All of us know that some bronzes may have a round seal / stamp into them, what those stamps are about?
- Q: What does the Cyrillic abbreviations mean?
- A: From Finance Ministry for 10 years (starting from the year in the middle);
- Q: What does it mean if the seal is not there?
- A: It means that the right to cast the sculpture for the next 10 years hasn't been sold by the artist to the foundry;
- Q: Must all seals look exactly identical?
- A: No, looks like the seals have been hand-inscribed on a wax model. There are dozens slightly different seals known;
- Q: Why some of such seals may have < Л.Ш. > instead of a year date?
- A: This remains uncertain to me. Logically, if the year is not there, it should be taken as the model was sold to the foundry forever, without any time limits.
So, the round impressed seals to the bases of the Russian bronzes indicate that the artist has sold the right to exclusively cast his sculpture in bronze to a certain foundry for 10 years starting from the year we can see in the middle of the seal. That also means, that a bronze bearing a seal with Y 1875 in it, was not necessarily produced in 1875, but could be made in any year within the 1875-1885 time frame.
The fact that a bronze may not have such a seal in it, does not mean it is not original, or any kind of defective in terms of value and authenticity.