Collector Donates 178 Sewing Machines to History Museum in Bulgaria’s Veliko Tarnovo, Oldest Is from 1893

Collector Donates 178 Sewing Machines to History Museum in Bulgaria’s Veliko Tarnovo, Oldest Is from 1893

The collection of 178 sewing machines has been collected for 55 years. Photo: Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History

A total of 178 sewing machines produced between 1893 and the 1960s have been donated to the Regional Museum of History in the northern Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo by a collector.The donation has come from Ivan Vachkov, an honorary citizen of the town of Zlataritsa, located 15 km southeast of Veliko Tarnovo, the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History has announced.

It points out that Vachkov has been collecting his sewing machine collection for the past 55 years.

Over 150 of the donated 178 sewing machines, are operational and in a perfect condition, the Museum says.

Ten of the antique sewing machines are foot-powered, and the rest are powered through a hand crank.

The oldest from the sewing machine collection is a German-made Köhler (Koehler) from 1893, while the newest antiques are from the mid-1960s.

Among the most valuable items in the sewing machine collection donated by Bulgarian collector Ivan Vachkov to the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History are also a German-made Pfaff from 1900, and a Britannia from 1916 with a preserved production number.

The collection also contains 36 models of the world famous American-made sewing machines Singer.

Collector Ivan Vachkov is an honorary citizen of the town of Zlataritsa in Central Bulgaria. Photo: Yantra Dnes daily

Most of the sewing machines are operational. Photo: Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History

The donated collection is the largest of its type in Bulgaria, and Vachkov has also applied to the Guinness World Records with it.

The Museum points out that the origin of every single antique sewing machine is known and documented, and the collector has provided the museum experts with information about the acquisition, technical parameters, and condition of all items.

The most interesting antique sowing machines are to be shown in a special exhibition once the Veliko Tarnovo Museum of History completes their cataloging and partial restoration.

In addition to the collection of 178 antique sewing machines, Zlataritsa collector Ivan Vachkov has also donated to the Museum a telegraph and three antique watches.

One of the watches is Swiss-made, and has on its back an engraved signature of Todor Zhivkov (1911 – 1998), the dictator of communist Bulgaria (formally the People’s Republic of Bulgaria) for over 35 years, from 1954/56 until 1989.

Vachkov claims that another of the watches belonged to Filip Totyu (1830 – 1907), a legendary guerrilla tactics rebel leader, a voivode, from the Bulgarian National Revival period (18th-19th century) who led armed bands of volunteers against the Ottoman Empire (of which Bulgaria was part at the time). This claim, however, is yet to be verified by the museum experts.

The donated antique watches. Photos: Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History

The watch with the engraved signature of Bulgaria’s communist era dictator Todor Zhivkov.

The watch said to have belonged to Bulgarian freedom fighter Filip Totyu.

Apart from the antique items he has already donated to the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History, collector Ivan Vachkov from Zlataritsa also owns collections of over 200 antique watches, over 100 antique TV sets, and 100 antique radio sets, most of which are operational.

The modern-day city of Veliko Tarnovo in Central North Bulgaria is the successor of the medieval city of Tarnovgrad (today’s Veliko Tarnovo), which was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396/1422) for 208 years (until 1393 when it was conquered by the invading Ottoman Turks).

Among other top cultural landmarks, Veliko Tarnovo is home to the Tsarevets Fortress, Bulgaria’s most popular museum landmark and the only one open for tourists 365 days a year, which has now become a marriage proposal site, and the recently restored Trapesitsa Hill Fortress.


Relevant Books on

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Bulgaria

Lonely Planet Romania & Bulgaria (Travel Guide)

Bulgaria History, Early Settlement and Empire: Pre-Bulgarian Civilizations, Communism, Society and Environment, Economy, Government and Politics

Cultural Tourism, 2nd Edition



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