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HQ 952430

January 13, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952430 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 9601.90.80

Mr. P.A.R. Sargent
Norka Industries, Inc.
250-2 South Orange #743
Escondido, California 92025

RE: Plain, Painted, and Carved Ostrich Egg Shells; Not Collections and Collectors' Pieces of Zoological Interest

Dear Mr. Sargent:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of June 30, 1992, concerning the tariff classification of articles identified as blown ostrich egg shells - plain, painted, and carved - to be imported from South Africa by Norka Industries, Inc. A photograph displaying numerous plain, painted, and/or carved shells, was submitted with your inquiry.


The ostrich egg shells measure up to 6-1/2 inches in height. In circumference, the shells measure up to approximately 17-1/2 inches in length, and up to approximately 15 inches in width. Prior to importation, the shells are emptied, washed, sterilized, polished, and placed on a wooden (occasionally metal) base or stand. In some cases, the bottom and/or top of a shell's sphere is cut away, and wooden handles, spouts, and/or legs are glued to the remaining shell. These partial shells may then be fitted with lids, covers, fringe, and/or lining, to resemble jewelry boxes, tea pots, wine barrels, trophies, mugs, etc. All but the plain shells are hand-painted and/or hand-carved, and depict colorful nature scenes, animals, or floral designs.


Whether the ostrich egg shells are classifiable as collections and collectors' pieces of zoological interest under heading 9705, HTSUSA; or as worked animal carving material, and articles of these materials under heading 9601, HTSUSA.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, 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's may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's.

Heading 9705, HTSUSA, provides for "[c]ollections and collectors' pieces of zoological, botanical, mineralogical, anatomical, historical, archeological, paleontological, ethnographic or numismatic interest." The EN to heading 9705 submits that the collections and collectors' pieces of this heading derive their interest from their rarity, grouping, or presentation, and include (among other items) dead animals, preserved or stuffed for collections, and blown or sucked eggs and empty shells. The EN also suggests that goods produced as a commercial undertaking to depict an event or any other matter do not constitute collections or collectors' pieces of historical of numismatic interest unless the goods have subsequently attained that interest by reason of their age or rarity.

Although you have described these products as blown ostrich egg shells, we find that the emphasis placed upon the rarity, grouping, and presentation of collectors' pieces included in this heading, provides sufficient basis to exclude the subject articles, which are neither rare nor collectors' pieces of significant zoological interest. Therefore, the ostrich egg shells are not classifiable within heading 9705, HTSUSA.

Chapter 96, HTSUSA, provides for miscellaneous manufactured articles. Heading 9601, HTSUSA, provides for "[w]orked ivory, bone, tortoise-shell, horn, antlers, coral, mother-of-pearl and other animal carving material, and articles of these materials...."

The EN to heading 9601 indicates, in pertinent part, that the heading relates to worked animal materials. Such materials are mainly worked by carving or cutting, but also may be worked by any process which extends beyond cleaning, scraping, disinfecting, and/or treatment for preservation (the simple preparations permitted for raw materials). The EN suggests that the heading covers pieces of ivory, bone, tortoise-shell, horn, antlers, coral, mother-of-pearl, etc.,...cut to shape...or polished or otherwise worked, as well as small ornamental articles (e.g., trinkets and carved articles other than original sculpture and statuary) and articles made from special shells.

In light of the fact that the merchandise which has been worked the least (i.e., the plain shells) is polished and mounted on wood, it is our determination that all the ostrich egg shells are classified in subheading 9601.90.8000, HTSUSA, the provision for worked animal carving material, and articles of these materials.


The ostrich egg shells are classified in subheading 9601.90.8000, HTSUSA, the provision for "[w]orked ivory, bone, tortoise-shell...and other animal carving material, and articles of these materials...: Other: Other." The general column one duty rate is 3.7 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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