Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

3-27-52

PREFACE

This compilation of weights and measures laws is the fourth such compilation to be published by the National Bureau of Standards, earlier volumes having been issued in 1904, 1912, and 1926. This volume supersedes National Bureau of Standards Miscellaneous Publication M20, Third Edition (1926), "Federal and State Laws Relating to Weights and Measures".

The information here presented is not elsewhere available in a single volume, and comprises a collection of Federal and State laws, and certain Federal regulations, dealing with the regulatory control of commercial weighing and measuring equipment and practices. The effort has been to bring the material completely up to date through the 1949 sessions of the several State legislatures. The material has been selected for publication on the basis of presenting what will be most useful in this field to weights and measures officials, lawyers, equipment manufacturers, shippers, and business interests in general, and material considered of secondary importance or interest has consistently been eliminated from those sections which are reported.

Citations are given to the latest available official codes or compiled statutes, to the latest generally accepted compiled statutes if “official” works are not available, or, in the case of the more recent enactments, to the session laws. Thus those requiring to do so may readily locate the original sources from which the extracts published herein have been obtained. Dates of original enactment and last amendment are included, insofar as these could be determined. Separate, detailed tables of contents for the laws of each State and for the Federal laws, and a comprehensive topical index of the entire volume combine to provide means for locating quickly and effectively specific statutory provisions of each jurisdiction. There has been for a number of years a growing demand from those enforcing or affected by weights and measures legislation, and from students, for an up to date compilation of the laws on this subject. It is believed that the needs of these groups will be met adequately by this publication. It is believed further, that this presentation of the prevailing statutory basis for weights and measures supervision and control in the United States will tend strongly to promote uniformity among the several jurisdictions and to encourage the strengthening of the laws and the extension of weights and measures supervision to areas not now adequately protected. Such results will be a valuable contribution to the orderly exchange of commodities and services in the commerce of the Nation.

E. U. CONDON,

Director, National Bureau of Standards.

iii

Introduction

CONTENTS

Page

1

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

1. A citation applies to all sections following the citation, to the point where another citation
is given. In the text, when a citation carries over from an "odd" page to the succeeding “even”
page, the citation is repeated and is shown as "continued".

2. The year of original enactment of each section is shown in brackets at the end of the section,
thus: [1911]. If the section has been amended, the year of last amendment is combined with the
year of enactment, thus: [1911; last amended 1929].

3. Editorial notes, placed in brackets and identified as "ED. NOTE", are utilized whenever it is
considered advisable to supply explanatory information of a general character.

4. Footnotes to particular sections, identified by reference numbers, appear in small type
immediately following the section to which they are referenced.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Federal and State

Weights and Measures Laws

INTRODUCTION

The authority of the Congress of the United States in the field of weights and measures is found in the Constitution of the United States in two places in the same section, these being clause 3 and clause 5 of Section 8 of Article I. The first of these is commonly spoken of as the "interstate commerce" clause and the second as the "weights and measures" clause. Enactments under clause 3 are interstate only in their application; enactments under clause 5 are intrastate as well as interstate in their application, and so govern transactions wholly within a State as well as transactions between States. If there is any conflict between the provisions of an "intrastate" Federal law and a State law, the Federal requirement supersedes the conflicting State requirement.

The text of the United States Constitutional provisions is as follows:

Const. U. S., Art. I.

Sec. 8. The Congress shall have Power To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

The Congress has enacted only a very few laws regulating weights and measures or weighing or measuring practices. The principal acts of this character which are now in effect are the following, all of which are reported in the section on Federal laws:

1. The Standard Barrel Act (1915), which establishes a barrel for "fruits, vegetables, and other dry commodities other than cranberries" and another somewhat smaller barrel for cranberries. This act is intrastate in its application.

2. The Standard Lime Barrel Act (1916), which establishes a "large" and a "small" barrel for lime. This act is interstate in its application.

3. The Standard Container Act of 1916, which establishes standard climax baskets for grapes and other fruits and vege tables and standard baskets and other containers for small fruits, berries, and vegetables. This act is interstate in its application.

4. The Standard Container Act of 1928, which establishes standard hampers, round stave baskets, and splint baskets for fruits and vegetables. This act is intrastate in its application.

5. The Packers and Stockyards Act (1921), under which there is prescribed a degree of Federal control over weighing facilities and practices at certain stockyards and live poultry

markets.

6. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (1938), which superseded the Food and Drugs Act (1913), and which, among other provisions, deals with misbranded food, drugs, devices, and cosmetics when in package form. This act is interstate in its application.

For reasons which are not clear at this time the Congress was very slow to act on the subject of

weights and measures during the early years of the Nation's existence. Although there is a record of sporadic discussions relative to the important matter of adoption of standards, beginning with the first message of President Washington on January 8, 1790, the first effective action of the Congress toward this end was the passage of the Mint Act of 1828, the pertinent part of which was as follows:

the brass

That, for the purpose of securing a due conformity in weight of the coins of the United States troy pound procured by the minister of the United States at London, in the year one thousand eight hundred and twentyseven, for the use of the mint, and now in the custody of the Mint at Philadelphia, shall be the standard troy pound of the Mint of the United States, conformably to which the coinage thereof shall be regulated.

In amended form this provision is still in effect, as reported on page 40 under the citation, U. S. Code, 1946 Ed., Title 31, Ch. 8, Sec. 364.

Two after of the Mint Act there was years passage offered to the Senate (on May 29, 1830) a resolution which, being unanimously adopted, started a chain of events which culminated in the establishment of a uniform system of weights and measures standards for the United States. This Senate Resolution was as follows:

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to cause a comparison to be made of the standards of weights and measures now used at the principal custom-houses in the United States, and report to the Senate at the next session of Congress.

The adoption of this resolution followed upon a report to the Senate by one of its committees to the effect that investigation had disclosed differences in the standards used in the custom houses with resulting revenue losses of large amount.

For an account of what immediately followed, quotation is made from National Bureau of Standards Miscellaneous Publication M122, "Weights and Measures in Congress", pp. 14-15:

The Secretary of the Treasury at the time the comparison of standards used in the customhouses was begun was S. D. Ingham. He delegated this work to Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, who was at that time Superintendent of the Coast Survey. Mr. Hassler made his first report on March 3, 1831, which was transmitted to the President of the United States and to the Senate by Secretary Ingham. A more complete report was submitted by Mr. Hassler on June 20, 1832. Louis McLane was Secretary of the Treasury at this time, and in his letter of transmittal to the President of the Senate, Mr. McLane stated that Mr. Hassler's investigations showed that large discrepancies were found to exist among the weights and measures in use at the different ports. While some discrepancies

were large and some small, the average value of the various denominations agreed fairly well with the weights and measures in use in Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution. Mr. McLane further stated: "It is, nevertheless, a serious evil, inasmuch as it produces inequalities in the duties levied at the different ports; and thus contravenes the spirit of the Constitution, which declares that all duties, imposts, and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States. It is believed, however, that this department has full authority to correct the evil, by causing uniform and accurate weights and measures, and authentic standards, to be supplied to all custom houses."

The Secretary of the Treasury gave a broad interpretation to the resolution of May 29, 1830, as is indicated by the statement above, and instructed Mr. Hassler to proceed to the construction of the weights and measures to be supplied to the customhouses in order to assure uniformity in the customs. Preliminary to the construction of these weights and measures, it was necessary to select the units and prepare the standards. It was decided that the yard of 36 inches, the avoirdupois pound of 7,000 grains, the gallon of 231 cubic inches, and the bushel of 2,150.42 inches be adopted.

The brass bar made by Troughton of London for the Coast and Geodetic Survey and brought to this country by Hassler in 1813, was adopted as the standard of length. This bar was 82 inches long, and the standard yard selected was the one comprised between the twenty-seventh and the sixty-third inch marks. This was believed equal to the English standard yard at 62° Fahrenheit, although direct comparison with that standard had not been made.

The avoirdupois pound was derived from the troy pound of the mint. For this purpose, the avoirdupois pound was assumed to be 7000/5760 pounds troy.

The units of capacity selected were closer than any other to the average in use at that time in the United States. They were the wine gallon of 231 cubic inches and the Winchester bushel of 2,150.42 cubic inches.

After the adoption of the units referred to above, the work of constructing the weights and measures for the customhouses was begun in earnest. Hassler made progress reports to the Secretary of the Treasury over a period of several years. His letters are full of interesting statements about the work in general, and the difficulties encountered in the performance of so large and responsible a task are clearly shown.

