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HQ 956553

September 19, 1994
CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 956553 MMC


TARIFF NO.: 6913.90.50

Ms. Maureen Shoule
J.W. Hampton, Jr. & Co., Inc.
15 Park Row
New York, New York 10038

RE: Illuminated tree-shaped ceramic figurine; DD 896697 revoked; Headings 6702, 9505, 9405; ENs VIII to GRI 3(b), 67.02, 95.05, 69.13; NYRL 868459; HRLs 953189, 952890, 955527, 955647, 955529, 950041, 088233; GRI 1, 2, 3

Dear Ms. Shoule:

This is in reference to your letter of June 3, 1994, requesting reconsideration of DD 896697 dated May 4, 1994, in which you were advised by the Area Director of Customs, Newark, NJ, of the classification of an illuminated tree-shaped figurine under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Pursuant to section 625, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993) (hereinafter section 625), notice of the proposed revocation of DD 896697 was published August 17, 1994, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 28, Number 33.


The submitted sample, one of four available styles, is a battery operated 18 inch high illuminated figurine comprised of a metal wire assembly bound in "glow in the dark" black tape, iridescent plastic cut outs of ghosts, ghouls and specters, and an illuminated painted ceramic hollow base, shaped to resemble a tree trunk. The metal wire assembly is placed in the neck of the base and resembles the branches of a tree. The iridescent plastic cut outs attach to the metal assembly creating an illusion of ghosts in tree branches. The tree-shaped ceramic base also has ghost and skull figures molded in it. When illuminated from the inside, it appears to have an eerie glow. The box in which the article is packaged refers to it as a Halloween Tree.

In DD 896697, dated May 4, 1994, the article was held to be classifiable under subheading 6702.90.65, HTSUS, which provides for Artificial flowers, foliage and fruit and parts thereof, of ohter materials, other, other. You contend that it is more specifically classifiable as a festive article or as a ceramic article.


Whether the figurine is classifiable as artificial flowers, foliage, or fruit under the HTSUS.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

The headings under consideration are as follows:

6702 Artifical flowers, foliage and fruit and parts thereof; articles made of artificial flowers, foliage or fruit

6913 Statuettes and other ornamental ceramic articles

9405 Lamps, and lighting fittings including searchlights and spotlights and parts thereof, not elsewhere specified or included; illuminated signs, illuminated nameplates and the like, having a permanently fixed light source, and parts thereof not elsewhere specified or included

9505 Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, including magic tricks and practical joke articles; parts and accessories thereof

Note 3 to Chapter 67, HTSUS, states, in pertinent part, that:

Heading 6702 does not cover:

...(b) Artifical flowers, foliage or fruit of pottery, stone, metal, wood or other materials, obtained in one piece by molding, forging, carving, stamping or other process, or consisting of parts assembled otherwise than by binding, gluing, fitting into one another or similar methods.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be consulted. The ENs, although not dispositive nor legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128, (August 23, 1989). EN 67.02, p. 892-893, states, in pertinent part, that:

This heading covers:

(1) Artifical flowers, foliage and fruit in forms resembling the natural products,...

This heading does not include:

(e) Artifical flowers, foliage or fruit, of pottery, stone, metal, wood, etc., obtained in one piece by moulding, forging, carving, stamping or other process,...

(f) Wire simply cut to length and covered with textile material, paper, etc., for making stems for artificial flowers, etc.

We are of the opinion that heading 6702, HTSUS, does not describe the article in question. The article is made of ceramic and wire wrapped in tape. Therefore, Note 3 to Chapter 67, HTSUS, excludes it from classification in Chapter 67, HTSUS. Furthermore, the article is not a form which resembles a natural tree. Trees do not have skulls and ghosts surrounding them nor are they illuminated from the inside. Therefore, the figurine is not classifiable under heading 6702, HTSUS.

For a similar analysis see NYRL 868459, dated December 2, 1991, which classified a wooden tree with ornaments. Headings which were listed as describing the article, were 9505, which provides for festive articles, and 4420, HTSUS, which provides for other wooden articles. Heading 6702, HTSUS, was not considered.

EN 95.05 states, in pertinent part, that:

This heading covers:

(A) Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, which in view of their intended use are generally made of non-durable material. They include:

(1) Decorations such as festoons, garlands, Chinese lanterns, etc., as well as various decorative articles made of paper, metal foil, glass fibre, etc., for Christmas trees (e.g., tinsel, stars, icicles), artificial snow, coloured balls, bells, lanterns, etc. Cake and other decorations (e.g., animals, flags) which are traditionally associated with a particular festival are also classified here.

Customs understands this EN to indicate that heading 9505, HTSUS, provides for articles exemplified in the ENs and articles ejusdem generis to them. Characteristics indicative, but not conclusive, of a festive article are, if the article as a whole:

1. is of non-durable material or, generally, is not purchased because of its extreme worth, or intrinsic value (e.g., paper, cardboard, metal foil, glass fiber, plastic,

2. functions primarily as a decoration (e.g., its primary function is not utilitarian); and

3. is traditionally associated or used with a particular festival (e.g., stockings, and tree ornaments for Christmas, decorative eggs for Easter).

