly. This applies especially to boxes of 100 or less, which can be carried in the pocket, whereas boxes containing upward of 100 are used in the house, and therefore the increased tariff is a direct burden on the people least able to pay it.
It is suggested to your committee, therefore, that this inequitable arrangement of the present schedule should be adjusted so as to avoid discriminating against the household consumer, and further that the rate should not be increased. The present rate is such that it practically bars out the foreign match, although it is well known in the trade that the matches of European make are superior to those of domestic manufacture. If the rate is lowered rather than raised, the result will be to compel the American manufacturer to make a better match, and the public will distinctly benefit thereby. Respectfully submitted.
WARREN B. HUTCHINSON.
RE SCHEDULE N, MATCHES.
SALVATION Match Co.,
New York, January 24, 1913. To the chairman and members of the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
GENTLEMEN: Supplementing my letter of the 16th instant, concerning the tariff on matches, permit me to say that I have been advised that the largest match manufacturing concern in America is engaged in an effort to have the duty on "safety” matches increased. This duty at present is 6 cents per gross of 144 boxes containing less than 100 matches to the box.
It may appear strange to your committee to have a match manufacturer plead against an increased duty on safety matches. My reasons for doing this will appear below. Safety matches in the United States are made by only one concern, to wit. the Diamond Match Co., and this concern does not make them very extensively, Safety matches have not as yet entered seriously into competition with the strikeanywhere match, for the reason that the American public is educated to use the strike-anywhere match, and if this style of match is made with an impregnated splint and a nonpoisonous tip, it is as safe as the safety match, and has the advantage of striking on any surface.
I am credibly advised that the Diamond Match Co. has spent an enormous sum in the manufacture of safety-match machinery, and I do not make this as an accusation, but it would seem that the object of this corporation is to procure a high tariff on safety matches, also procure State and municipal legislation which will require the use of these matches, and thus give them a stronger monopoly on the match trade than they have ever had, and, as is well known to your committee, this company has been almost in control of the match trade in America for the last 30 or 40 years.
Your attention is called to an item published in the Chicago Evening Post of January 17, 1913, as follows:
*Chicago will use safety matches exclusively after July 1, if the recommendation which the council building committee adopted to-day is passed by the council. The matter came up during consideration of sections of the fire prevention bureau ordinance, which were not passed when the bureau was established.”
This is a sample of what is taking place in very many of the larger cities and in many of the States. I have no legal evidence to offer to your committee that this is done on behalf of any one corporation or set of corporations, but this would not affect the material fact which, as I understand it, is this: That if the tariff is raised abnormally so as to practically exclude foreign safety matches, it makes it a perfectly feasible scheme for a corporation or combination of corporations to procure legislation of the kind specified, and thus create a monopoly in themselves to the destruction of every other manufacturer in the business.
This, then, is the reason why we, as match manufacturers, oppose any raising of duty on safety matches. The admission of such matches under the present regulations does not interfere with the business of the ordinary match manufacturer, because the total imports of matches of all kinds, as I understand it, are only 5 per cent of the total volume of trade, and the safety match does not enter into competition with the ordinary household match which strikes on any surface.
Custom in trade matters is very strong, and the trade it is thought would not accept safety matches unless they are made in the ordinary way and packed in the ordinary veneer or wood box of commerce. American woods can not be utilized for making boxes such as the trade calls for, and the machinery suitable for strike-anywhere matches is not in all respects adapted to the manufacture of safety matches. Furthermore, practically every manufacturer of matches in the United States is situated, as regards capital, in such a way that it can not afford to go to the enormous expense of importing its box material and revising its factory methods to make safety matches.
Finally, it is submitted that no possible good could come from raising the tariff, as it would result in a larger cost to the consumer, might result, as above pointed out, in putting nearly every manufacturer in this country out of business by creating a monopoly in the manufacture of this match, and it could not benefit the average manufacturer because the safety match, as stated, does not compete with the strikeanywhere match, and he could not make the safety match in any event.
It is therefore respectfully submitted that the raising of duties on safety matches would work a hardship on the consumer, without any corresponding benefit to any one, and it is my opinion that if there is any change whatever in the tariff rates, it should be in the way of lessening rather than increasing the duty on safety matches. Respectfully,
SALVATION Match Co.,
BRIEF OF OHIO MATCH CO., WADSWORTH, OHIO, ET AL.
Hon. OSCAR UNDERWOOD,
Chairman Ways and Means Committee, Washington, D. C. Sir: The undersigned match manufacturers respectfully submit the following statements in regard to the duty on matches. (See paragraph 436, Schedule N.)
