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HQ 087732

November 20, 1990

CLA-2:CO:R:C:G 087732 SR


TARIFF NO.: 6912.00.41

Mr. Louis S. Shoichet
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson
One Whitehall Street
New York, N.Y. 10004

RE: Beer Stein

Dear Mr. Shoichet:

This is in reference to your letter dated July 23, 1990, requesting the tariff classification of a beer stein under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample produced in Brazil was provided.


The merchandise at issue is a ceramic beer stein that is decorated in a military motif. The stein is stated to be other than of porcelain or china. It measures approximately 9 inches in height and 4 inches in diameter at the widest point. The mouth of the stein measures approximately 3 inches in diameter. The outer surface of the stein is decorated in a military motif in high relief with a pewter lid permanently attached. The words "Air Force", "Coast Guard", "Navy", "Army", and "Marines" are embossed along the base of the stein. The stein weighs 2 pounds when empty and 4 pounds when full.


What is the classification of the beer stein at issue?


The classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Heading 6912.00.41, HTSUSA, provides for ceramic tableware, other household articles, other than of porcelain or china, tableware and kitchenware, steins with permanently attached pewter lids. Subheading 6913.90.50, HTSUSA, provides for statuettes and other ornamental ceramic articles, other, other, other.

The Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The Explanatory Notes to heading 6912 state that this heading includes tableware such as tea or coffee services, beer mugs, cups . . . The Explanatory Notes to heading 6913 state as follows:

The heading covers:

(A) Articles which have no utility value but are wholly ornamental, and articles whose only usefulness is to support or contain other decorative articles or to add to their decorative effect.

(B) Tableware and other domestic articles only if the usefulness of the articles is clearly subordinate to their ornamental character, for example, trays moulded in relief so that their usefulness is virtually nullified, ornaments incorporating a purely incidental tray or container usable as a trinket dish or ashtray, miniatures having no genuine utility value, etc. In general, however, tableware and domestic utensils are designed essentially to serve useful purposes, and any decoration is usually secondary so as not to impair the usefulness. If, therefore, such decorated articles serve a useful purpose no less efficiently than their plainer counterparts, they are classified in heading 6911 or 6912 rather than in this heading.

The inquirer claims that the beer stein is classifiable as
an ornamental article. His reasons are stated as follows:

In the situation at hand, the stein will be marketed as a collectible, rather than a food service item, and is designed in a highly ornamental style at a sacrifice to its effectiveness as a drinking vessel. The military design raised in high relief and the eagle decoration on top of the pewter lid add weight to the stein, making it more difficult to lift, especially when filled with fluid. The stein is extremely awkward to drink from. To empty the stein of liquid, it is necessary to hold it nearly perpendicular to one's mouth. The operation is made more difficult by the stein's weight and the necessity of keeping the pewter lid open while drinking. As a practical matter it is virtually impossible to avoid spilling liquid on one's self in attempting to drink from the stein.

The stein at issue is of the same shape and design as most large beer steins. The inside of the stein is glazed to enable it to hold liquids. Once opened all the way, the pewter lid stays open on its own. The stein weighs only 4 pounds when filled with liquid; certainly the average marine would have no problem lifting the stein to his mouth. The stein is no more difficult to use than any other large stein with a lid. The usefulness of the stein would not be impaired by the military design.


The beer stein at issue is classifiable under subheading 6912.00.41, HTSUSA, which provides for ceramic tableware, other household articles, other than of porcelain or china, tableware and kitchenware, steins with permanently attached pewter lids. The rate of duty is 5.5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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