Posts Tagged ‘customs duty’

The Wine Cargo

Friday, October 20th, 2017

One foggy winter night, two Portuguese brigs sailed quietly into the port of London laden with barrels of a popular wine from Oporto.

The owner of the Hog’s Head Tavern, Duncan McPherson, had sent his spy Seabert to the quay to discover the price and duty on barrels of this special wine.

Duncan McPherson had hatched a plan to buy most of the wine stock and make a profit by undercutting his competitor Paddy O’Leary, owner of the more popular Wild Stag Inn – famous for its carousing.

Peering through the dusty window of the customs cabin at a log book illuminated by a flickering lamp, Seabert could barely see that 90 barrels had been offloaded from the Sereia and 60 barrels from the Douro.

Between the fingers of customs officer Wilberforce, in the duty column, Seabert observed that the brig Sereia had paid a total duty of 7 barrels plus 80 shillings.

Just as customs officer Wilberforce was closing the ledger, Seabert spotted on another line that the brig Douro had paid a total duty of 5 barrels, and had received 80 shillings in change.

That was all the information Seabert could scribble hurriedly on a wrinkled sheet paper before the customs officer blew out the lamplight and prepared to leave. Seabert slithered quietly into the darkness before officer Wilberforce left the customs cabin.

Seabert hoped the information would be sufficient for Duncan McPherson of the Hog’s Head Tavern to uncover the information needed, otherwise he wouldn’t get paid as McPherson was intolerant of failure.

What would you say was the price per barrel of this popular wine? And the duty per barrel?