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HQ 968022

June 13, 2006

CLA-2 RR:CTF:TCM 968022 HkP


TARIFF NO.: 8306.29.0000

The Unicover Corporation c/o Stein Shostak Shostak & O’Hara
3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1240
Los Angeles, CA 90010

RE: Classification of base metal medals; revocation of HQ 951290

Dear Sirs:

This is in reference to Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 951290, dated May 27, 1992, in which the tariff classification of base metal medals was determined under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). HQ 951290 classified the medals in heading 7616, HTSUS, as “other articles of aluminum”. We have reconsidered HQ 951290 and have determined that the tariff classification of the medals is not correct.

As an initial matter, we note that under San Francisco Newspaper Printing Co. v. United States, 9 CIT 517, 620 F. Supp. 738 (1985), the decision on the merchandise that was the subject of Protest 5201-00-100573 was final on both the protestant and the U.S. Customs Service (now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”)). Therefore, while we may review the law and analysis of HQ 951290, any decision taken herein would not impact the entries subject to that ruling.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1625(c)), 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), notice of the proposed revocation was published on April 26, 2006, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 40, Number 18. No comments were received in response to this notice.


The medals are labeled as “First Man in Space Medals” from the Soviet Union and are described in the marketing literature as being minted from the metal of a Soviet spaceship actually flown in space. The metal has been identified as aluminum. The medals measure 40mm in diameter, the obverse featuring the profile of Yuri Gagarin (the world’s first man in space), the reverse his Vostok I spaceship orbiting the earth. The literature indicates that the medal may be part of a set also featuring a “3-Ruble First Man in Space Commemorative Coin”. Both the coin and the medal are individually encapsulated and shipped complete with a deluxe presentation box and a Certificate of Authenticity. We note that the medal is similar in appearance to the coin, in that, they are both round, have approximately the same diameter (the coin is 39 mm in diameter, the medal 40mm), and are both struck in Proof finish “with characteristic finely frosted details against a mirror-like background.” However, only the medal is considered in this ruling.

HQ 951290 classified the medal in subheading 7616.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for “Other articles of aluminum: Other.” HQ 951290 declined to classify the medal in heading 9705, HTSUS, as collector’s pieces of historical or numismatic interest, stating that:

Inasmuch the medals were produced in a large amount as a commercial undertaking and were imported in a large consignment, we would not regard them as collectors’ pieces nor forming a collection of numismatic interest.


Whether the “First Man in Space Medals” are classified in heading 7118, HTSUS, which provides for coins; heading 7617, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of aluminum; or, in heading 8306, HTSUS, which provides for statuettes and other ornaments of base metal.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined 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 GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

7118 Coin:
7118.10.0000 Coin (other than gold coin), not being legal tender ..

7616 Other articles of aluminum:
Other ..
Other ..

8306 Bells, gongs and the like, nonelectric, of base metal; statuettes and other ornaments, of base metal; :
Statuettes and other ornaments, and parts thereof: 8306.29.0000 Other ..

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs 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.

As an initial matter, we note that HQ 951290 declined to classify the medals in heading 9705, HTSUS, as collector’s pieces of historical or numismatic interest, because:

Inasmuch the medals were produced in a large amount as a commercial undertaking and were imported in a large consignment, we would not regard them as collectors’ pieces nor forming a collection of numismatic interest.

This reasoning was based on EN 97.05, which provides, in part, that:

Goods produced as a commercial undertaking to commemorate, celebrate, illustrate or depict an event or any other matter, whether or not production is limited in quantity or circulation, do not fall in this heading unless the goods themselves have subsequently attained that interest by reason of their age or rarity.

We agree that the medals should not be classified in heading 9705, HTSUS.

Heading 7118, HTSUS, provides for “Coins”. Explanatory Note 71.18 provides that:

This heading applies to coins of any metal of officially prescribed weight and design, issued under government control for use as legal tender. Consignments of individual coins or of sets of coins which are legal tender in the country of issue are classified in this heading even if they are put up for general sale in presentation cases.

