A large number of treasures and single examples of antique and medieval coins are presented in the National Museum of History exhibition and describe Bulgaria as a real coin treasury. The exhibited numismatic material illustrates the important aspects of the social-political formations that existed on the territory of Bulgarian lands, the level of monetary relations, the development of trade interactions, the ruling political institutions and the fine art characteristics of the respective epochs.
Before the appearance of coins as the most universal embodiment of money (6th – 5th century BC), a variety of metal forms have been used in Thracian lands, called pre-monetary forms. Ancient Thrace maintained trade relations with a number of regions in the antique world. A clear indication is the large number of single finds and large hoards of coins of foreign rulers and cities from 6th – 1st century BC. To satisfy the market demand, Thracians also made imitations of the most popular foreign coins circulating in Thrace. They are characterized by a strong image stylization and inscriptions.
The silver denarius of the Roman Republic penetrated Thracian lands in the 2nd – 1st century BC. Their use for local trade became even stronger after the military and political Roman expansion on the Balkan Peninsula. Thracian lands became part of the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD and Roman gold, silver, bronze and copper coins became the only used currency. A number of towns in Upper and Lower Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia provinces received the right to mint their own local bronze coins and medaillons. This is the so called “collonial coin minting” in the Roman epoch, featuring a wide variety of images - different deities, personifications, architectural and sculpture monuments.
Byzantine coins were the most widely spread medieval foreign coins circulating in Bulgarian lands during 6th – 14th century. From this period numerous single examples and entire treasures are discovered.
Bulgarian medieval coin minting starts at the end of the 12th century. Bulgarian rulers minted coins mostly from silver and copper. There are many types of coins with original images and very good artistic style. The Bulgarian medieval coin production flourished during the rule of the Kings Michail Shishman, Ivan Alexander, Ivan Stratzimir and Ivan Shishman.
During the time of Ottoman domination, an important role played not only the turkish coins but also the gold and silver Europen coins in the money circulation in Bulgarian lands. Coins from Russia began to be used in the 18th century. The discovery of large hoards of foreign coins is a testimony of the intensive trade relations of our lands in the period 15th - 19th c.