I frequently search the Internet for late-breaking stories about beads and beaded jewelry. But what about news from the past? What were people saying about beads 100 years ago? Recently, I searched for bead stories published in the 1910s. I found my first result rather amusing.
On May 1, 1911, the New York Times published an article about one L. Littauer who imported a strand of black hexagonal beads for his wife. He was charged a 60 percent tax to bring the beads into the U.S., which he contested. He claimed that he should only be taxed at 45 percent, the duty for glass items, such as loose beads. Littauer was overruled, however, because the Board of U.S. General Appraisers decided that the strand was not a temporarily strung grouping of loose beads but a permanent necklace (that is, an “article used for the embellishment of wearing apparel”), which was correctly taxed at 60 percent. What criteria did they use to differentiate between a temporary strand of loose beads and a permanent necklace? A clasp, you say? No, knots. The beads were strung on cotton cords, one of which was knotted to “maintain a permanent space between the several beads.”
So what have we learned? Be careful about what you do and do not knot – the existential implications of your jewelry are in your hands!
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re: Breaking bead news from 1911
Tue, Apr 29 2008 12:48 PM
That was interesting to read :) Thanks!