Rare and Valuable Stamps From Bulgaria

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Tucked away in Southeastern Europe, Bulgaria shares a border with Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia, with the Black Sea to the east. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination, thanks to its beaches and winter resorts, with an emerging economy and high standard of living.

Like a lot of Europe, Bulgaria as it exists today was formed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Though never formally a part of the USSR, the country’s communist government was a close ally of Moscow between 1946 and 1989. Prior to that, Bulgaria had a brief period of fraught independence under a monarchical rule, and was formerly part of the Ottoman Empire.

Bulgaria’s Postal History

Bulgaria’ postal system was founded in 1879, not long after it separated itself from the Ottoman Empire. Reflecting the confusion of the growing country, these initial issues were printed in Cyrillic script, but used the French franc and centime as its primary denominations. The Bulgarian national symbol — a crowned lion — was the dominant visual motif. Only 100,000 copies of the 10-centime and 1-franc issues were printed, making them some of the rarer Bulgarian stamps on the collectors’ market today.

In 1881, Bulgaria adopted the lev as its currency and began printing new stamps in stotinki (a subdivision of the lev) denominations. Among the most sought-after of these early Bulgarian collectors’ stamps is an 1881 5-stotinki inversion, an 1882 3-stotinki inversion and an 1882 5-stotinki stamp printed in the wrong color.

Other Notable Bulgarian Stamps

Bulgaria’s classic philatelic period is generally considered to have lasted until 1908. Some notable stamps from this period include pictorials in 1901 and 1902 commemorating, respectively, the April Uprising and the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Shipka. Though neither of these issues have been known to command high prices at auction, forgeries are common of both.

Bulgaria in the 20th Century

Like much of Europe, Bulgaria experienced a great deal of upheaval throughout the 20th century. Following World War II, a leftist uprising led to its long period of communist rule. Bulgaria modernized rapidly during this time, though uncertainty still existed on a day-to-day basis for many.

Collecting Stamps From Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s stamps are hardly a favorite with outside collectors — most of the broader philatelic interest that exists in the country is concentrated around the relatively short classic period. However, Bulgarian stamps nonetheless have a lot to offer anyone interested in European history.

If you’re considering starting a collection or are looking for something in particular, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. We regularly have Bulgarian collectors’ stamps for sale in our online store, and may be able to search for a particular issue you’re looking for. Browse our website or contact us directly to learn more.