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Numismatics

The Numismatic Collection is the only one in the Museum that has not experienced any organizational changes throughout the years. After the establishment of the Museum as an independent institution the Collection was differentiated and has remained as such so far. The Collection is the most numerous and its inventory numbers exceed that of the other Collection of the Museum. Even in the very beginning the Numismatic Collection consisted of 2357 coins, compared to only 343 exhibits in the other Collections of the Museum. This was due to the great interest in ancient coins in comparison with the other antiques. But according to Andrej Protič, the interest of the society in coins was due to their market value. Nobody stored ancient coins at home, but immediately sold them to goldsmiths. The goldsmiths quickly recast them especially the golden ones, before the Museum could acquire any coin for the Collection.

The first keeper of the Numismatic Collection, Domeniko Tachella, was an Italian who came to Bulgaria before the Liberation. He was a trader and settled in Plovdiv, where being an amateur he managed to initiate a significant collection of bronze coins from towns on the Balkan Peninsula. Later he donated this collection to the Museum in Plovdiv. But his business failed and he was forced to become a clerk at the National Library in Plovdiv. There he arranged the coins already acquired for the museum. From 1893 to August 3,1903 Domeniko Tachella was appointed keeper of the Numismatic Collection of the National Museum in Sofia. He was not trained in Numismatics particularly, but with diligence he managed to identify and classify all coins in the Collection. He was also the first museologist in Bulgaria, who began filling special file-card for every coin. The system of the classification of coins, made by him, was applied until 1932. During his tenure the collections, especially those of ancient coins struck in mints on the Balkan Peninsula, grew significantly and thus the Numismatic Collection of the National Museum of Archeology in Sofia raged among the largest in Europe.

Tachella dedicated much of his time to publication of some unknown coin types from the Collection along with his activities as keeper. A necessity of a special program for investigation of coin types aroused with the growth of the Collection and the development of the Numismatic Department. The main goal of this program was to find possibilities for more detailed enrichment with different coin types. The museum’s director soon became aware of the fact, that the Roman, Greek and Byzantine coins collection could never match the European famous coin collections. So he decided to put aside the enrichment of those series. The efforts of the keeper of the Collection focused on enrichment of the collections of coins struck in mints in Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, and the collection of Bulgarian coins. These coin types were of particular interest due to their significance for the history of Bulgaria. Similar coins were common for the Bulgarian lands and the Museum had the opportunity to enrich its collections to range among those of the famous world museums. From this period onward the Museum completed the series of Thracian coins, coins of the town authorities from Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, and Bulgarian coins. Thus, in 1920 the Museum owned the richest collection of the mentioned coins in Bulgaria.

In 1910 the Museum participated for the first time in the big international sales in Paris and Munich, purchasing some interesting specimens for its series. The Museum’s annual report informs that the prices of the newly acquired coins are reasonable, much lower than in Bulgaria. The outbreak of World War One put an end this practice.

After the withdrawal of Domeniko Tachella in 1903 the director of the Museum headed the Department until the beginning of 1918. Nikola Mušmov started working as an accounting secretary at the Museum in 1904. In 1918 Bogdan Filov offered him the position head of the Numismatic Department, though he did not have neither education in Numismatics or any practice. He compensated for the lack of specialized education with incredible diligence and studiousness. During his management the Museum acquired important coins and coin hoards, among which the hoard of 66513 Roman coins from Reka Devnya, Varna district. As head of the Department Nikola Mušmov checked all coins of the Collection according to the inventory books and corrected the wrong inventory numbers. In order to avoid any future mistakes special cartons for coins were designed with the inventory number of each coin. Coins of Olbia, Dacia, Upper and Lower Moesia and from towns in Thrace (Abdera and Hadrianopolis) entered the catalogue in 1919. In the same year the Collection of the Museum consisted of 34125 specimens (including the collection of Vassil Avramov, consisting of 7076 coins, acquired for the Museum in 1912). Coins of great historical importance for the development of the Bulgarian lands enriched the Collection in this period.

205 golden, silver and bronze coins of all historical periods were stolen in 1925. Fortunately, after the robber was captured, the coins major part was returned to the Museum.

Nikola Mušmov, the keeper of the Numismatic Collection, was successful both as a keeper and as a scholar. He published 6 monographs and a number of articles. His activities in the Museum were also impressive. In 1931, when he retired, the Collection comprised 113215 specimens. He continued the practice of purchasing coins though the credits were not granted and the owner regularly paid. Thus many of them looked for a better market.

When Nikola Mušmov retired, Stoian Andreev was appointed keeper of the Numismatic Collection for a short period. In the same time Todor Gerassimov specialized in Numismatics in Germany. In 1932 he was appointed head of the Numismatic Department. The new head of this Department was the first one in Bulgaria with education and a specialization in Numismatics. That fact was very significant for the development of the Department. His competence and diligence were obvious from the very first day of his work. Besides being keeper of the Collection in Sofia, he arranged the numismatic collections in Burgas, Vidin, Ruse, Nikopol, and Kazanlak. Todor Gerassimov set the beginning of a new collection of coins with counter marches, which were of exceptional importance for the understanding of the development of culture and society in the Bulgarian lands. At the same time he made a new classification of all ancient and Byzantine coins in the Collection of the Museum. Todor Gerassimov arranged in the permanent exhibition of the Museum a display with various artifacts and coins, illustrating the beginning of coinage and its development through ages, as well as a collection of ancient countermarks, imitations of coins of the barbarian tribes, contemporary countermarks and Islam coins.

Many coins enriched the collection in 1942 it already consisted of 117279 specimens. Among the items of historical importance were the leaden stamps of the kings Simeon and Peter; coins of the Byzantine emperors from the 14th century etc. Todor Gerassimov held the post ‘Head’ of the Numismatic Department for 40 years (1932-1972). Many coin types enriched the Collection in this period. He managed to acquire for the Museum 80 significant coin treasures. He continued also the systematization of the coins, but unfortunately the bombardments in January 1944 put the end of this hard, but useful practice. Buyuk Mosque, the building of the Museum, was set on fire and one part of the inventory book burnt. These tragic events did not discourage Todor Gerassimov and he made a new inventory of all coins of the Collection. This huge and hard work took over a decade of the best years of the internationally renowned scholar. The inventory was so good the scholars believed it is ready to print as a catalogue.

After Todor Gerassimov retired, Jordanka Jurukova was appointed head of the Numismatic Department. She was the second (after Todor Gerassimov) keeper trained in Numismatics. For more than two decades she continued the efforts of the previous keepers to enrich the Collection. The main sources to acquire new coins were purchase and excavations by the Museum’s staff. Significant number of ancient and medieval coins as well as seals entered the inventory books, among them specimens of extraordinary importance and value. In 1996 Jordanka Jurukova was appointed director of the Institute of Archeology with Museum and handed her part of the Collection over to Bistra Bozhkova. In the same year Boriana Ruseva replaced Sesilia Dimitrova as keeper of the coin hoards. In 2002 Anastasia Stefanova handed over the Collection known as ‘Vassil Avramov’s Collection’ to Dochka Aladzova. The Scholarly Council of the Institute of Archeology with Museum decided to unite all parts of the Numismatic Collection in 2003 and Miroslava Dotkova was appointed keeper.

Dochka Aladzhova



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