| Documentary History of American Carillons | Chronological List of Carillons in the United States | History of American Bell Foundries |
The United States has imposed a variety of import tariffs since 1789 to fund the federal government, restrict imports and protect domestic manufacturers, and as a negotiating tool to reduce trade barriers. Individual items subject to tariffs and the applicable rate charged were subject to political influence from manufacturers, importers, end users, and others.
A carillon of 43 bells for the St. Joseph's Cathedral in Buffalo paid an import tariff of $2,200 in 1869, or about 10% of the value of the bells. A chime of bells for St. Michael's Church in Charleston was exempted from import duties by an act of Congress in 1881, but these bells had been sent to England to be recast. Efforts were made in Congress to remiss or refund the duty on bells for the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia in 1882, but it was voted down by the House of Representatives. Congress also allowed a set of chimes for Iowa State College to be imported duty-free in 1899.
The duty on the first modern carillon in the United States for the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Gloucester, Massachusetts was remitted by an act of Congress in 1922. A 1924 bill remitted the tariff for the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Providence, Rhode Island. Several other bills were introduced by 1929 but none were successful.
Testimony for various congressional tariff hearings in the 1920s and early 1930s include substantial information about the history of carillons and American bell foundries attempts to impose high import tariffs on imported bells.
The tariff on imported carillons was gradually lowered and eventually abolished. Additional details will be added here.
1868 A carillon of 43-bells for the St. Joseph's Cathedral in Buffalo, New York were charged an import tariff of $2,200, or about 10% on the value of the bells. (see 1911 reference below)
Michael's Chimes, Charleston, S.C., June 4, 1880, House Report No.
1619, 46th Congress, 2d Session.
That it has a chime of bells, which were brought from England for it in the year 1764, when the said State was a colony of Great Britain. The bells remained in the church until the evacuation of Charleston in 1782 by the British, when they were carried off by their forces, and, against the orders of Sir Guy Carleton, the commander of the British at New York, taken to England. Then they were purchased by Mr. Byhenew and' returned to the church, where they remained until the last siege of Charleston. They were then sent to Columbia in the State of South Carolina for safe-keeping, and, having been greatly injured at the burning of said city, were, in the year 1866, sent to England to be recast or repaired. The bells were returned to the said church in the year 1867, and the duties on them for such reimportation remitted by act of Congress.
1881 An act to admit free of duty one of the bells of Saint Michael's chimes, Charleston, South Carolina, which has been sent to England to be recast, March 2, 1881, 21 Stat 640, Chap 126.
on a Chime of Bells for the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia, Pa.,
July 15, 1882, House Report 1632, 47th Congress, 1st Session.
This proposal was not passed by Congress.
Chime of Bells for Holy Trinity," The Philadelphia Times,
July 16, 1882, Page 1.
Remission or refunding of duty on a chime of bells.
and the Tariff," The Philadelphia Times, January 26, 1883,
As fast as bills were read Mr. Kelley would rise and object, and on one occasion he created a laugh by opposing a bill to admit free of duty a chime of bells for tho Church of tho Holy Trinity at Philadelphia.
157 An Act Providing for the entry, free of customs duties, of certain
bells presented by Edwin M. Stanton to the Iowa Agricultural College,
of Ames, Iowa, Fifty-fifth Congress, Session III.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized to instruct the collector of customs at the port of importation to admit to entry, free of customs duties, one certain set of bells presented by Edwin M. Stanton to the Iowa Agricultural College, Ames, Iowa. Approved, February 15, 1899
History of Buffalo: Delineating the Evolution of the City,
Volume 2, by Josephus Nelson Larned
Page 75: St. Joseph's Cathedral
Wishing to give his cathedral the distinction of a surpassingly fine chime of bells, Bishop Timon, in 1865, ordered an arrangement of forty-three bells from a famous bell-foundry at Paris. The bells were cast in 1866, exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1867, and arrived in Buffalo in 1868. Including a duty of $2,200, their cost when they reached the cathedral was nearly $24,000.
Act To reduce tariff duties and to provide revenue for the Government,
and for other purposes. Public Law 16. Tariff of 1913
373. Musical instruments or parts thereof, pianoforte actions and parts thereof, cases for musical instruments, pitch pipes tuning forks, tuning hammers, and metronomes strings for musical instruments, composed wholly or in part of steel or other metal, all the foregoing, 35 per centum ad valorem.
Information Surveys: series N, on the articles in Paragraphs 373,
374, and 375 of the Tariff Act of 1913, United States Tariff Commission
Page 31: Rates of duty - Musical instruments and phonographs
1883 - 25 per cent ad valorem
1894 - 25 per cent ad valorem
1897 - 45 per cent ad valorem
1909 - 45 per cent ad valorem
1913 - 35 per cent ad valorem
of Duty on a Carillon of Bells, February 3, 1922, Senate Report No.
