The Collection of old printed books, rare and valuable editions consists of over 32 000 volumes and serials published between the 15th and the 21st centuries and is organized in separate smaller collections. The Collection includes liturgical books, religious and dogmatic books, educational, social, political, didactic, scientific literature and fiction in Bulgarian, Church-Slavonic and other languages. Specific criteria in acquisition are the special layout, the artistic cover and also the presence of autograph, exlibris etc.
The beginnings of the Collection go back to the establishment of the Library when collections of old printed books, rare and valuable editions and collections of Bulgarian National Revival series were formed. In 1879-1883 the Bulgarian merchant Nikola Kovachev, who lived in Vienna donated complete runs of the Turcia, Narodnost, Macedonia, Dunavska zora, Pravo, Napredak, Vek, Lyuben Karavelov’s newspapers Svoboda and Nezavisimost, Hristo Botev’s newspaper Zname. The large number of the donors through the years shows the contribution of Bulgarians from the Revival period and the present day for the collecting and preservation of a invaluable literary heritage. Among them are Pandeli Kisimov, Vasil Manchov, Petar Mateev from Kotel and many others. The Collection has grown continuously with new acquisitions through donations and purchase.
The Collection consists of the following smaller collections:
I. Slavonic Cyrillic printed books 15th-19th centuries.
II. Bulgarian old printed books and serials 1806-1878.
III. Bulgarian rare and precious books after 1878.
IV. Foreign language old printed books, rare and valuable editions, connected mainly with Bulgarian political and cultural history, with the history of the Balkan and Slavonic nations and having special cultural and historical value, or special lay-out from the 15th century till now.
V. Miniature editions.
The largest is the collection of Bulgarian old printed books and National Revival periodicals from 1806 to 1878. It contains 1800 titles in more than 25 000 volumes and it shows in that way almost all published production in that period. Among them should be mentioned: The largest is the collection of Bulgarian old printed books and National Revival periodicals from 1806 to 1878. It contains 1800 titles in more than 25 000 volumes and it shows in that way almost all published production in that period. Among them should be mentioned: KIRIAKODROMION sirech NEDELNIK by Sofronii, bishop of Vratza (1806), RIBEN BUKVAR (School Manual) by Dr. Peter Beron (1824), BOLGARSKA GRAMATIKA (Bulgarian Grammar) by Neofit of Rila (1835), TZARSTVENIK ili ISTORIA BOLGARSKAYA (History of Bulgarian kings) by Christaki Pavlovich (1844), BALGARSKI NARODNI PESNI (Bulgarian Folk Songs), collected by brothers Miladinovi (1861), PESNI I STIHOTVORENIA OT BOTIOVA I STAMBOLOVA (Songs and Poems by Botev and Stambolov) (1875) etc. The Bulgarian National Revival series include over 95 titles of newspapers and journals. The first Bulgarian magazine LUBOSLOVIE, edited by Konstantin Fotinov, was published in Smyrna (present day Izmir, Turkey) between 1844 and 1846 (24 issues). Only three issues of the first Bulgarian newspaper BALGARSKI OREL, published in Leipzig and edited by Dr. Ivan Bogorov came out between 1846 and 1847. The collection of Slavonic Cyrillic printed books includes editions which mark the beginning of the South Slavonic and in particular the beginnings of Bulgarian book printing. The copies of books, printed in the first Slavonic printing houses in Cetine and Târgovishte (Romania) include two incunabula OSMOGLASNIK (Octoechos), Cetine, 1494 and PSALTIR s POSLEDOVANIE (Psalter), Cetine, 1495, and also FOUR GOSPELS from 1512, printed in Târgovishte by monk Makarii. Very important are the Venetian editions from the 16th century and especially those, printed by the first Bulgarian publisher Yakov Kraikov – CHASOSLOVEC (Horologion), 1566, Psaltir s posledovanie (Liturgical Psalter), 1569 and Slujebnik (Leitourgicon), 1570. Rare and valuable editions also belong to that collection, namely: ABAGAR by Fillip Stanislavov, printed in Rome in 1651; STEMATOGRAPHIA by Christofor Zhefarovich, Vienna, 1741 and the poem LAMENT (Ostrog, 1603), issued in memory of Prince Alexander of Ostrog. The edition is a bibliographic rarity moreover, that the copy kept in the National Library is the most completed one known to the scholars. For the richness of the Collection certainly contribute the exemplars from the Russian and Ukrainian printing traditions.
