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Foreign made watch cases were no more exempt from the law than British made cases, but hallmarking of imported watch cases was not enforced before 1907.
There was a from a short period between 18 when a small proportion of foreign watch cases were hallmarked in the same way as British made watch cases, but apart from this most watches were imported into Britain either without hallmarks at all, or with hallmarks from their country of origin.
This is not noted in most tables of hallmarks, which only show the year when the punch was first used.
But please remember that an entry of, for example, "1914" really means 1914 to 1915.
Priestley's "Watch Case Makers" American Hallmarks? German Hallmarks • Pforzheim French Swan and Owl Russian Hallmarks Polish Hallmarks British Sponsor but No Hallmarks?
Cautions about Hallmark Tables This page is principally about hallmarking.
In 1478 the first permanent assayer was appointed and items had to be taken to Goldsmiths' Hall to be assayed and marked, the origin of the term "hallmarking".
A system of variable letters, changed each year when new wardens were elected, was introduced to identify when, and therefore by whom, an item had been assayed.
Precious metal (gold and silver, and more recently platinum) objects have by law been tested and marked in England since at least the year 1300, and since 1478 had to be taken to Goldsmiths' Hall in London, from which the term ‘hallmarking’ originate.There are brief descriptions of different types of hallmarks that you are likely to find in a watch case, and then for the British and Swiss hallmarks there are links to take you to pages of more detailed information.If you want to get a book about British hallmarking, Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks published by the Sheffield Assay Office is a long established reference.Before that date gold cases were usually stamped with their carat fineness by the case maker, and silver was marked with its millesimal fineness, usually 800, or sometimes just "fine silver".British practice changed in 1907 when it was ordered that all imported gold and silver watch cases be assayed and hallmarked in a British assay office.