The first stamps were issued by Bulgaria as a principality in 1st March 1879. Bulgaria had been province of the Ottoman Empire until 1877 when, following a revolt in support of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been annexed by Austria-Hungary, and after much fighting and following an intervention by Russia, a principality was established north of the Balkan Mountains. The first stamps are referred to by collectors as the “Large Lions” and were issued in 1879.
Bulgaria remained a principality under Turkey until it became an independent kingdom in 1908. The fascinating and difficult history of the region, including the Balkan Wars, has shaped a fascinating philatelic history. The king was deposed on 15 September 1946 and a People's Republic was declared on the same day. Stamps of the new regime replaced the previous royal issues. The Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) dominated the post-war scene. After their leader, Todor Zhikov was forced to resign in November 1989, further leadership changes culminated in the National Assembly voting to abolish the BCP's constitutional guarantee of power in January 1990. Later the same year, multi-party elections were held and a new constitution was prepared.
Throughout its history Bulgaria has continued to produce beautiful and fascinating stamps and we would recommend the comprehensive stamp listing in Stanley Gibbons Part 3 Balkans catalogue, also those published by Michel in their Sud – Europa Volume 3 catalogue.