Bulgaria Stamps Profile

Bulgaria is the sixteenth largest country in Europe located in Balkans in south-east Europe. The area is bordered by Romania to the North, Serbia & the republic of Macedonia to the West, and Greece & Turkey to the South. To the east lies the black sea which covers almost 380 kilometer eastern coastline. Bulgaria was on the losing side of World War I and II. It became a communist state following World War II. It started a transition to parliamentary democracy and free-market capitalism around 1990 following the unraveling of the Eastern Bloc. The country joined NATO in 2004 and European Union (EU) in 2007. Bulgaria has a land area of over 42,800 square miles with a population of just over 7.5 million making it fairly densely populated at close to 170 per square mile – the population growth has been negative since the early 1990s, falling from over 9 million in 1989. Bulgaria is located in a strategically significant location. Historically, the location near the Turkish Straits made it a key area for the route between Europe to the Middle East and Asia. More recently, it has become a major hub in the transit of oil and natural gas from Russia to Europe. Its terrain is mostly mountainous except for the lowlands in the north and southeast. Nevertheless, Bulgaria has a diverse climate with the alpine & Balkan mountain ranges featuring cold winters & hot summers, temperate continental in the Danubian Plains, and Mediterranean (dry summers & mild wet winters) in the valleys and lowlands of the South. Bulgaria ranks as the lowest income member state of the EU with the per capita GDP standing at 40 percent of the EU average. It is based on industry and agriculture – since the early 2000s, direct foreign investment increased every year, encouraged by its progressive policies.

The first stamps of Bulgaria were the ‘Lion of Bulgaria’ set issued on May 1, 1879. The set of five stamps (Scott #1 to #5) used a single-color design along with black & white. Each stamp in the set catalogs between $75 and $500 MNH and from around $20 to $75 Used. Following the currency change to Lev (from French franc equal valuation) in 1881, the stamps were reissued with new denominations & color schemes on April 10, 1981. That set (Scott #6 to #11) featured certain dual-colored designs. The catalog values range from around $15 to $400 for MNH and $3 to $40 for Used. The same design was reused with the next issue of seven stamps on December 4, 1882. That set (Scott #12 to #18) is remarkably affordable at around $45 for MNH and $5 Used. Surcharged varieties of these stamps were issued on May 1, 1884 and then again on April 5, 1885. These stamps (Scott #19 to #21 and #21b,c,d & 22) are very valuable but it is perilous for collectors to acquire them as excellent forgeries abound. The most valuable stamp in the set is Scott #20a (5s on 30s blue & fawn) which catalogs for around $2000 MNH or Used. Different designs in the ‘Lion of Bulgaria’ theme continued until 1896 when a design using the ‘Coat of Arms’ theme appeared. That set (Scott #43 to #46) released on Feb 1, 1896 is also very affordable at around $7 MNH or Used.


Below are other relevant stamp issues of Bulgaria over the years:

