Bulgaria’s Shumen Museum Dedicates Exhibition to 110th Birthday of Prominent Coin Collector, Numismatist Vasil Haralanov

Dr. Vasil Haralanov (1907-2000) is said to have been one of the largest coin collectors in Europe of his time. Photo: Shumen Regional Museum of History

The Regional Museum of History in the city of Shumen in Northeast Bulgaria has opened a special exhibition to celebrate the 110th anniversary since the birth of Dr. Vasil Haralanov, a prominent local figure who was also a major coin collector and amateur numismatist.

Haralanov was born on September 25, 1907, in Shumen, and passed away on May 20, 2000, at the age of 93.

An ardent numismatist, he went on to become “one of the largest coin collectors in Europe", according to a release by the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.

The Exhibition on “110 Years since the Birth of Dr. Vasil Haralanov" of the Shumen Regional Museum of History features documents related to his life and his personal belongings.

These include photographs, hand-written articles, and letters from his long-term correspondence with prominent Bulgarian scholars such as numismatist Nikola Mushmov (1869-1942), archaeologist and numismatist Prof. Todor Gerasimov (1903-1974) (who was the first professor of numismatics at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski"), and archaeologist and numismatist Prof. Yordanka Yurukova (1936-2012), long-time Director of the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.

Ethnographic and other items, which belonged to Haralanov, dating back to the Ottoman period (i.e. before Bulgaria’s national liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878) are also part of the exhibition.

Some of the exhibits marking the 110th birthday of Dr. Vasil Haralanov are publicly displayed for the very first time.

Shumen native Vasil Haralanov originated from a prominent Bulgarian Revival Period (18th-19th century) family. After he graduated from high school, he studied medicine in Montpelier, France.

He returned to Shumen in 1933 to practice medicine but also to dedicate much of life to his passion – collecting coins as a numismatist.

Haralanov’s numismatic collection featured tens of thousands of coins. However, in 1970, during Bulgaria’s communist period, his home was raided by the authorities, and his coin collection was seized.

Many of the coins in it were damaged or stolen, and under pressure from the authorities, in 1971, he was forced to donate it prematurely to the Shumen Regional Museum of History.

It is known that Haralanov had intended anyway to leave his coin collection to the Shumen Museum after his death.

The official poster for the exhibition on the 110th birthday of Bulgarian collector and numismatist Vasil Haralanov. Photo: Shumen Regional Museum of History

Today, the Regional Museum of History in Shumen keeps about 8,000 of his coins – known as the Vasil Haralanov Collection.

The most valuable of those coins are exhibited in the Museum’s vault, the so called Treasury Hall.

Another part of Haralanov’s coin collection is kept at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia.

The “110 Years since the Birth of Dr. Vasil Stefanov Haralanov" exhibition can be seen until November 1, 2017, in the Marble Lobby on the 2nd floor of the Regional Museum of History in Bulgaria’s Shumen.

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