481, 67th Congress, 2d Session.
The Committee on Finance, to whom was referred the bill (S. 1610) to remit the duty on a carillon of bells to be imported for the Church -of Our Lady of Good Voyage, Gloucester, Mass., having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that the bill do pass without amendment.
1922 "Gloucester Church Bonded Warehouse," Boston Globe, April 11, 1922, Page 5.
1922 "Admit Chimes Duty Free," New York Times, April 23, 1922, Page 36.
167.- An Act to remit the duty on a carillon of bells to be imported for
the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage, Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Private Law 61, 67th Congress.
Church or our Lady States of America in Congress assembled, that the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to admit free of duty a certain carillon of twenty-five bells to be imported for the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Approved, April 28, 1922.
Act of 1922 (Fordney-McCumber Tariff), September 21, 1922, Public
Par. 1443. Musical instruments and parts thereof, not specially provided for, pianoforte or player actions and parts thereof, cases for musical instruments, pitch pipes, tuning forks, tuning hammers, and metronomes, strings for musical instruments composed wholly or in part of steel or other metal, all the foregoing, 40 per centum ad valorem
1923 "Bells for House of Hope Church, St. Paul, Minn.," Congressional Record 64(1):3825
Continent 54(11):336 (March 15, 1923)
Congress recently passed a bill remitting duty on a carillon of bells to be imported for the House of Hope church, Minneapolis, Dr. H.C. Swearingen pastor. The bell are worth about $15,000 and the duty would have been about $7,500. The bells, which are to be imported from Belgium, were a present to the church, the donor being unable to find a foundry in the United States that could make them.
[This bill did not pass Congress.]
1924 Eidlitz & Son Inc. v. United States, 12 Ct. Cust. 56, January 24, 1924 · United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals · No. 2254
3.—An Act To remit the duty on a carillon of bells to be imported for
the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Providence, Rhode Island.
Private Law 66, 67th Congress
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to admit free of duty a certain carillon of sixteen bells to be imported for the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Providence, Rhode Island. Approved, December 2, 1924
The Carillon to be Imported by the Park Avenue Baptist Church, New
York, Senate Document No. 118, 69th Congress, 1st Session, May
21, 1926 | pdf |
Letters of Mr. Frederick C. Mayer, William Gorham Rice and others.
1928 "Celler's Bill Fights Duty on Good Counsel Carillon," Brooklyn Daily Times, January 18, 1928, Page 94.
1928 Remission of Duty on a Carillon of Bells for Princeton University, May 3, 1928, Senate Report No. 1259, 70th Congress, 1st Session.
1928 "Seek to Import Bells to Ames Free from Duty," The Des Moines Register, December 20, 1928, Page 20.
1929 Tariff Readjustment
- 1929, Hearings, February 18-19, 1929, Schedule 14 - Sundries
Pages 7819-7877: Carillons (Par 1443) | pdf |
Page 7875: The Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church was erected in 1924 and 1925. The carillon was imported in 1925 at a cost of $9,612 plus a duty of $3,900.73.
Importers Throw Down Gauntlet At Tariff Hearing," The Baltimore
Sun, February 19, 1929, Page 2.
U.S. Cannot Produce Carillons
Bok Tower carillon paid $33,000 duty.
The Park Avenue Baptist Church carillon cost $250,000 and paid $100,000 additional in duty.
1929 "Carillon Tariff Asked by Group of Bell Makers," The Knickerbocker Press, February 20, 1929, Page 3.
Act of 1929: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Finance,
United States Senate, Seventy-first Congress, First Session on H.R.
2667, an Act to Provide Revenue, to Regulate Commerce with Foreign
Countries, to Encourage the Industries of the United States, to Protect
American Labor, and for Other Purposes, Volume 15, June 1929
Pages 765-802: Carillons, Par. 1541(c)
Page 778: The question of admitting carillons free from duty has been before Congress for many years.
In 1909 the first bill was passed admitting a carillon free from duty. This carillon does not come up to the modern test but we are informed that the people who imported that carillon are now importing some further bells and are asking Congress to admit them free from duty.
In 1922 Congress passed a bill admitting free of duty bells for the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage at Gloucester, Mass.
In 1923 Senator Kellogg, later Secretary of State, introduced and we are informed had passed in Congress a bill to exempt from duty a carillon of 28 bells for the House of Good Hope at St. Paul, Minn.
In 1924 Senator Gerry introduced a bill exempting a carillon of 34 bells for Providence, and this was passed as Senate bill No. 3397.
1929 "U.S. Donors Protest Duty on Carillons," Philadelphia Inquirer, December 25, 1929, Page 22.