An article's satisfaction of these three criteria is an indication that it is classifiable as a festive article. The motif of an article is not dispositive of its classification and consequently, does not transform an item into a festive article for tariff purposes. An article, as a whole, must be specifically affiliated with a particular festival, and not merely contain the motif of the festival. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 953189 dated April 15, 1993, and HRL 952890 dated March 16, 1993.

Customs is of the opinion that the subject figurine functions primarily as decoration, and is not purchased for its extreme worth or value. However, we find that while the box refers to Halloween, the figurine is not traditionally associated with that particular festival.

Ghosts, ghouls, and specters are not the same types of articles cited in the ENs to heading 9505, HTSUS, as examples of traditional, festive articles, nor do they particularly relate to Halloween. Ghosts, ghouls, and specters are often the subject of mythology, history, plays, movies, and cartoons bearing no significance to a festival or holiday. For example, a variety of ghosts are the subject of the movie "Ghostbusters" and a friendly ghost is the subject of the cartoon, "Casper the Friendly Ghost". Relative to their representation of the after life, ghosts often represent the physic or paranormal. Therefore, the figurine is not classifiable as a festive article.

This is consistent with our holding in HRL 955527 dated March 1, 1994, wherein a standing witch with broom and a seagrass scarecrow were classified other than as festive articles. In that decision, Customs explained that witches and scarecrows are not associated with a particular festival but in part, are associated with, respectively, mythology, history, and a bountiful harvest. See also: HRL 955647 dated March 15, 1994, and HRL 955529 dated March 16, 1994.

Inasmuch as no provision in the HTSUS describes the illuminated figurine in its entirety, it is considered a composite good and cannot be classified according to GRI 1.

When goods cannot be classified by applying GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's are applied. GRI 2(a) states in pertinent part that:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule), entered unassembled or disassembled.

It is our understanding that the article is imported finished and complete, therefore GRI 2(a) does not apply.

GRI 2 (b) states, in pertinent part, that any reference in a heading to a material or substance shall be taken to include a reference to mixtures or combinations of that material or substance with other materials or substances. The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of GRI 3.

GRI 3 states that when, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

The two remaining headings under consideration, 9405, HTSUS, which describes the lighting component and 6913, HTSUS, which describes the porcelain base, each describe part only of the materials used to make the article in question. Therefore, the headings are considered equally specific and GRI 3(b) must be applied.

GRI 3(b) states, in pertinent part, that:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

EN VIII to GRI 3(b), pg. 4, states that:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

We find that the ceramic base imparts the essential character of this article. EN 69.13, p. 923, states, in pertinent part, that:

This 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, e.g.:

(1) Statues, statuettes, busts, haute or bas reliefs, and other figures for interior or exterior decoration; ornaments (including those forming parts of clock sets) for mantelpieces, shelves, etc., (animals, symbolic or allegorical figures, etc.); sporting or art trophies; wall ornaments incorporating fittings for hanging (plaques, trays, plates); medallions; firescreens; artificial flowers, fruit, leaves, etc.; wreathes and similar ornaments for tombs; kick-knacks for shelves or domestic display-cabinets.

We are of the opinion that the tree figurine is wholly ornamental, because its illumination is minimal, it has little if any utility and its other features serve no purpose. It is greater in bulk, weight or value than any other portion of the article. It appears that the lighting function simply enhances the already decorative nature of the article. Therefore, the article will not be purchased, primarily, for its lighting characteristics.

This finding is consistent with HRL 950041, dated October 31, 1991, which held that the lighting component in the "Little Village Collection" merely enhanced the already decorative nature of the article and was not its essential character. Likewise, in HRL 088233, dated May 1, 1991, we held that the lighting portion of a mirror merely enhanced the mirror's function and was not the article's essential character. See also, HRL 953189, dated April 15, 1993. We find that the illuminated tree-shaped figurine is classifiable in heading 6913, HTSUS, as an ornamental ceramic article.

Classification in the appropriate subheading at the six digit level requires a determination of the materials used to make the accessories. The legal notes to chapter 69, HTSUS, delineate which chemical tests may be performed to determine whether an article is ceramic, porcelain, china, bone china, or earthenware for tariff purposes. When performed, these tests use a sample article which is often destroyed during testing. However, in some cases specifications and information regarding the manufacturing process may also be acceptable to determine the materials used to create the article in question. Based on the facts presented, it is Customs understanding that the article is neither porcelain or china and therefore, is classifiable under subheading 6913.90, HTSUS.

Classification in the appropriate subheading at the eight digit level depends on whether the article's creator is considered a professional sculptor for tariff purposes. A professional artist and a work of art, for tariff purposes, must meet strict parameters. To be considered a professional artist, a person must have graduated from a course at a recognized school of art, or be recognized in art circles as a professional artist by acceptance of his or her works in public exhibitions limited to the free fine arts. In addition to being considered a professional artist, each article produced by that artist must be original in design, conception, and execution.

Because of the minimal value of the article, we do not believe that the creator of the article meets the definition of a professional sculptor for tariff purposes. Therefore, the article is classifiable under subheading 6913.90.50, HTSUS, which provides for Statuettes and other ornamental ceramic articles: Other: Other: Other.


The subject illuminated decorative article is classifiable in subheading 6913.90.50, HTSUS. The general column one rate of duty is 7 percent ad valorem.

DD 896697 dated May 4, 1994, is hereby revoked. In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to section 625 does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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