CLA-2 CO:R:G 085851 STB
Mr. Jeffrey M. Davies
North American Sales Manager
20, Rue Larrey 75005 Paris
Remanences S.A. AU Capital De 1.064.100 F
RC Paris 61 B 322
RE: Lead Toy Soldiers
Dear Mr. Davies:
Your letters of September 12, 1989 and February 2, 1990
concern the tariff classification of miniature lead soldiers made
in France. Descriptive literature and a sample were submitted
to our office after the initial ruling request.
The subject merchandise consists of a product line of over
700 different items of hand painted and hand cast lead alloy
miniatures. Most of the figures represent anonymous soldiers
from various periods. However, the line also includes
representations of famous individuals, both military and
civilian, such as Napoleon and Abraham Lincoln. The sample
submitted is a representation of a specific historical figure,
the military officer Saint Etienne Du Mont. The figure stands
atop a small wooden stand which bears his name and he is holding
a flag that has been decorated with elaborate and colorful art
work. A military uniform is painted on the figure and a sword
is attached to the side. The figure measures approximately
2-3/4 inches from the bottom of the stand to the top of the head.
When the flag is included, the item measures approximately 6
inches from the bottom of the stand to the top of the flagpole.
According to your letter of February 2, 1990, the figures are the
result of "painstaking" assembly and are completely handmade
through every step in the manufacturing process, from dropcasting
the individual components of a given figure, through soldering
these onto the main body portion, to hand painting each of the
assembled figures with "maximum attention paid to historical
The company that manufactures these miniatures, C.B.G.
Mignot, was founded in Paris in 1785. You state in your letter
that your company is the "world's oldest manufacturer in
continuous production of hand-cast, hand-painted toy soldiers and
miniatures" and that most of the molds you use in the hand cast
figures were engraved between 1870 and 1910. You describe the
marketing of these items as follows:
In France, our soldiers and civilian figurines
tend to be marketed in one of two ways. Either they are
sold in traditional, often long-established, hobby shops
(ex. Le Plat d'Etain, Au Nain Bleu) and older figures
frequently turn up in antique stores and auction houses
(Druot, Phillips). Or they may be sold to the company's
long list of faithful customers, some of whom have been
collecting from father to son for several generations,
who order and receive their soldiers by mail.
The Mignot company's figurines are featured in
several museums throughout France including one near
the Riviera, one in the Loire Valey [sic] town of
Sumur, and at the Louvre, this in addition to
numerous private collections (one of the most famous
being that belonging to Malcolm Forbes).
At the request of our office, you submitted additional
information by facsimile transmission dated May 28, 1990.
According to this information, the average wholesale price of the
figures, in U.S. currency, is from $9.30 to $17.60 per figure,
depending on the complexity of the item. Individual horse-
mounted figures average $16.00. Flag bearing soldiers, such as
the sample submitted, sell for approximately $35.80. Your
dioramas (multi-figure displays) start at $87.00 and range up to
over $1,400.00 for the most ornate and intricate presentations.
You further state that the figures are traditionally sold 1, 4 or
12 to a box for foot soldiers and civilian miniatures and 1 or 5
to a box for horse-mounted figures.
What is the proper classification of these figures?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the
United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules
of Interpretation (GRI's). According to GRI 1, the primary
consideration in determining whether merchandise should be
classified in a particular heading should be given to the
language of the heading and any relevant chapter or section
notes, and provided such headings or notes do not otherwise
require, according to the remaining GRI's, taken in order. In
this case, the subject merchandise can be classified by reference
to GRI 1. It is our determination that any figures which are not
over 100 years of age are properly classifiable under subheading
9503.90.60 as "other toys." Any figures which are over 100 years
of age are properly classifiable under subheading 9706.00.00.60
as "other antiques."
In your various letters, you have requested that this
merchandise be classified under subheading 9705.00.00.90, HTSUSA,
as "collections and collector's pieces of...historical interest."
This request was supported in separate correspondence by
Ms. Francoise Abriou of the French Trade Commission. In support
of this claim you state the following:
While these may have once been considered toys
100, or even 200, years ago, such is clearly no longer
the case. Current prices alone, due to the skilled
labor intensive nature of the product, have removed them
from that category. Today, their audience is definitely
not children but rather one of ardent collectors,
generally 40 years of age and older.
You also note that they appear in museums, as mentioned above,
and that they often sell at auction houses for prices much in
excess of your current pricing.
Your classification request was given much consideration.
