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HQ 085851

June 1, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:G 085851 STB


TARIFF NO.: 9503.90.60, 9706.00.00.60

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 detail."

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?


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, for example:

(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

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