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HQ 089401

September 4, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089401 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 7013.99.50

District Director of Customs
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island
San Pedro, CA 90731

RE: Classification of Suncatchers

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-90-04750, dated November 20, 1990, concerning your action in classifying and assessing duty on suncatchers imported from Korea.


Suncatchers are paintings on clear glass. The suncatcher is designed to be hung by a chain in a window, so that sunlight coming through the window shines through and illuminates the suncatcher.

An extensive process is involved in the creation of the suncatchers. First, artists at Joan Baker Designs design a scene and hand-paint the design on clear glass at their studio in San Clemente, California. The design is then sent to Korea where it is used by Korean craftspeople as an original for hand-painted copies. The clear, glass shapes upon which the paintings will be made are scored by hand with a glass cutter and broken out at the scores by hand. The Korean craftspeople copy the painting onto the clear glass shape. An outline of the scene is first created by free hand, using black latex paint from small squeeze bottles. Paint is next applied in the areas, using colors closest to the original design sent by Joan Baker Designs. No mechanical process is incorporated. The lead caming that constitutes the frame is then stretched by hand, shaped around the glass and soldered together by hand. Finally, a small chain is attached to the suncatcher so it can be hung in a window.


Whether the suncatcher is classifiable under subheading 9701.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for paintings executed entirely by hand?

If not, whether the suncatcher is classifiable under subheading 7016.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for glass smallware for mosaics and similar decorative purposes?

If not, whether the suncatcher is classifiable under subheading 7013.99.50, HTSUSA, which provides for glassware used for indoor decoration?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Counsel to the importer claims that the suncatcher is classifiable under subheading 9701.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for:

Paintings, drawings and pastels, executed entirely by hand, other than drawings of heading 4906 and other than hand- painted or hand-decorated manufactured articles; collages and similar decorative plaques; all the foregoing framed or not framed: Paintings, drawings and pastels.

It is true that the suncatcher is a hand-painted article. However, the suncatcher is also a manufactured article. "Webster's Third New International Dictionary", Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Mass., 1986, defines manufacture as:

2a.n. The process or operation of making wares or other material products by hand or by machinery, especially when carried on systematically with division of labor.

The process by which the suncatcher is created fits the definition of "manufacture". The articles are created by hand, on a large scale, utilizing a planned division of labor. An artist in California creates a design, a craftsperson in Korea paints the glass piece based upon the design and another craftsperson positions the lead caming around the glass piece. Even though no suncatcher is exactly alike, they are produced every year on a large scale basis. The suncatcher is clearly a manufactured article, made by craftspersons.

Counsel for the importer claims that if the suncatcher is manufactured, "the exception would swallow the rule. For example, under that interpretation, a more traditional painting on a canvas would also be considered a 'manufactured article'." However, there is a difference between a suncatcher and a "traditional painting". When artists come up with an idea for a painting, they do not put the design on paper and then send it to someone else to paint. They will paint what they have in mind, thereby making the painting a personal expression of their thoughts.

Also, counsel argues that the glass piece itself is not manufactured, thereby excluding itself from a class of articles such as hand-painted bread boxes, which do fall under the exception. The manufactured articles exception deals with the whole article, not just a certain part. The suncatcher in whole form is manufactured, regardless of whether the glass piece is or is not.

Since the suncatcher is a manufactured article, it is not classifiable under Heading 9701, HTSUSA.

Counsel claims that if the suncatchers are not classifiable under subheading 9701.10.00, HTSUSA, then they could be classifiable under 7016.10.00, HTSUSA, which provides for: Glass cubes and other glass smallwares, whether or not on a backing, for mosaics or similar decorative purposes. It is counsel's opinion that a suncatcher could be glass smallware because it is glass, it is small, it is an article of merchandise and it is used for decorative purposes. However, these characteristics are not the only criteria.

In understanding the language of subheading 7016.10.00, HTSUSA, the Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). Explanatory Note 70.16 (p.939) provides that "This heading covers a range of glass articles obtained by pressing or moulding (whether or not combined with blowing)." The glass used for the suncatchers is neither pressed nor moulded. There is also no glassblowing involved in the creation of the suncatchers. Articles under this subheading are generally used as building material, architectural ornaments, facing material for walls, lights for private homes, stained glass windows for churches, etc. The suncatcher does not fall under any of these categories.

The suncatcher is not classifiable under Heading 7016, HTSUSA.

Finally, counsel claims that the suncatcher is not classifiable under subheading 7013.99.50, HTSUSA, which provides for:

Glassware of a kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes: Other glassware: Other: Other: Other: Valued over $0.30 but not over $3 each.

In preparing its brief, counsel gathered an impressive amount of documentation from various "glassware retailers" who unanimously stated that the suncatchers would never be considered "glassware". However, the opinions of retailers concerning what they believe is contained in the glassware universe is not necessarily binding as to the definition of glassware for tariff classification purposes. Counsel claims that as described in Explanatory Note 70.13 (p.936) glassware articles are generally "containers". That is not the case. Explanatory Note 70.13 also describes glassware for indoor decoration that do not resemble containers. Examples are "statuettes, fancy articles (animals, flowers, foliage, fruit, etc., table centres, . . . and souvenirs bearing views."

The suncatcher is used for indoor decoration and it is made of glass. The point of the suncatcher is that light coming through a window shines through and illuminates the glass. The painting is mainly for decoration, but it is the glass that is being illuminated. .

In HQ 086166, dated April 9, 1990, a similar issue as to the classification of a suncatcher was raised. The suncatcher described in that ruling was made of both stained and clear glass, and brass etchings were contained within the glass itself. Counsel for the importer argues that the subject suncatcher is distinguishable from the suncatcher ruled upon in HQ 086166. Counsel is correct in that the two suncatchers are distinguishable in form, but they are not distinguishable in purpose. It was stated in HQ 086166 that "[t]he body of each suncatcher consists largely of glass. Although the glass suncatchers are held together by the brass, the largest portion of the area of each item is made of glass. Furthermore, the effect of the suncatcher is dependent on the reflection of sunlight off the glass. Based on function and area, the glass represents the essential character of this merchandise. Consequently, the suncatchers are classifiable as household articles of glass in Heading 7013."

As can be seen, the purposes of the subject suncatcher and the one in HQ 086166 are primarily the same. Light shines through the glass piece, illuminating the colors placed on the glass, regardless of whether the glass is painted or stained. Since the suncatcher is made of glass and its use is for indoor decoration, it is classifiable under subheading 7013.99.50, HTSUSA

As a final alternative classification, counsel claims heading 7020, HTSUSA, which provides for Other articles of glass. However, because Heading 7013, HTSUSA, is more specific in its description of the suncatcher, it is the heading under which the suncatcher is classifiable.


The suncatcher is classifiable under subheading 7013.99.50, HTSUSA. The protest should be denied. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Form 19, Notice of Action, and mailed to counsel for protestant.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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