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HQ 088838

October 7, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 088838 NLP


TARIFF NO.: 6913.90.50

Mr. Louis Shoichet
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson
One Astor Plaza
1515 Broadway, 43rd Floor
New York, NY 10036

RE: Ceramic beer steins; Heading 6912; Heading 6913; other ornamental articles

Dear Mr. Shoichet:

This ruling is in response to your letter dated January 28, 1991, requesting the classification of ceramic beer steins under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample was submitted for our examination. As you requested, the sample will be returned to you along with this ruling.


The article at issue is a ceramic beer stein called the "Sporting Dog Stein". Your submission does not state the exact composition of the beer stein, only that it is made of ceramic. For the purposes of this ruling, we will presume that the stein is made up of a ceramic other than porcelain or china. The stein measures approximately 9-1/2 inches in height and 4-1/2 inches in diameter at its widest point. The outer surface of the stein is decorated in high relief with sculptured raised representations of several breeds of sporting dogs, who are portrayed in a variety of hunting positions. Below each raised representation appears the name of the pertinent breed of sporting dog. The lid is approximately 3-1/2 inches in diameter and is composed of pewter with a ceramic insert. The ceramic insert is 3 inches in diameter and in its center is the sculptured figure of a labrador retriever, 1-1/4 inches in length and 1-1/2 inches in height. The rest of the ceramic insert depicts a hunter and his two dogs hunting a bird. This stein is capable of holding approximately 30-35 fluid ounces.

The instant stein is marketed and sold as a collectible item through the Avon gift catalog. The retail price of the stein is $55.00. The marketing literature characterizes the stein as a collectible item to be bought and sold by stein collectors. The Sporting Dog Stein will be numbered, dated and bear the Avon Collectibles logo. In addition, you state that the manufacturer of the instant stein, Ceramarte, is widely known throughout the industry as a producer of collectible steins.


Is the Sporting Dog Stein classifiable in 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, or in subheading 6913.90.50, HTSUSA, which provides for other ornamental ceramic articles, other, other.


The classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs), 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, HTSUSA, provides for ceramic tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, other than of porcelain or china. The Explanatory Notes (ENs) for the HTS, although not dispositive, are to be looked to for the proper interpretation of the HTS. EN(A) to Heading 6912, page 922, provides that tableware includes "tea or coffee services, plates, soup tureens, salad bowls, dishes and trays of all kinds, coffee- pots, teapots, sugar bowls, beer mugs, cups, sauce-boats, fruit bowls, cruets, salt cellars, mustard pots, egg-cups, teapot stands, table mats, knife rests, spoons and serviette rings."

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 084122, January 9, 1990, Customs dealt with the classification of sculptured porcelain molds. This case involved the interpretation of Heading 6911, which provides for tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and toilet articles, of porcelain and china, and Heading 6913. HRL 084122 stated that Heading 6911, HTSUSA, is a use provision. U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a) states the following:
a tariff classification controlled by use (other than actual use) is to be determined in accordance with the use in the United States at, or immediately prior to, the date of importation, of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong, and the controlling use is the principal use.

According to HRL 084122, in order for an article to be classified within Heading 6911, HTSUSA, it must be principally used as tableware or kitchenware.

The rule of in pari materia is pertinent in the instant case. This rule provides that where two provisions are essentially the same, they are to be construed in essentially the same manner. Heading 6911, HTSUSA, and Heading 6912, HTSUSA, are essentially the same provisions, the only difference being that Heading 6911, HTSUSA, covers tableware, kitchenware, etc..., made of porcelain or china, while Heading 6912, HTSUSA covers the same article made of other than porcelain or china. As a result, since Heading 6911, HTSUSA, is considered a use provision, Heading 6912, HTSUSA, would also be considered a use provision. Therefore, for the instant stein to be classified in Heading 6912, HTSUSA, its principal use would have to be as tableware and kitchenware. The stein in question is principally used for ornamenting or decorating and not as tableware. Therefore, it is excluded from classification as tableware within Heading 6912, HTSUSA.

Heading 6913, HTSUSA, provides for statuettes and other ornamental ceramic articles. The EN to Heading 6913, HTSUSA, state that this heading covers a wide range of ceramic articles of the type designed essentially for the interior decoration of homes, offices..., etc. Part B of the EN to Heading 6913, HTSUSA, page 923, states the following:

(B) Tableware and other domestic articles only if the usefulness of the articles is clearly subordinate to their ornamental character, for example, trays molded 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 69.11 or 69.12 rather than in this heading.

Applying Part B of the EN to Heading 6913, we find that an examination of the beer stein and the evidence presented support a conclusion that the subject stein does not appear to be designed essentially to serve a useful purpose and its elaborate
decoration is not secondary to its usefulness. The stein will be marketed and sold as a collectible in the Avon gift catalog. In addition, frequent use and cleaning would erode the high relief decorations on the stein.

Furthermore, a stein is defined as "a usually one-pint mug, especially for beer." Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary (1984). The instant stein's larger capacity does not suggest that it is intended to hold larger quantities of beer, but that it is intended to be used as a decorative article. Moreover, the large size of the stein makes it unwieldy and in order to drink from the stein it is necessary to hold it filled with beer nearly perpendicular to one's mouth.

The classification of decorated ceramic beer steins has been dealt with in G. Heileman Brewing Co. v. United States, Slip Op. 90-87 (Sept. 6, 1990). The issue in that case was whether the imported ceramic steins were classifiable as mugs or other steins in item 533.30, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), or as art and ornamental articles in item 534.87, TSUS. The court pointed out that, while it was possible to drink out of the mugs, since they were clumsy to hold and repeated washings would obliterate the colors and logo on the steins, their utilitarian use was limited. Moreover, the steins were highly decorated and were larger than the typical mugs or steins used to serve beer. In addition, the court found that the steins were purchased primarily by breweriana collectors for use as collectibles. Therefore, it was concluded that because of their size, composition and decoration these steins were ornamental articles, rather than articles chiefly intended for regular use as household articles.

Congress has indicated that earlier tariff rulings must not be disregarded in applying the HTSUSA. The conference report to the 1988 Omnibus Trade Bill, states that "on a case-by-case basis prior decisions should be considered instructive in interpreting the HTS[USA], particularly where the nomenclature previously interpreted in those decisions remains unchanged and no dissimilar interpretation is required by the text of the HTS[USA]." H. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2D Sess. 548, 550 (1988). Since the subject nomenclature in the TSUS and HTSUSA are essentially the same and the articles at issue in the Heileman case and the instant case are essentially the same, we find that Heileman lends further support to our conclusion that the instant stein is an ornamental article classified in Heading 6913, HTSUSA.


The Sporting Dog Stein is classified in subheading 6913.90.50, HTSUSA, which provides for other ornamental ceramic articles, other, other.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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