American Watch Case Manufacturers Run Against Switzerland's Stamping Laws
Washington, D. C, Nov. 9.—Adolph Frankenthal, United States Consul at Berne, Switzerland, calls attention to the fact that several United States firms who have been shipping gold filled watch cases to Switzerland have subjected themselves to punishment because they have put stamps on the cases contrary to the Swiss laws. The imprint "14k" or "18k," on filled watch cases is an evasion of the law in Switzerland, as such a stamp is supposed to represent the quality throughout the article; a gold filled case can have only the stamp "gold filled." Goods marked "14k" or "18k" in addition to this will be confiscated and an additional fine will be imposed.
Article 41 of the law of Nov. 15, 1892, says articles plated with gold or silver can only be stamped "gold plated'' (plaque or) or "silver plated" (plaque argent). Besides these words nothing is allowed, especially anything which would produce on the mind of the buyer an erroneous impression of the value of the metal; consequently no such designation as "plated with gold 18 karats," "plated with gold 14 karats," or "plated with silver 0.800." The marks "18 karats," "14 karats," and "0.800" are designations applied to goods consisting of gold and silver as defined by Articles 1 and 2 of the Federal law, that is to say, gold and silver of specified fineness throughout. The stamping of these goods is obligatory.
The following articles from the Swiss Federal law should be borne in mind when manufacturing gold and silver ware for the Swiss market:
Art. 42. Whenever gold or silver ware is found to contain either in parts, inside or outside, a less degree of fineness than the stamp indicates, and after a test this fact is confirmed, those goods shall he confiscated and destroyed, independent of punishment according to law.
Art. 43. As deceptive are declared stamped gold or silver where the inner, not visible, parts contain alloy or other substances of less fineness than the main part of the article.
Art. 44. Stamped ware declared to be deceptive shall be destroyed by the sworn assayer, independent of penalty adjudged.
In the annual report of the Federal Department of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, for 1897, it appears that in October last the Chamber of Commerce, of Leuenberg, called attention to the fact that a certain quantity of plated watch cases, stamped as 14k, was imported from the United States into Switzerland. Inspectors were instructed to watch the ports of entry of Locle, Prentrut, Basle and Verrieres and to be particular in their inspection of entries of watches or watch cases from the United States. The result of this inspection was the discovery of the delinquents, who were punished with a heavy fine. It is claimed that this unlawful opposition would have entailed a great loss on Swiss manufacturers had it been allowed to continue. The reshipment of those cases from Switzerland would be as goods of Swiss manufacture, thereby bringing into bad repute the reputation of the Federal assay office.
Source: The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review - 16th November 1898