The area of modern-day Bulgaria has had an extensive coinage history, and Bulgaria itself has long been a vital part of the story of Europe. Today, Bulgaria coins are issued in the units lev (plural leva) and stotinka (plural stotinki); 1 lev = 100 stotinki. Bulgaria borders the countries of Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia.
Antique and medieval Bulgarian coins
Some of the earliest coins used in the area of modern Bulgaria were in fact Greek coins created by the Odrysian Kingdom, which lasted from 460 BC until 46 AD. It was after the fall of this kingdom that the era of actual Bulgarian rulers began, with the Old Great Bulgaria era that spanned the middle part of the seventh century.
For the next few centuries, Bulgaria’s history is intertwined with that of the Byzantine Empire, with whom the Bulgarians fought major winning and losing battles with at different times. An early defeat of the Byzantines led to the First Bulgarian Empire, which lasted from 681 until 1018, although Bulgarian coins are very hard to find from this era for sale.
The Second Bulgarian Empire began in 1185 with the ascension of the Asen Dynasty, from whom modern Bulgarian coin collectors have a rich array of collectible silver coins available. The Asens gave way to the Shishman Dynasty in 1323; they lasted until 1396, when Bulgaria became part of the mighty Ottoman Empire for the next several centuries.
Bulgaria after the Ottoman Empire
After the decline of the Ottomans, Bulgaria became independent again in 1878 with the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria, ushering in an era known as the Third Bulgarian state. It was the Principality that began using the lev and stotinka units of currency. Coins from this era, including several silver pieces, are popular with buyers. In 1908, Bulgaria became a kingdom, though its new coins shared space in general circulation with coins from the Principality days.
Communist Bulgaria and beyond
After World War II, Bulgaria became a communist state, and changed its name to the People’s Republic of Bulgaria; its coins reflected the ruling communist party’s sensibilities over the next several decades, and include several very interesting designs. In 1989, free elections were held and the name of the country was changed again, to the Republic of Bulgaria.
Since 1878, the various forms of modern Bulgaria have issued several collector’s coins in both silver and gold, in denominations of up to 20,000 leva. Uncirculated coins and other proof coins are available, and Bulgarian coin sets are available in the marketplace for several different years.
There are a lot of interesting coins available to Bulgarian coin collectors; check the current selection to see the latest. Listings are updated daily, with new Bulgarian coin offers added often.
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