Author: Todor Predov

the book...

This book just came of print 2003. First edition in Bulgarian, with 3 pages summary and description of each photo in English. Photos of Bulgarian daggers for the period of the creating of 3rd Bulgarian kingdom 1878 till today.

All type Bulgarian daggers are presented - navy, air, police, fire forces, etc.dirks. Also there is a few Russian and other daggers given as a gift to the Bulgarian statesman.

Contains 40 full colour photos, 7 black and white; 94 pp.; a few graphics and documents, size 16/16 cm.

Price: 15 EUR

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The book acquaints the readers with the emergence and development of dirks, as a weaponry item of officers in Bulgaria, and their relation to history of military and police uniform. It comprises two historically formed periods connected with important political and socioeconomic changes. The first one refers to the time from 1879 to 09.09.1944, and the second one - from 09.09.1944 to 10.11.1989. In conformity therewith, the dirks have become popular with the designations "royal" and "socialist". The study is first of its kind on this subject. The matters have been treated mainly in historical and scientific aspect, but the practical benefit for the readers -fans and collectors, has also been sought. That is why rich illustrations of colour photographs of dirks and their elements, as well as graphic images of stamps, signs, and maker marks have been enclosed. This contributes to most exact orientation in the matter and protection from fake dirks, whereby the book turns into both a reference book and an original art album. Documentary sources about introduction and use of dirks - decrees, rules, orders, etc., a part whereof have been included as facsimiles, have been studied. Relation between dirks, types of officer uniforms, and the cases, wherein the carrying of a dirk has been provided for, is shown. In short historical notes characterising the respective periods, the prerequisites for introduction of dirks, as a weaponry item of the Bulgarian officer, are highlighted. Regulatory acts are quoted, whereby the institutional significance of state structures, where dirks have been introduced, is emphasised. The used documentary sources and references, as a basis for future studies, are shown. Reviewers of the book are Hristo Dermendzhiev - correspondent of the World Heraldry Academy, the British Heraldry Academy, and the International Institute of Order Sciences, and Aleksandar Vachkov - an artist, a researcher of Bulgarian military uniforms.

The book consists of an introduction, five chapters, and a conclusion.

The introduction covers the matters of the necessity, aims, scope, and methods of the study. The most important addresses of the study - the collectors, antique dealers, armourers, historians, and museum workers, as well as the employees in the Bulgarian troops and police, and the members of the patriotic public organisations as well, are shown. The exceptional beauty of dirks made mainly in the most prestigious world centre of cold-arms

The first chapter covers the general information about dirks. In it, historical notes about their emergence in 16th century in their capacity of cold-arms for boarding fighting, and their development until these days are included. Down the ages, the functionality of dirks gradually gave place to showiness, decorativeness, and artistic ornaments. Conditional classification of dirks depending on their purpose has been made: military, hunting and for government officials (clerks), which have gain widest currency in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Prussia, Austria-Hungary, England, Russia, and Germany. Special attention has been paid to use of dirks as a prize for heroism and bravery shown in wars, or as a valuable present in connection with memorable events from the history or the private life of the respective person. Traditional awarding of cold-arms, including dirks, in Russia and their relation to the orders of St. George and St. Anna, in Prussia, France, and Germany, as well as in Bulgaria, has been studied. In a special section, the emergence and development of some of the most famous world arms centres and works for production of cold-arms have been treated. In Germany - Nurnberg, Munich, and Solingen, as well as Amberg, Oberndorf, and Schmalkalden; in Russia - the Moscow Armoury, and the state-owned Tula and Sestroretsk works, and later the town of Zlatoust; in Spain - Toledo; in England - London, Enfield and Birmingham; and in France - Saint-Etienne, Paris, Chatellerault, Strasbourg, etc.
The second chapter refers to the so-called "royal" dirks in the Bulgarian troops in the first period studied (1879-1944). The influence of Russia and Germany for the introduction and use of dirks and the respective regulatory framework have been highlighted. The relation between socioeconomic situation in the country, external influence, and public needs that have necessitated the adoption of dirks as a weaponry item of the Bulgarian officer have been emphasised. It is shown that army surgeons and veterinarians are the first officers to whom a dirk was awarded in 1883. In 1905, a dirk was awarded to the Navy officers, and in 1930 - to the Aviation officers. In the period until 1938, dirks were awarded to the Army and Labour Service officers, and last - to the non-commissioned officers and soldiers from the Royal Military Symphony Orchestra. Dirks have been studied in detail, with their appearance, size, way of manufacturing, symbols, and decoration of dirks and scabbards being described. Varieties of the individual types have been established, and the differences between them have been stressed. Rich illustrations of colour photographs of dirks and their characteristic elements, as well as graphic images of stamps, signs and marks of the manufacturing companies from Solingen, Germany, have been provided.