  1. A set of three stamps (Scott #70 to #72) released on August 29 1902 to commemorate the four Battles of Shipka Pass of 1877. The battles were fought between the Russian Empire aided by Bulgarians and the Ottoman and paved the way for the Liberation of Bulgaria – the Russo Bulgarian victory led to the establishment of a Bulgarian state with the Treaty of San Stefano, whereby Ottoman Empire was deprived of a part of its territory and Bulgaria was established. It took another thirty one years for Bulgaria to gain full independence. The design shows a fighting scene in the battles of Shipka Pass in three different colors and denominations. The set catalogs for around $10 MNH and about $3 Used.
  2. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #89 to #100) released on February 14 1911 showing Bulgarian local scenes of historic significance & Tsar Ferdinand. The designs show Tsar Assen’s Tower (Assen Dynasty of the 12th century), City of Veliko Tarnovo (Old Bulgarian capital), Isker River of Western Bulgaria, Rila Monastery (Founded in the 10th century and located in the North-Western Rila Mountains, it is Bulgaria’s largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery), Monastery of Holy Trinity, and View of Varna (largest city on the Black Sea coast of Eastern Bulgaria). This beautifully diverse set catalogs for around $60 MNH. A Used set is remarkably affordable at around $5 and is a great starter set for newbie collectors.
  3. A set of seven stamps (Scott #237 to #243) released on September 18, 1931 to mark the Balkan games. The designs show Gymnast, Soccer, Riding, Swimmer, Victory, Fencing, and Bicycle Race. The set catalogs for around $150 MNH and $55 Used. A sister set with new colors was also issued on January 5, 1933. This set is special in that it was sold only at the philatelic agency. For this reason, the set (Scott #244 to #250) is very valuable and catalogs for around $650 MNH and $225 Used.
  4. A set of six stamps (Scott #267 to #272) released on June 14 1935 to mark the fifth Balkan Soccer Tournament. The set features Soccer Game, Cathedral of Alexander Nevski, Soccer Team, Symbolical of Victory, Player & Trophy, and The Trophy. This set is also pretty valuable and catalogs for around $325 MNH and $130 Used. Another set to mark the eighth tournament of the Yunak Gymnastic Organization held in Sofia (July 12-14) was released on July 10, the same year. That set (Scott #273 to #278) of six stamps is also valuable and catalogs for around $200 MNH and around $90 Used.
  5. A set of four stamps released on April 26 1939 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Bulgarian State Railways. The set (Scott #346 to #349) is very affordable and catalogs for around $5 MNH and around a dollar Used. The set features Early Locomotive, Modern Locomotive, Train Crossing Bridge, and Tsar Boris in Cab.
  6. A set of eleven stamps released on August 9 1946 to commemorate Bulgaria’s participation in World War II. The designs show Attacking Troups, Grenade Thowing Soldier, and Attacking Planes. The set (Scott #512 to #522) is surprisingly affordable at around $2 for MNH or Used. This can form another marquee set for newbie collectors.
  7. A set of nine stamps (Scott #798 to #806) released in 1953 showing early architecture. The designs show Woodcarvings at Rila Monastery, Woodcarvings & Carved Ceilings in Tranovo, and Carvings at Pasardjik. The set catalogs for around $7 MNH and $2 Used.
  8. A set of three stamps (Scott #926 to #928) released on February 10 1956 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the National Library. The designs show the Library Seal, Krusto Pishurka, and Bacho Kiro (a man of letters as well as a revolutionary). The set catalogs for around 60c either MNH or Used. From 1956 onwards, Bulgaria started issuing sheets in canceled to order form. These stamps have very little value compared to postally used ones.
  9. A beautiful set of eight stamps (Scott #1395 to #1402) released on April 20 1965 the “Birds in Natural Colors” theme. The designs show Bullfinch, European Golden Oriole, Common Rock Thrush, Barn Swallow, European Roller, European Goldfinch, Rosy Pastor Starling, and Nightingale. The set catalogs for around $6 MNH and $4 Used. A sister set of six stamps (Scott #1403 to #1408) was also released on June 10 1965, this time in the “Black Sea Fish” theme. That set catalogs for around $2 MNH and around a dollar Used.
  10. A set of five stamps (Scott #2229 to #2233) released in April 1975 in the “Regional Costumes” theme. The designs show Gabrov Costume, Trnsk, Vidin, Gocedelchev, and Risen. The set catalogs for around $2 MNH and a dollar Used.
  11. A set of fourteen stamps (Scott #2779 to #2792) released on August 10 1981 to mark the 1300th anniversary of the First Bulgarian State. The set catalogs for around $5 MNH and $3 Used. A couple of Souvenir Sheets (Scott #2793 and #2794) was also released and those catalog for aroud $1 & $2 respectively for MNH and 50c & $1 respectively for Used.
  12. A set of four stamps (Scott #3955 to #3958) released on September 24 1996 in the “Steam Locomotives” theme. The set catalogs for around $1. The designs show steam locomotives circa 1836, 1847, 1848, and 1876. Another set in the general transportation theme was released on June 1 1999, this time featuring Bicycles. The set (Scott #4079 to #4082) catalogs for around $1 MNH or Used. The designs show Large front-wheeled bicycle, Multi-gear bicycle, BMX racing bike, and Mountain racing bike. A third set showing Airships was released on July 3 2000. The set (Scott #4147 to #4150) of four stamps catalogs for around $2 MNH or Used. The designs show Le Jaune over Paris, Hansa over Cologne, Norge over Rome, and Graf Zeppelin over Sofia. 
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Last Updated: 07/2011.
 

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