It is clear, however, from the Explanatory Notes, the official
interpretation of HTSUSA at the international level, that
Heading 9705 is not the proper heading for classification of
these items. The relevant Explanatory Notes state that items of
historical interest as well as the other items that fall under
chapter 97.05 "are very often of little intrinsic value but
derive their interest from their rarity, their grouping or their
presentation." The Explanatory Notes also describe the relevant
items as follows:
(B) Collections and collectors' pieces of historical,
ethnographic, palaeontological or archaeological interest,
(1) Articles being the material remains of human activity
suitable for the study of the activities of earlier
generations, such as: mummies, sarcophagi, weapons,
objects of worship, articles of apparel, articles which
have belonged to famous persons.
(2) Articles having a bearing on the study of the
activities, manners, customs and characteristics of
contemporary primitive peoples, for example, tools,
weapons or objects of worship.
(3) Geological specimens for the study of fossils (extinct
organisms which have left their remains or imprints in
geological strata), whether animal or vegetable.
Finally, in a note that applies to all of chapter 97.05, the
Explanatory Notes state that:
Goods produced as a commercial undertaking to
commemorate, celebrate, illustrate or depict an event or
any other matter, whether or not production is limited in
quantity or circulation, do not fall in this heading as
collectors' pieces of historical or numismatic interest
unless the goods themselves have subsequently attained that
interest by reason of their age or rarity.
It is clear from the above Explanatory Notes that the phrase
"historical...interest" as specified in chapter 9705 is meant to
include items that were in use during a specific historical
period and are valuable for that reason, i.e. an actual uniform
worn by a soldier during the Napoleonic wars, a cannon used
during the United States Revolutionary war, etc. Miniature
soldiers produced in 1990 to replicate soldiers from 1785 do not
meet this description. In fact, it seems that such items are
specifically excluded from chapter 9705 by the above note which
excludes items produced to commemorate, celebrate, illustrate or
depict an event.
As mentioned above, we believe that the proper
classification for these items is under subheading 9503.90.60,
HTSUSA, the provision for Other toys (except models), not having
a spring mechanism. Even if the individuals interested in these
figures are primarily adults, as you contend, such a fact will
not take the merchandise out of the toy classification. The
General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 95 state that "This Chapter
covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of
children or adults."(Emphasis added.)
The word "amusement" or "amuse" is subject to a broad
definition. A host of lexicographic authorities, including
various editions of Webster's and Random House, define "amuse" as
"holding the attention of (someone) agreeably," or "to entertain
or divert in a pleasant or cheerful manner." If these figures
are used as collectibles, and/or for building large displays, by
children or adults, they will be providing agreeable amusement as
is provided for in the toy classification. Additionally, prior
research has shown that these type of figures are often purchased
by consumers to play sophisticated war games and to conduct
specific battle reenactments. This too is amusement of the type
provided for in the toy classification.
According to the Explanatory Notes at page 1588, subheading
9503.90, HTSUSA, applies inter alia to "Tin soldiers and the
like, and toy armaments." The phrase "and the like" illustrates
that most types of small soldier figures should normally be
classified in this subheading.
The toy classification will apply to figures that represent
specific individuals as well as those that represent annonymous
soldiers, etc. The figures that represent and appear similar to
actual historical military commanders are likely to be used in
wargames and battle reenactments and will become integral parts
of collections. Those figures that represent civilian historical
figures are also likely to become integral elements of
collections and may be used with dioramas and displays.
Consideration was given to the possibility of classifying the
figures that represent actual historical figures as dolls, under
heading 9502, HTSUSA. The Explanatory Notes for this chapter,
however, state the following:
Dolls are usually made of rubber, plastics, textile
materials, wax, ceramics, wood, paperboard, papier mache or
combinations of these materials. They may be jointed and
contain mechanisms which permit limb, head or eye movements
as well as reproductions of the human voice, etc. They may
also be dressed.
Although the above requirements are not stated in such a way as
to be mandatory for the doll classification, they do provide
guidelines. The figures at issue do not meet these guidelines;
the "other toy" classification applies accurately enough to
these figures that there is no reason to attempt to make any of
them fit into the doll classification.
Since your company has been manufacturing these figures
since 1785, we assume that there is a possibility of the
importation of figures that exceed 100 years of age. If that
occurs, those figures will be entitled to classification under
subheading 9706.00.00.60, HTSUSA, as Antiques of an age exceeding
one hundred years, other.
The line of figures at issue, that do not exceed 100 years
of age, are properly classifiable under subheading 9503.90.60,
HTSUSA, as Other toys (except models), not having a spring
mechanism, dutiable at a rate of 6.8%, ad valorem. The figures
that exceed 100 years of age are properly classifiable under
subheading 9706.00.00.60, HTSUSA, as Antiques of an age exceeding
100 years, other, and entitled to duty-free treatment.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division