There are 26 match factories in the United States according to the census report of 1909, of which number 5 are operated by the Diamond Match Co., and the remainder by various corporations and firms, none of which operates more than one plant. The production of the Diamond Match Co. is variously estimated at from 50 to 60 per cent of the total production of the United States; the production of the undersigned is believed to be about 30 to 40 per cent of the total. "We desire two things:
(1) That no reduction be made in the duties on matches, and that if any change be made in the present law the duties be increased.
(2) That the language of the last clause of paragraph 436 be changed so as to make it clear that safety matches are included in the 35 per cent classification.
PARAGRAPH 436-MATCHES. Omitting a negligible quantity of unusual forms, matches are of two kinds: Those igniting by friction produced by rubbing them upon any rough surface, commonly called "strike anywhere” matches, and those which can be ignited only by rubbing them upon a specially prepared surface, known usually as safety” matches. All but a very small percentage of American-made matches are of the strike anywhere" kind. Practically all of them have been made by the use poisonous white or yellow phosphorus. By the act of April 9, 1912, known as the Hughes bill, the use of this phosphorus in the manufacture of matches is made impossible after July 1, 1913, by a prohibitive internal-revenue tax. After that date, therefore, matches must be made of sesquisulphide or of nonpoisonous red or scarlet phosphorus, or else safety matches must be used exclusively.
In the hearings on the Hughes bill it was stated by several of the experts that the use of nonpoisonous substitutes for the white or yellow phosphorus would add to the cost of production from 5 to 7 per cent. We believe this estimate to be correct. In addition to this added cost of production, it is conceded that no method of manufacture has yet been perfected that will succeed in producing as good a "strike anywhere" match, from the standpoint of the user, as the poisonous phosphorus match. The advantages of the safety match over the “strike anywhere" match will, therefore, be greatly increased. In view of this burden just imposed upon the match industry by the use by Congress of the taxing power, and in view of the further fact that the duties were reduced 25 per cent less than four years ago, we believe that our request is reasonable in asking that no further reduction be made in the import duties while the industry is going through its readjustment to meet the new conditions.
COST OF PRODUCTION.
As we understand the aim of the framers of the proposed new law, they desire, where possible, to effect the reduction of the cost of articles to the ultimate consumer, to product a fair revenue from importations, and at the same time to so legislate as not to produce disaster to either the legitimate capital or to labor employed in American industries. To meet this aim we present the following facts which we believe to be correct and to fairly present the relation of the tariff to the match industry:
The chief items of cost oi production are the wood, the chemicals, and labor. The wood chiefly used in imported matches is the Russian aspen. This wood is sold, delivered at Russian ports, for 30 shillings per load of 50 cubic feet, or $12 per 1,000 feet board measure. The only wood available in America for the production of matches on a large scale is selected white pine. The cost of this wood in this country is from $27 to $35 per 1,000 feet, the variation in price depending on the point of delivery. The cost of the chemicals is considerably higher in the United States than in Europe. The census summary of the match industry, printed on page 17 of the Tariff Handbook, would indicate an excessivley high profit in the business, if it were assumed that the difference between the value of products and the combined value of salaries, wages, and materials there given represented profits. Such is not the fact. An important group of expenses is omitted from that table. We have obtained from the proof sheets of the census report not yet published the summary of all the statistics gathered relating to the match industry. It is as follows:
Manufacture of matches, 1909. Number of establishments...
Salaries, wage earners.
Rent of factory.
$11, 952, 907
9, 680, 082 2,112, 659
429, 201 1,389, 719 4, 598, 874
77, 471 4,521, 407 2, 968, 545
5,950 87, 278
2,000 2,873, 317 11, 353, 138 6, 754, 260 PARAGRAPH 436_MATCHES.
The item of miscellaneous expenses includes such items as overhead charges, cost of patents, transportation, advertising, selling expenses, etc. The labor cost is by no means fully shown by the items of services. Those items only represent the wages paid at the factories where the matches are made, and do not include the cost of labor in the production of materials delivered to the match factories in a finished or partly finished condition. The difference in wages here and in the chief competing countries is very marked. While it is very difficult to get at actual wages in any given factory, we believe that the following table is correct and can be substantiated: Women and girls:
Per day. Belgium..
141 to 33} cents. Germany.
351 to 41) cents. England.
.25 to 45 cents. United States.
.70 cents to $1.75. Boys: Belgium.
141 to 29 cents. Germany.
354 to 53 cents. England.
25 to 40 cents. United States.
80 cents to $1.65. Youths: Belgium....
281 to 48 cents. Germany.
535 cents. England..
40 to 80 cents. United States.
$1.40 to $2. Men partially skilled: Belgium
Not obtainable. Germany.
.594 cents. England.