While Hassler and his assistants were working at feverish haste to complete the construction of the standards, a memorial was sent to Congress from businessmen of Philadelphia urging Congress to establish a standard of weights and measures. The memorial was referred to a committee of which Representative Horace Binny was chairman. Representative Binny reported from that committee on February 17, 1835. He reviewed previous action of Congress on this subject, and read extracts from Hassler's reports which he hoped would make Congress realize the confused state of affairs in commercial transactions. He offered the following resolution:

Resolved, That it is highly expedient that the Treasury Department should complete, with as little delay as practicable, the fabrication of standards of weights and measures, for the supply of the different customhouses of the United States, upon the principles set forth in the reports of the Secretary of the Treasury to the Senate, on March 3, 1831, and June 20, 1832.

Representative Binny had obtained several letters and progress reports of the work which Hassler had written to the Secretary of the Treasury. These were read and made a part of the records of Congress, together with the above resolution.

The Binny resolution was not adopted as offered, but in the following year there was adopted a Joint Resolution directing distribution of Standards to the States, as follows:

Joint Resolution of Congress, June 14, 1836.

Resolved 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 hereby is, directed to cause a complete set of all weights and measures adopted as standards and now either made or in progress of manufacture for the use of the several customhouses, and for other purposes, to be delivered to the governor of each State in the Union, or such person as he may appoint, for the use of the States, respectively, to the end that a uniform standard of weights and measures may be established throughout the United States.

The Joint Resolution of 1836 was supplemented in 1838 by legislation which directed the Secretary of the Treasury to furnish balances to the States. This provision was added as one of numerous amendments to an appropriation act, the original purpose of which was "to provide for the support of the Military Academy of the United States for the year 1838", as follows:

Public 53, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, July 7, 1838.

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Treasury cause to be made, under the superintendence of Mr. Hassler, one standard balance for each State, and when completed that he cause them to be delivered to the respective Governors for the use of the respective States.

Under this authority not one balance, but three balances were prepared for each State.

The Joint Resolution of 1836 and the law of 1838 were supplemented by two other Joint Resolutions, in 1866 and 1881, authorizing further distribution of standards, as follows:

Joint Resolution of Congress, July 27, 1866.

Be it resolved 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 furnish to each State, to be delivered to the governor thereof, one set of standard weights and measures of the metric system for the use of the States, respectively. Joint Resolution of Congress, March 3, 1881.

Resolved 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, directed to cause a complete set of all the weights and measures adopted as standards to be delivered to the governor of each State in the Union, for the use of agricultural colleges in the States, respectively, which have received a grant of lands from the United States, and also one set of the same for the use of the Smithsonian Institution: Provided, That the cost of each set shall not exceed two hundred dollars, and a sum sufficient to carry out the provisions of this resolution is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.

The practical effect of the distribution of standards and balances as authorized by the Joint Resolutions of 1836, 1866, and 1881, and the law of 1838 has been the adoption by States as State standards, of the standards so furnished. As a consequence there is uniformity of standards throughout the country as a result of Congressional action but without any broad and specific Congressional requirement to that effect.

In 1866 the Congress passed a law legalizing the use throughout the United States of the metric sys

tem of weights and measures and including tables of legal equivalents for metric units in terms of units of weight and measure customarily in use in the United States. This important statute is commonly referred to in weights and measures circles as the "Law of 1866"; its provisions are reported on page 10 under the citation, U. S. Code, 1946 Ed., Title 15, Ch. 6, Metric System.

The United States was one of the signatories to a treaty known as the "Metric Convention", signed in 1875, under the terms of which the International Bureau of Weights and Measures was created and its duties prescribed. A translation of the convention, and of appendix No. 1 containing the regulations appended thereto, as amended, follows:

Metric Convention: Signed at Paris, May 20, 1875; ratification advised by the Senate, May 15, 1878; ratified by the President, May 28, 1878; ratifications exchanged, August 2, 1878; proclaimed, September 27, 1878. As amended by the convention signed at Sevres, October 6, 1921; ratification advised by the Senate, January 5, 1923; ratified by the President, September 19, 1923; ratification of the United States, deposited with the Government of the French Republic, October 24, 1923; proclaimed, October 27, 1923.