The collection of foreign old printed books, rare and valuable editions 15th-20th centuries contains over 4100 titles, differentiated by languages (Latin, Greek, English, French, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish etc.). Greek old printed books with many marginal notes are the most numerous. The majority come from village Arbanasi, and towns Sozopol, Nesebar and Samokov. The Collection includes many rare and valuable editions which are collector’s items and are an invaluable acquisition for any library in the world. One of the oldest printed editions of Pindarus (1515), the first edition of St. Basil (1535), Ducange’s GLOSARIUM AD SCRIPTORES MEDIAE ET INFIMAE GRAECITATIS (1688), the printed editions of Svidas dictionary from 1705 and the magnificent edition of PHOTII MYRIOBIBLION (1653), 20 volumes of CORPUS BYZANTINAE HISTORIAE (1729) and many beautiful editions of liturgical books etc should be mentioned here, among them the two Latin incunabula from 1477 and 1493. The latter –SCHEDEL, HARTMAN. LIBER CHRONICARUM – richly decorated and was donated in 1968 by Mr. Liuben Basmadjiev, a Bulgarian living in Switzerland. Among the remaining books in this collection there are first valuable editions of classic authors of foreign literature in original language as well as editions with autographs and ex-libris. Some of them are: editions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s and Voltaire’s works (PENSÉES DE J.J. ROUSSEAU. Vol. 1-2. Geneve, 1785; VOLTAIRE, FRANÇOIS-MARIE AROUE. OEVRES CHOISIES de… Wien, 1810.); the Holy Bible edition translated by the German reformer Martin Luther (BIBLIA. DAS IST: DIE GANTZE HEILIGE SCHRIFT VERDEUTSCHT DURCH DR. MARTIN LUTHER, Nürnberg, 1736); the dictionary in three volumes of the French historian and Byzantologist Charles Ducange with ex-libris of the Bulgarian king Ferdinand (1887-1918). The edition IL REGNO DE GLI SLAVI.. by Ragusian historian Mavro Orbini, printed in Pesaro in 1601 is one of the sources of Istoria slavyanobalgarska of hieromonk Paisii of Chilendar in 1762.
In order to preserve the literary heritage the Library has a strategy for the preservation of the original copies by their reproduction. The preparation of facsimile editions of the Bulgarian National Revival newspapers was a priority in this respect as well as, the microfilming of newspapers which had not been reproduced in another way. This principle was applied for the Bulgarian old printed books in existence in only one or two copies available to the readers. There is a microfilm collection in the Collection of old printed books, rare and valuable books which include the major part of the Bulgarian National Revival series and copies of rare books and old printed books, housed in foreign libraries and depositories.
Catalogues, Inventories, Publications
The Collection is revealed by a system of alphabetical and chronological catalogues, in Prof. Marin Drinov Specialized Reading Room (Reading Room 1) of the Library. The only exception is the collection of Bulgarian old printed books and Bulgarian Revival series in the analytical descriptive catalogue “Balgarska vazrojdenska knijnina” (Bulgarian National Revival Literature), vol. 1 by Dr. Manio Stoyanov. The descriptions are also duplicated in the general catalogue of the Library. Acquisitions of the books in the collection are in many copies. This enforces the reflection of all copies in a topographic catalogue, made upon the chronology list of the index of Dr. Manio Stoyanov. The large bibliographical work Stari gratzki knigi v Bulgaria (Old Greek books in Bulgaria) by Dr. Manio Stoyanov represents to a great extent the variety of the collection of rare Greek books. Retroconversion of Bulgarian Old Printed Books is to complete the Electronic catalogue of the Library. Items reflecting the thematic scope of the Collection are included into the Digital Library which is regularly replenished.
The Collection is part of the Manuscript and Old Printed Books Department. The staff of the department offer specialized information.
Readers can request reproduction of the documents from the Collection by filling a form, according to the active Service Rules and of the Service Tariff in the Library.
Hours of service of the Department: Monday-Friday, 09.00 a.m.- 05.30 p.m.
The old printed books, rare and valuable editions can be used only in Specialized reading room N 1. Hours of service:
Monday-Friday 08.30 a.m. – 06.00 p.m.
Saturday 09.00 a.m. – 03.00 p.m.
Requests are accepted daily from 09.00 a.m. till 03.30 p.m. Old printed books, rare and precious editions can be used but are not drawn on Saturdays.