The Royal Library once numbered over 35,000 volumes, stored in the library collections of the Palaces in Sofia, Vrana, Tsarska Bistritsa, and Euxinograd, as well as in the building of the Royal Institutes of Natural Sciences. After the adoption of the law on nationalization of the personal property of kings Ferdinand and Boris III and their heirs in December 1947, all personal belongings of the Royal Family’s movable property – furniture, sets, objects, orders, uniforms, works of art, documents, books are officially
confiscated and formally distributed to various institutions. Along with this, however, a significant part of them was looted.
After the promulgation of the law in 1947, the communist government seconded National Library employees to list the Royal Library in the Vrana Palace. The librarians prepared the bibliography guarded by militiamen armed with machine guns in one of the Palace rooms. The librarian on service at Vrana witnessed the number of books in those years, revealing to the writer and journalist Vladimir Svintila that the library comprised nearly 8,000 volumes. Once drafting the inventory was over, the books were taken by truck to an unknown location. A year later, part of them ended up in the National Library, another – in the Central Library and Scientific Institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The rest – and prevailing part of them – were plundered.
In the National Library’s repository, a Royal Fund is stored, marked with the Cyrillic letter “Ц” – from “Царски” (Royal) in Bulgarian, which according to the inventory list, consists of about 1800 titles. However, some of the bibliographic signatures, no more than a hundred, are reduplicated or indicate books missing from the collection. Besides, other
300 volumes are incorporated as common inventory entries in the library’s general record (entitled “Bulgarian Literature Archive”) or added to various thematic funds. In addition to these bibliographically recorded and arranged books, old librarians testify to the presence of books from the Royal Collection, dumped in the underground anti-nuclear depository of the National Library with peeled bindings. The same officials tell that the library’s head allowed peeling off the books’ leather bindings for making shoes. The Royal Collection’s thorough review displays a considerable number of foreign- language issues – most of them in German, French and Italian, Czech, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, Albanian, except in Bulgarian. The editions date from the middle of the 16th century to the 40-s of the 20th century.
The other large institution that housed royal books is the library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The processing of 17 108 volumes of royal copies began in 1949 and lasted until 1953. The editions’ dating covers the period from the 18th century to the 1940s, and their thematic spectrum is extraordinary vast. The volumes are scattered among the academic library branches depending on the subject – the natural sciences issues delivered to the Zoological Institute’s library, and the Institute of Botany, those on art – to the Institute of Art History. A significant part of the publications is delivered to the scientific institutes, establishing library collections in history, geography, literature, etc. The general scientific publications
allocated to the Central Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) are kept and recorded therein. Another part (about 3000 volumes) forms a fund of rare books. Apparently, for a pity, distributing the books of a single owner to different academic funds, depending on their topic, is a policy of BAS, not an exception. Therefore, they didn’t wrap those 17 108 volumes in a separate holding. Apart from the National Library of St. St. Cyril and Methodius and BAS, the Military Academy of Georgi Sava Rakovski is also home to books from the Royal Collection. The entries kept there are mainly of military and historical subjects and number about 400 titles.