His Excellency the President of the United States of America, His Majesty the Emperor of Germany, His Majesty the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, His Majesty the King of the Belgians, His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, His Excellency the President of the Argentine Confederation, His Majesty the King of Denmark, His Majesty the King of Spain, His Excellency the President of the French Republic, His Majesty the King of Italy, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Peru, His Majesty the King of Portugal and the Argarves, His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, His Majesty the King of Sweden and Norway, His Excellency the President of the Swiss Confederation, His Majesty the Emperor of the Ottomans, and His Excellency the President of the Republic of Venezuela, desiring international uniformity and precision in standards of weight and measure, have resolved to conclude a convention to this effect, and have named as their plenipotentiaries the following:

Who, after having exhibited their full powers, which were found to be in good and due form, have agreed upon the following articles:

Article 1. The high contracting parties engage to estab lish and maintain, at their common expense, a scientific and permanent international bureau of weights and measures, the location of which shall be at Paris.

Art. 2. The French Government shall take all the necessary measures to facilitate the purchase, or, if expedient, the construction, of a building which shall be especially devoted to this purpose, subject to the conditions stated in the regulations which are subjoined to this convention.

Art. 3. The operation of the international bureau shall be under the exclusive direction and supervision of an international committee of weights and measures, which latter shall be under the control of a general conference for weights and measures, to be composed of the delegates of all the contracting Governments.

Art. 4. The general conference for weights and measures shall be presided over by the president for the time being of the Paris Academy of Sciences.

Art. 5. The organization of the bureau, as well as the formation and the powers of the international committee, and of the general conference for weights and measures, are established by the regulations subjoined to this convention.

Art. 6. The international bureau of weights and measures shall be charged with the following duties:

First. All comparisons and verifications of the new prototypes of the meter and kilogram.

Second. The custody of the international prototypes. Third. The periodical comparison of the national standards with the international prototypes and with their test copies, as well as comparisons of the standard thermometers.

Fourth. The comparison of the prototypes with the fundamental standards of nonmetrical weights and measures used in different countries for scientific purposes.

Fifth. The sealing and comparison of geodesic measuring

bars.

Sixth. The comparison of standards and scales of precision, the verification of which may be requested by governments or by scientific societies, or even by constructors or men of science. Art. 7. After the committee shall have proceeded with the work of coordinating the measures relative to electric units and when the general conference shall have so decided by a unanimous vote, the bureau will have charge of the establishment and keeping of the standards of the electric units and their test copies and also of comparing with those standards, the national or other standards of precision.

The bureau is also charged with the duty of making the determinations relative to physical constants, a more accurate knowledge of which may be useful in increasing precision and further insuring uniformity in the provinces to which the above-mentioned units belong (article 6 and first paragraph of article 7).

It is finally charged with the duty of coordinating similar determinations effected in other institutions.

Art. 8. The international prototypes and standards and also their test copies shall be deposited in the bureau; access to the deposit shall be solely reserved for the international committee.

Art. 9. The entire expense of the construction and outfit of the international bureau of weights and measures, together with the annual cost of its maintenance and the expenses of the committee, shall be defrayed by contributions from the contracting states, the amount of which shall be computed in proportion to the actual population of each.

Art. 10. The amounts representing the contributions of each of the contracting States shall be paid at the beginning of each year, through the ministry of foreign affairs of France, into the Caisse de dépôts et consignations at Paris, whence they may be drawn as occasion may require, upon the order of the director of the bureau.

Art. 11. Those Governments which may take advantage of the privilege, open to every State, of acceding to this convention shall be required to pay a contribution, the amount of which shall be fixed by the committee on the basis established in article 9, and which shall be devoted to the improvement of the scientific apparatus of the bureau.

Art. 12. The high contracting parties reserve to themselves the power of introducing into the present convention, by common consent, any modifications the propriety of which may have been shown by experience.

Art. 13. At the expiration of twelve years this convention may be abrogated by any one of the high contracting parties, so far as it is concerned.

Any Government which may avail itself of the right of terminating this convention, so far as it is concerned, shall be required to give notice of its intentions one year in advance, and by so doing shall renounce all rights of joint ownership in the international prototypes and in the bureau.

Appendix No. 1, Regulations.

Article 1. The international bureau of weights and measures shall be established in a special building, possessing all the necessary safeguards of stillness and stability.

It shall comprise, in addition to the vault, which shall be devoted to the safe-keeping of the prototypes, rooms for mounting the comparators and balances; a laboratory, a library, a room for the archives, workrooms for the employés, and lodg. ings for the watchmen and attendants.

Art. 2. It shall be the duty of the international committee to acquire and fit up the aforesaid building and to set in operation the work for which it was designed.

In case of the committee's inability to obtain a suitable

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »