Mr. von Holleben to Mr. Hay.

Mr. Secretary of State:

It is provided by the act making appropriations for the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900, which act was signed on the 1st instant by the President of the United States, that “the Secretary of Agriculture, whenever he has reason to believe that articles are being imported from foreign countries which are dangerous to the health of the people of the United States, shall make [Page 306] a request upon the Secretary of the Treasury for samples from original packages of such articles for inspection and analysis, and the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to open such original packages and deliver specimens to the Secretary of Agriculture for the purpose mentioned, giving notice to the owner or consignee of such articles, who may be present and have the right to introduce testimony, and the Secretary of the Treasury shall refuse delivery to the consignee of any goods which the Secretary of Agriculture reports to him to have been inspected and analyzed and found to be dangerous to health.”

As this measure, according to statements published in the press, extends to toys imported from Germany, I have the honor, in pursuance of instructions received from my Government, to beg your excellency kindly to inform me whether there are any legal provisions in the United States relative to the use of paint on toys, and, if so, what the nature of those provisions is.

As your excellency may perhaps be aware, the Imperial Government, as long ago as 1887, made provision, by a law bearing date of July 5 of that year, for the countries embraced in the German Empire, for the establishment of permanent rules for the toy industry, in default of a uniform opinion, even among experts, with regard to what was to be considered permissible or prohibited.

That law was published in the official journal of the Empire (Reichsgezetzblatt, No. 23, of July 9, 1887.

I have the honor herewith to inclose a circular relative to this matter, issued by the chamber of commerce and manufactures of Sonneberg, together with an inclosure containing the main provisions of said law, for your excellency’s information.

If there are no such positive provisions in the United States, I will thank your excellency for a statement whether these positive restrictions, which have been adopted in Germany as regards the use of paint on toys, as they appear from the aforesaid law, are considered sufficient by the United States Government.

I further desire to request your excellency to inform me of the result of any analyses that may have been made by the Department of Agriculture of toys imported from Germany.

Finally, it would be of interest to the Imperial Government to know what provisions have been adopted by the Federal Government and the governments of the individual States relative to the adulteration of articles of food and drink, which are referred to in the provision in question of the appropriation bill.

As regards the measures which have been adopted on this subject in the German Empire and the Federated States, and also as regards the provisions whereby inspection of alimentary substances in the Empire is secured, I would refer to the note of the foreign office at Berlin of March 18, 1887, to Mr. Edwin F. Uhl, at that time United States ambassador.

Accept, etc.,

[Inclosure in Mr. von Holleben’s note of March 10, 1899.]

The law concerning the use of paints injurious to health, in the manufacture of articles of food and those for use among which our toys are included (by toys, in the meaning of the law, we are to understand everything that is included under the head of Sonneberg playthings, such as toys of all kinds, dolls, figures, and especially tricks) will take effect May 1, 1888.

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In order to furnish information to interested parties concerning the provisions of this law, and to protect them from injury, the chamber of commerce and manufactures deems it to be its duty to take the necessary steps without further delay.

Concerning the use of paints which, according to the law (sections 1, 2, and 4) are prohibited and permitted in the manufacture of toys, we give the following statement, which has been prepared by an expert:

According to sections 12 and 13 any person is liable to a fine not exceeding 50 marks, or to imprisonment, who makes, offers for sale, or sells toys prepared with paints the use of which is prohibited. At the same time the court may order the confiscation of the toys in question.

In the case of aggravated offenses, the delinquent renders himself liable to much more severe penalties, viz, imprisonment, loss of civil rights, etc., as provided in the law of May 14, 1879.

We call the attention of all manufacturers, embossers, painters, workers, and dealers to the serious consequences of a violation of these legal provisions.

If, for instance, white lead should be used for painting toys, punishment might be inflicted for one and the same article in ten and more different places in Germany; the entire stock would be confiscated, and the aggregate of penalty and loss would finally come upon the maker of the article.

We consequently consider it absolutely necessary that all toys manufactured hereafter be painted only with such paints as the law allows, for such toys will, with few exceptions, not be offered for sale until after May 1, 1888.

We therefore warn all persons not to use old paints which they may have on hand, provided that they do not meet the requirements of the law for painting toys, and not even to mix them with new paints, and we advise, when paints are purchased in future, that the seller be required to furnish a guaranty that the paints are allowed by the law of July 5, 1887, to be used for painting toys.

Finally we recommend to all merchants to require, both in their orders and also by word of mouth, with emphatic reference to the provisions of the law that none but paints which are allowed by law shall be used.

The object of the chamber of commerce and manufactures in this matter is merely to facilitate the fulfillment of the requirements of the law and to protect our manufacturers from loss.

In carrying out this purpose it hopes for general support.

Otto Dressel, Sr.,
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures.

A. Meurer,
Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures.

Section 1. Of colors, the use of which is prohibited in painting toys.

No colors (with certain exceptions) maybe used in the manufacture of toys which contain antimony, arsenic, barium, lead, cadmium, chrome, quicksilver, uranium, zinc, tin, gamboge gum, coraline, picric acid.

Exceptions.—Of colors which are allowed to be used in painting toys, with certain restrictions, it is allowable to use:

Oxide of lead in varnish—i. e., all varnishes which are produced with the aid of litharge.

Chromate of lead (separate or in combination with sulphate of lead) only as an oil or lacquer paint, or as a coating of lacquer or varnish. Here belong the various kinds of chrome yellow, chrome orange, and chrome red, and also mixtures of chrome yellow with Berlin or Paris blue as they are found in commerce, for instance, as green cinnabar.

White lead (Krem’s white lead) only as a component part of articles made of wax cast in a mold, but with the proviso that the white lead shall not exceed, in weight 1 part in 100 parts of the entire mass. The use of white lead in any other way is strictly prohibited.

Combinations of zinc that are insoluble in water. Zinc white, lithopone, chromate of zinc, mixtures of chromate of zinc and paris blue, as they are met with in commerce, under the name of victoria green, with an addition of chromic oxide and baryta (heavy spar).

In the case of india rubber, combinations of zinc that are insoluble in water may be used only for coloring the mass of rubber, or when they are used as oil or lacquer colors, or with a coating of lacquer or varnish.

All colors burnt into glazing or enamel. For these purposes combinations of arsenic, such as white arsenic, arsenical acid, orpiment and realgar may be used. (For the eyes of dolls and animals and for dolls’ trappings.)

Sulphate of barium, as it is met with in commerce, or blanc fixe, both separate and mixed with other colors.

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Baryta colors that are free from carbonate of barium. The substances that are chiefly considered here are yellow and orange coloring matters which are made by the aid of tar coloring matters; yellow, orange, red, and green colors that foam up when mixed with strong vinegar are to be regarded with suspicion.

Chromic oxide is known in commerce as chrome green and Guignet’s green.

Copper, tin, zinc, and their alloys as metallic colors. Among these are included: Dutch gold and Dutch silver, bronze color and brocade colors of all kinds.

Cinnabar. N. B.—Manufacturers must be on their guard against the so-called imitation of cinnabar, or substitute for cinnabar. The color which is met with in commerce contains a great deal of lead, and is prohibited.

Oxide of tin. This substance is not used by itself as a color; it is, however, contained in all colors in the manufacture of which it has been used; for instance, in fine lake.

Sulphuret of tin as mosaic gold. This substance is only of exceptional importance in the toy industry.

Sec. II. Wall papers, material used in the manufacture of furniture, carpets, material for hangings or drapery (dolls’ wearing apparel, babyhouses, dolls’ kitchens, stores where dolls’ goods are sold). Masks, wax candles and artificial leaves, flowers and fruits may, even when they are to be used in the manufacture of toys or separately, be painted with any color that may be thought desirable, with the single exception of arsenious colors, such as Schweinfurt green, Scheele’s green, Vienna green, Neuwied green, yellow sulphuret of arsenic, or tersulphide of arsenic. Furthermore, in these substances arsenic may be contained as a mordant, or means of fixing other colors; it must then, however, not be in a form that is soluble in water, or in such a quantity that more than 2 milligrams of arsenic are to be found in 100 square centimeters of material.

The last restrictions are of scarcely any practical importance to the toy industry.

Sec. III. The same colors which are allowed in the manufacture of toys may also be used in making paper for pictures, picture books, and water colors for children. Such water colors may be sold as free from poison.

Sec. IV. Special care must be taken in manufacturing toys not to use white lead, or Krem’s white lead, red lead, chromate of baryta, Naples yellow, Cassel yellow, mineral yellow, verdigris, mountain blue, Steinbuhl yellow, Schweinfurt, Neuwied, and similar greens, and Casselmann’s green.

The following may be used without restriction:

Cinnabar, zinc white, lithopone, all metallic colors, all kinds of terreous colors, such as ocher of various hues, of aniline colors, all blues, violet coloring matters, all ponceaus, all orange coloring matters, and also methyl green, brilliant green, malachite green, chrysoidin, naphthyl yellow, Martin’s yellow, eosin, phloxin, safranin, erythrosin, fuchsin, phenyl brown, analin black.

  • Otto Dressel, Sr.,
    President of the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures.
  • A. Meurer,
    Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures.