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HQ 959919

January 26, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 959919 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 4202.32.1000

Mr. Henry Seamon
A & L Seamon, Inc.
375 Greenleaf Street
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18102

RE: Modification of New York Ruling Letter A87570; Tariff Classification of a Wallet; Descriptions as to Composition of Leather Products; 15 U.S.C. 1125; 16 CFR Part 24

Dear Mr. Seamon:

This is in response to your letter dated October 29, 1996, requesting the modification of New York Ruling Letter (NY) A87570, dated October 10, 1996, issued on your behalf to Barthco Trade Consultants, Inc., regarding the tariff classification of a small handbag or wallet under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample was submitted to this office for examination. We have determined that NY A87570 should be modified with respect to style number LP 1500. The classification of style numbers LP 50, LP 1600, and 4270 remain unchanged. Therefore, this ruling modifies NY A87570.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed modification of NY A87570, was published on December 10, 1997, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 31, Number 50.


Style number LP 1500 resembles a small handbag or wallet having an outer surface of an expanded vinyl with a thin coat of polyurethane and foam with a cotton fabric backing. The article
has two folds with a leather flap and a snap closure. The exterior surface of the polyurethane coat is calendered to give it the appearance of a pebble grain. The exterior front of the item has one open slot pocket and a zippered change pocket. The edging appears to be composed of a very thin, plastic-coated leather material.

The interior of the article is constructed of both thin gauge leather and fabric components, but is embossed with a mark which reads "GENUINE LEATHER," a statement tending to represent that the entire article is composed of leather when, actually, it is not. The interior of the item also features seven credit card slots, a billfold slot, a utility slot, and a slot for a checkbook. There is a separate checkbook cover with a textile fabric interior and an outer surface matching the calendered plastics material of the article's exterior surface.


1) Whether the article is classified in subheading 4202.22, HTSUS, which provides for handbags; or in subheading 4202.32, HTSUS, which provides for articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag.

2) Whether the article is properly marked as to the extent of its leather composition.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

In NY A87570, Customs classified the article in subheading 4202.22.1500, HTSUSA which provides for "Handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle: With outer
surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic." You claim that the subject merchandise is properly classified in subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, which provides for "Articles of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic: Of reinforced or laminated plastics."

The term "wallet" is not defined in the HTSUS, nor in the applicable EN to heading 4202. However, we note the following definitions of the term "wallet" from lexicographic sources:

Essential Terms of Fashion: A Collection of Definitions, Charlotte M. Calasibetts, Fairchild Publications, 1986: an item used to carry paper money, credit cards, photographs and sometimes with a change purse or space for a check book or pad.

The Fashion Dictionary, Mary Brooks Picken, Funk & Wagnalls, 1973: 1. Flat purse or pocketbook, for carrying either paper money or coins.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Meriam Co., 1977: 1. A bag for carrying miscellaneous articles while traveling; 2A. billfold B. a pocketbook with compartments for change, photographs, cards, and keys.

Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1988: 1. [Archaic] a knapsack; 2. A flat pocketbook, as of leather, with compartments for paper money, cards, etc.; billfold.

The term "handbag" has been defined as follows:

Essential Terms of Fashion: A Collection of Definitions: Accessory carried primarily by women and girls to hold such items as money, credit cards, and cosmetics.

The Fashion Dictionary: Soft or rigid bag carried in hand or on arm. Size, shape, handle, etc., depend on fashion. Used by women as container for money and pocket-sized accessories.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary: 1. Traveling bag; 2. A woman's bag held in the hand or hung from a shoulder strap and used for carrying small personal articles and money.

Webster's New World Dictionary: A bag, usually of leather or cloth, held in the hand or hung by a strap from the arm or shoulder and used, by women, to carry money, keys, and personal effects.

A review of the above-cited definitions of "handbag" reveals that each lexicographic source describes a bag used by women which is designed to carry money, credit cards, keys, and small or pocket-sized personal effects (e.g., a hairbrush, cosmetics, etc.). In HQ 957632, dated March 24, 1995, this office noted that "the determinative feature of a handbag is its ability to hold several objects not associated with a wallet." In this case, the subject article is fitted to hold objects associated with a wallet. The item is flat and possesses slots and pockets to hold credit cards, identification cards, paper currency and coins. In addition, the article is of a size suitable for carrying within a handbag. The interior slots, the open slit exterior pocket, and the zippered exterior pocket do not possess sufficient capacity to hold small personal effects that are typically carried in a handbag. Therefore, the merchandise at issue meets the various descriptions of a wallet set forth above, and is classified in subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA.

While mindful that the article examined by this office is a sample, we note with respect to the wallet's interior mark which reads "GENUINE LEATHER" that false descriptions of goods are forbidden by 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1)(B), which in pertinent part states:

(a)(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods... uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any...false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which--

(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities... of his or her or another person's goods...
shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

We also note that the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published "Guides for Select Leather and Imitation Leather Products," 16 CFR Part 24, in the Federal Register, Volume 61, Number 193, dated October 3, 1996. The "Guides" are
applicable to the manufacture, sale, distribution, marketing, or advertising of all kinds or types of leather or simulated-leather articles (including, but not limited to, wallets, billfolds, key cases, handbags, shoulder bags, purses, pocketbooks, etc.), and represent interpretations of laws administered by the FTC for the guidance of the public in conducting its affairs legally. Regarding deception as to an article's composition, 16 CFR Part 24.2 states, in pertinent part:

It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent...the composition of any industry product or part thereof. It is unfair or deceptive to use the unqualified term "leather" or other unqualified terms suggestive of leather to describe industry products unless the industry product so described is composed in all substantial parts of leather....

(e) A misrepresentation should not be made...that an industry product is made wholly of a particular composition. A representation as to the composition of a particular part of a product should clearly indicate the part to which the representation applies....

In light of the above, we suggest that the subject article be marked along the following lines: "INTERIOR OF LEATHER, BALANCE OF MAN-MADE MATERIALS" if, indeed, the interior is composed of 100 percent leather.


Style number LP 1500 is properly classified in subheading 4202.32.1000, HTSUSA, as an article of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag with outer surface of sheeting of plastic: of reinforced or laminated plastics. The general column one rate of duty is 12.1 cents/kilogram plus 4.6 percent ad valorem.

NY A87570, issued October 10, 1996, is hereby modified.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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