Bulgarian lev

As the crossroads between East and West, the Bulgarian land has preserved many various artefacts from different ages. The most commonly found ones are coins, especially Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian.

In 1880, with the passing of a law regulating the rights to produce coins in the Principality of Bulgaria, a new Bulgarian currency – the lev was established, divided into 100 stotinki. With the introduction of the lev it was pegged to the Gold French Frank and the bimetal standard (gold and silver) is adopted, with which Bulgaria de facto accepts the principles of the Latin monetary union. The Bulgarian National Bank, founded in 1879, manages to impose the use of the Bulgarian lev on Bulgarian territory with the help of special legislation banning Romanian, Serbian and Russian coins.

The first coins in the Principality of Bulgaria are 2, 5 and 10 stotinki cast made of copper in 1881. These are followed by Silver coins of 1 and 2 lev and gold coins with denomination of 10, 20 and 100 levs. The Bulgarian Mint was established in 1951 and the following year Bulgaria produces its first own coins.

The first Bulgarian banknotes are printed in the 30’s of the 20th century. These are notes with denomination of 5,000 and 20 levs, printed by the State printing press.

The banking crisis at the end of 1996 leads to a period of hyperinflation and the Bulgarian National Bank urgently issues banknotes with nominals of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and even 50,000 levs.

In 1997 a currency board is introduced in the country and the lev is pegged first to the German Mark and later to the Euro. This helps achieve price stability and the denomination of the lev follows in 1997. New banknotes come into circulation.

In 1994 the Printing press of the Bulgarian National Bank is launched. All Bulgarian notes, issued during the period between 1999 and 2013 are printed there and from 2014 to the present day they are printed in a joint venture between BNB and the French François-Charles Oberthur International SAS.

With their nominals, design and stylistic the Bulgarian money reflect different stages in the development of the country, the changes in its political system, its economy, culture and various social spheres. The Bulgarian coins and banknotes are some of the symbols of statehood and they preserve in a unique way the National heritage and cultural traditions for the next generations.


The content of this article is prepared with the assistance of the Bulgarian National Bank.

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