Unlike the 3-Ruble First Man in Space 30th Anniversary Commemorative Coin, the subject medals are not legal tender. Furthermore, EN 71.18(a) indicates that heading 7118, HTSUS, does not cover medals, even if struck in the same way as coins. The medals are therefore not classifiable in this heading.

Heading 7616, HTSUS, provides for “Other articles of aluminum”. Explanatory Note 76.16 provides, in relevant part, that:

This heading covers all articles of aluminum other than those covered by the preceding headings of this Chapter, or by Note 1 to Section XV, or articles specified or included in Chapter 82 or 83, or more specifically covered elsewhere in the Nomenclature. (Original emphasis.)

Based on the foregoing, the medals are prima facie classifiable in heading 7616, HTSUS. However, EN 76.16 indicates that this proposed classification is a “basket” provision, in that, articles may only be classified in this heading if not more specifically covered by any other HTSUS heading.

Heading 8306, HTSUS, provides for “statuettes and other ornaments, of base metal”. Legal Note 3 to Section XV, HTSUS, defines “base metals” to include aluminum. The term “ornament” is not defined in the HTSUS. A tariff term that is not defined in the HTSUS or in the ENs is construed in accordance with its common and commercial meaning. Nippon Kogaku (USA) Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982). Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “ornament” as “something that lends grace or beauty”.

Explanatory Note 83.06(B), HTSUS, clarifies that:

This group comprises a wide range of ornaments of base metal (whether or not incorporating subsidiary non-metallic parts) of a kind designed essentially for decoration, e.g., in homes, offices, assembly rooms, place of religious worship, gardens.

The group covers articles which have no utility value but are wholly ornamental, and articles whose only usefulness is to contain or support other decorative articles or to add to their decorative effect, for example:

Busts, statuettes and other decorative figures; ornaments for mantelpieces, shelves, etc. (animals, symbolic or allegorical figures, etc.); sporting or art trophies (cups, etc.); wall ornaments incorporating fittings for hanging (plaques, trays, plates, medallions other than those for personal adornment); artificial flowers, rosettes and similar ornamental goods or cast or forged metal knick-knacks for shelves or domestic display cabinets.

The Court of International Trade (CIT) has stated that the canon of construction ejusdem generis, which means literally, “of the same class or kind,” teaches that “where particular words of description are followed by general terms, the latter will be regarded as referring to things of a like class with those particularly described.” Nissho-Iwai American Corp. v. United States (Nissho), 10 CIT 154, 156 (1986). “As applicable to classification cases, ejusdem generis requires that the imported merchandise possess the essential characteristics or purposes that unite the articles enumerated eo nomine in order to be classified under the general terms.” Id. at 157. The essential characteristics or purposes of the above listed exemplars are that they are of base metal and they are decorative. We note that the medals are targeted toward coin collectors, are struck in a proof (uncirculated) finish with “finely frosted details against a mirror-like background”, and despite their “coin-like” appearance, are not legal tender. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the medals are designed essentially for decoration and are wholly ornamental with no utility value. We find the medals to be ejusdem generis with the exemplars of EN 83.06 and therefore prima facie classifiable in heading 8306, HTSUS.

Applying EN 76.16 to these facts, we find that the medals are described with more specificity in heading 8306, HTSUS, as ornaments of base metal, than in heading 7616, because the medals are designed essentially for decoration, are wholly ornamental and have no utility value.


By application of GRI 1, we find that the subject medals are classified in heading 8306, HTSUS, and specifically provided for in subheading 8306.29.0000, HTSUS, which provides for “ Statuettes and other ornaments of base metal; : Statuettes and other ornaments, and parts thereof: Other”.

The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov.


HQ 951290 is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. §1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


Myles B. Harmon, Director

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