The Tools and Household Collections are a part of the ethnographic fund of the museum. The fund includes materials from the beginning of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century. The collections were created via donations from state institutions, donations or purchases from private persons or acquired during general scientific expeditions of the National Museum of History to various areas of Bulgaria. The objects run to two thousand fund units.
The Collection of ceramic vessels consists of earthenware produced in the main pottery centres in Bulgaria: Gabrovo, Troyan, the village of Busintsi in the Tran area, Berkovitsa, Chiprovtsi, Samokov, Razgrad and others. It shows the development of pottery – making from the end of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century. According to their purpose and shape, ceramic vessels are subdivided into several smaller collections:
- Pots and pans: pitchers, jugs, earthen cups, dishes, plates, krondiri (brandy vessels), pavuri (brandy flasks), rakatki (earthenware jugs with a handle across the opening)
- Ritual vessels: wedding pitchers, wedding krondiri (brandy flasks), bowls for holy water, censers
- Products of craft industry – pots, pipes of distillers, earthen jars, small earthenware pots, jam – jars, vessels for vinegar and others.
The vessel’s decoration depends on its shape and purpose. Stylized floral ornaments and rosettes are predominant patterns. In decoration, preference is given to yellow, green and brown colours derived from various metal oxides.
The collection of wrought iron objects is connected to the way of life and main occupation of Bulgarians. Skilled workers: cutlers, petalari (producers of horseshoes), producers of nails, hoes, axes, scales, keys and others made models of art in their workshops and left them for future generation: variety of wrought candlesticks for churches and monasteries, borinarnitsi, chains for hearths and andirons; decorative details used in town building and housing construction: bindings, hinges, door handles, door – knockers, window gratings for houses, religious and public buildings; household craft scales; sickles, pruning – knives, spatulas for dough, stands for hearths, grills, pokers, spits and others.
Collection of wrought copper objects is an illustration of the creative work of the copper vessels makers. The museum owns very fine examples of copper work which come from the centres in Plovdiv, Sofia, Shumen, Kazanlak, Karlovo, Panagurishte, Ustovo, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Tarnovo, Vidin, etc. The artistic quality of the copper vessels produced in those centres has made them popular not only among the country population but also abroad. The great variety of wrought copper objects is connected to some occupations such as: sheep - breeding, home spun tailoring, dyeing trade, as well as house painting. The masters made cauldrons, as well as distillers for production of rakiya (brandy) and rose oil; The wrought – copper makers produced a large quantity of copper vessels related mainly to the household needs of Bulgarians: cauldrons, cooking pots, baking dishes, mortars, pots, large baking dishes, frying pans, bowls; kapaklii (vessels with lids), kipcheta ( copper vessels with long handle to scoop and drink water ); pannikins, ewers, spoons, bowls, cans, ablution pitchers, mangali (shallow vessels for heating in which charcoal is burned), sefertasove (vessels for carrying food, put one on the top of the other) and others.
The collection of pewter vessels arouses interest with the original shape and decorative ornaments of the so – called vitlenitsi. They had their origin in old times and were used mainly on holidays and at feast rituals that makes them a specific group of works of trade, called vitlenicharstvo because of the distinctive screw plugs used in the vessels. The makers called vitlenichari casted them in moulds various in shape: round, rectangular, hexagonal or octahedral ones, put on a low stem. The collection contains vessels in the shape of a jug, a bottle, a fish, a bird.
Wood material – available in large quantities and accessible to all – was widely used in the construction industry, for external and international decoration of buildings, for making various tools and household items. Shallow (Shepherd’s) carving is part of woodcarving art. The appearance of this type of carving is connected with one of the main means of livelihood of the Bulgarians – sheep - breeding. Part of the population of the mountainous regions spent several seasons of the year in the mountains. The shepherds made small wooden articles and decorated them with shallow carving. The collection includes: distaffs, spoons, spoon – boxes, shepherd’s bowl, wooden pails; seals for bread, called prosfori (small flat loaf with a cross on it and used in Christian rites, e.g. Communion), ox – bows, cow – staffs, walking sticks, three – legged stools, low round dining tables, mirror – frames, cupboards, chests, doors, shutters, ceilings, and others.