.80 cents to $1.40. United States..
$1.60 to $2.30. Men skilled: Belgium....
.48 to 674 cents. Germany.
.831 to 951 cents. England..
$1 to $1.40. United States.
.$2 to $3.30. Mechanics and foremen: Belgium....
764 to 86} cents. Germany.
.9 cents to $1.67. England.
.$1.10 to $2.50. United States..
$2.25 to $5.10.
AMOUNT OF REVENUE.
From the table on page 323 of the Tariff Handbook it will be seen that the revenue has tripled under the reduction of duties made by the tariff of 1909. When this increase of importation is considered in connection with the burden of an increased cost of production of from 5 to 7 per cent imposed by the requirements of the Hughes bill, and the increased demand thereby created for safety matches (which are very largely of foreign manufacture), we believe that matches will be found to produce their fair share of revenue as compared with that derived from other sources if the present duties are maintained. A further suggestion as to revenue is made below in connection with the safety” match provision.
THE PRICE TO THE CONSUMER.
Matches are not of the class of articles of which the cost to the ultimate consumer can be reduced by even a very radical reduction in the rates of duty.
According to the tables on pages 322 and 323 of the Tariff Handbook, the import value of 1 gross of boxes of matches, of less than 100 in a box, was $0.218; the duty of 27.59 per cent was $0.06, making a total cost to the importer of $0.278. These boxes ses to the ultimate consumer for 1 cent per box, or by the dozen boxes for 5 cents per dozen. The duty is equal to one-half of 1 cent per dozen. If the entire duty were taken off it is quite evident that the consumer would get no reduction in price.
Again, taking the matches packed in boxes of over 100 per box, these matches sell to the ultimate consumer for 5 cents per box of 500 matches. The rate of duty is three-fourths of 1 cent per 1,000 matches. If the entire duty were taken off the box of 500 matches would still be sold for 5 cents to the consumer.
EXPORTS OF MATCHES.
There has been a persistent effort on the part of some of the American manufac. turers to compete in foreign countries, but they have not succeeded in doing so. They have never been able to export 1 per cent of the production or to increase their sales abroad sufficiently to get any hold on the market. These facts are corroborated by the table of exports of matches, found on page 31 of the Commerce and Navigation Report for 1911. It is as follows: 1903... $58, 330 | 1908.
$68, 426 1904.
92, 280 1905.
80, 877 1906.
77, 106 1907..
71,035 The bulk of these exportations went to Canada where, it is well known, the price of matches is much higher than in the United States. It is impossible to sell a single American match in any European country. This is corroborated by the table of exports to foreign countries, 1911, found on page 646, Commerce and Navigation Report for 1911, as follows: Europe...
None. North America (Canada, $40,591).
$65, 894 South America... Asia...
209 Oceania (Philippines, $1,049).
While the importation of matches is small as compared with the domestic consumption, yet this fact does not result in the absence of competition or in high prices. We are engaged in an industry in which over one-half of the business is done by one concern, the Diamond Match Co. A discussion of that company's affairs is out of place in this brief. It need only be said that its business is carried on with the maximum of efficiency, and it is the only American company interested or engaged in the manufacture of matches abroad, and it is necessary for us, its competitors, to exert ourselves to the utmost at all times to meet the competition of that company. If the duties were lowered and we were subjected to the further competition of foreign match makers it would almost surely result in our being put out of business. The Diamond Match Co., with its close connection with the factories abroad, would then be left the only domestic manufacturers in the field. We are confident that the framers of the proposed legislation do not desire any such result.
We further request that the last clause of paragraph 436, reading:
“Wax and fancy matches and tapers, thirty-five per centum ad valorem"be amended so as to read:
“Wax matches, fancy matches, safety matches, and tapers, thirty-five per centum ad valorem."
We urge this change for the reasons: (1) We believe it will carry out the intention of classification under the present law. (2) It will not affect the selling price of safety matches. (3) It will increase the revenue.
1. In the act of 1909 there was inserted for the first time a provision for fancy matches, as distinguished from friction or lucifer matches. We believe that this provision was intended to provide the so-called safety matches. Such an interpretation was submitted to the Board of General Appraisers for determination. In the trial of the case several witnesses testified that safety matches were known as fancy matches, while, as is usually the case in litigation, other witnesses testified to the contrary. As a result the Board of General Appraisers adopted a definition for fancy matches which included some safety matches and excluded others. This case was not taken up to court for review, and the Treasury Department has since been administering the law in accordance with the interpretation promulgated by the Board of General Appraisers. Recently another case has been litigated and decided by the general appraisers in the same way. This later case has, however, been appealed to the Court of Customs Appeals and is now awaiting decision by that court. It involves only