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The third chapter covers the same historical period, but refers to structures subordinate to the Ministry of Interior, and concerns the dirks of the police, gendarmerie, and Fire Service. Dirks for them were introduced in the 30’s of 20th c., at the same time as those of the Army and Labour Service. The approach in studying and describing dirks is analogous to the one highlighted in chapter two.

The fourth chapter concerns the dirks of generals and officers of the Bulgarian Army and Navy in the second period studied (09.09.1944-10.11.1989), and covers the so-called "socialist" dirks, The continuity of the tradition of the officers carrying dirks has been emphasised. The regulatory acts whereby the dirks are introduced, their description, and types of uniforms - parade and dress, on which they are carried, have been shown. Dirks were introduced officially in 1951, but virtually the officers obtained them as late as in 1957. Detailed study through photographing, measurement, and description of the two types of dirks from that period - all-army and naval, has been carried out. Their common and individual features, symbols, and decoration of the grip, crossguard, and scabbard have been underlined. The differences in the ways of carrying, hangers, and their symbols have been emphasised.

The fifth chapter includes the dirks of the officers from the system of the Ministry of Interior: State Security;
Border Troops; National Militia; Fire Service, and Internal Troops, in the above-mentioned second period. Their dirk is identical with the all-army one, and the requirements to the way of carrying it are the same as tor the generals and officers of the troops. That is why the presentation is relatively short, and the author refers to the research carried out and descriptions made in chapter four.

In the conclusion, the public significance of the study, and the relation of the information provided to collection of objects on the subject of militaria have been emphasised. It is highlighted that the officers’ dirks are a sign of special privilege, awarding, and distinguishing those citizens who have dedicated their life to protection of the frontiers, internal security, and public security of the Fatherland. It is shown that at the end of the first period, for a very short time, in Bulgaria, except for the officers of the troops and police, dirks were also possessed by the commanders of the "Brannik" (defender) state youth organisation established on the analogy of Hitlerjugend in Germany. Finally, information about forthcoming adoption of new models of dirks for the generals and officers of the Bulgarian Troops and the Ministry of Interior is provided. To continue the tradition, basic elements of the "royal" dirks, combined with the new symbolism of the branches of troops and of the internal security and public order forces, have been woven into their design. The author of the book and one of the reviewers - Hr. Dermendzhiev, are members of the panel of authors who submits the designs.

The book ends with a short glossary of basic terms used in description of dirks. A list of the sources and references used is attached.


1. Necessity and aims of the study
2. Scope and methods of the study

Section I. Historical notes
Section II. Types of dirks
1. Military dirks
2. Hunting dirks
3. Dirks of government officials (clerks)
4. Dirks- prize and present
Section III. World centres of cold-arms

Section I. Historical prerequisites for introduction of dirks as a weaponry item of the Bulgarian officer
Section II. Type of dirks
1. Dirk of the Navy
2. Dirk of the Air Force
3. Dirk of the Army
4. Dirk of the medical officers
5. Dirk of the Labour Service
6. Dirk of the Royal Military Symphony Orchestra

Section I. Prerequisites for introduction of dirks
Section II. Type of dirks
1. Dirk of the police
2. Dirk of the gendarmerie
3. Dirk of the Fire Service

Section I. Continuity of the tradition
Section II. Type of dirks
1. Dirk of the Navy
2. All-army dirk

Section I. Interruption and continuity of the tradition
Section II. Dirks of the National Militia, Border Troops, State Security, Fire Service, and Internal Troops





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