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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.

At first this was called the "assayer's mark" but is now commonly known as the date letter.

Gold and silver watch cases submitted for hallmarking at a British assay office had first to be stamped with a mark identifying the person submitting the work, using a punch that had been previously registered at the assay office.

American watch cases usually carry the maker's name and trade mark whereas British and Swiss made gold and silver cases are often anonymous apart from the hallmarks.

Many American watches were imported into Britain as bare movements and cased with British made watch cases which, if they are gold or silver, carry British hallmarks.

If you want to get a book about English hallmarking, Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks published by the Sheffield Assay Office is a long established reference.

Make sure that you get a 2014 or later edition, because only those contain correct information about British import hallmarks applied to watch cases.

There has never been a system of legally required independent hallmarking in America.Hallmarking is carried out by an organisation independent of the manufacturer of the item.In addition to the fineness, hallmarks can show where and when an item was hallmarked, and who submitted it.I don't make any attempt here to cover manufacturer's trade marks, of which there are thousands.If you want to identify a trademark, an invaluable resource is Mikrolisk.

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