Donors Protest Against Present Tariff," Meriden Record,
December 26, 1929, Page 1 | Part
2 | Part
Chairman Smoot deluged with letters urging removal of 40% rate.
Arguing a lower duty would encourage others to make similar donations, Walter F. Tilton president of je Norwood Trust company Norwood, Mass., said the rates should be cancelled or materially reduced. Two years ago Tilton gave the city of Norwood a carillon of 50 bells costing $50,000 as a memorial to World war dead .He paid $10,754 duty.
Tariff Act of 1930 (Smoot–Hawley Tariff), March 13, 1930, Public Law
Par. 364. Bells (except church and similar bells and carillons), finished or unfinished, and parts thereof, 50 per centum ad valorem. Effective date June 24, 1931.
Par. 1541 (c) Carillons, and parts thereof, 20 per centum ad valorem. Effective date June 24, 1931.
Chime, and Carillons: Report to the President on the Differences in
Costs of Production of Bells, Chimes, and Carillons, Finished Or
Unfinished, and Parts Thereof in the United States and in the
Principal Competing Country, as Ascertained Pursuant to the Provisions
of Section 336 of Title III of the Tariff Act of 1930. With Appendix,
by United States Tariff Commission
Page 4: Carillons. Findings and Conclusions.
The domestic industry producing large cast bells is physically equipped to produce carillons which under the tariff classification consist of 23 or more bells tuned to the chromatic scale, and which may be played upon as a musical instrument. The domestic bell foundries have produced only two carillons; one, a set of 23 bells in 1923, and the other, a set of 25 bells in 1929. It can not therefore, be said that there is a carillon industry in the United States. Most of the 31 carillons now in use in the United States were made in the United Kingdom by methods developed on the Continent two or three hundred years ago and recently rediscovered. In view of the practical absence of a domestic industry for which to ascertain costs of production, the commission concludes that it is impracticable for it to make an investigation under section 336 of the tariff act of 1930. Moreover, even if there were a domestic industry, the wide differences in number and size of bells and in mountings and necessary equipment would make difficult or impracticable the selection of comparable articles for cost investigation.
It should be noted that the rate of duty on carillons was in the tariff act of 1930 reduced from the 40 per cent imposed by the act of 1922 to 20 per cent and that no substantial domestic production under the higher rate was established.
on S.2403 to refund the duty on a carillon imported by Grace Protestant
Episcopal Church, Plainfield, New Jersey, February 21, 1934.
Bill would refund the $3,743.80 duty paid on the carillon in 1923.
1934 The Tariff and Its History: A Collection of Information on the General Subject of the Tariff and Its History, as Well as the History of the Tariff Commission, Being Mostly Excerpts from the Dictionary of Tariff Information Published by the Tariff Commission in 1924 and Now Out of Print
Agreement Between the United States and the United Kingdom, November
28, 1938 (T. D. 49753)
Page 278: 1541 (c) Effective January 1, 1939
Carillons containing not more than thirty-four bells, and parts thereof - 20% ad val.
Carillons containing more than thirty-four bells, and parts thereof - 10% ad val.
Story of the Davis Memorial Carillon," Bulletin No. 3,
Historical Series No. 1, January 1940
Page 12. Being works of art and over one hundred years old, under Uncle Sam’s customs rules, the carillon came in duty free.
3 to Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated, United States
Tariff Commission (1963)
Schedule 7. - Specified Products, Miscellaneous and Nonenumerated Products
Part 3. - Musical Instruments, Parts, and Accessories
Sets of tuned bells known as chimes, peals, or carillons:
Item 725.34 Containing not over 22 bells - 10% ad val.
Item 725.36 Containing over 22 but not over 34 bells - 14% ad val.
Item 725.38 Containing over 34 bells - 6.5% ad val.
Act relating to the tariff treatment of certain articles, October
17, 1980, Public Law 96-467, 94 Stat. 2220
Sec. 6. Permanent Duty-Free Treatment for Certain Carillon Bells
(a)(1) Item 725.38 of the Tariff Schedules of the United States (19 U.S.C. 1202, relating to chimes, peals, or carillons containing over 34 bells) is amended by striking out "2.6% ad val." and inserting in lieu thereof "Free".
(2) The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall apply with respect to articles entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(b)(1) The Secretary of the Treasury shall admit free of duty 47 carillon bells (including all accompanying parts and accessories) for the use of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, such bells being provided by the Paccard Fonderie de Cloches, Annecy, France.
(2) The Secretary of the Treasury shall admit free of duty 49 carillon bells (including all accompanying parts and accessories) for the use of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, such bells being provided by Koninkligke Eijsbouts B.V., Asten, The Netherlands.
© 2022 Morris A. Pierce