History of the tulip market
Tulips are a great, inexpensive way to add color to your spring garden; Learn how they gained popularity.
To add color to your spring gardens on the cheap, look no further than tulips! You can usually buy tulip bulbs for about a dollar or two each. Some of the varieties are a little more luxurious. Still, this is a bargain for the happiness they will bring to your spring! But do you know the history of this beautiful flower? This article will share a few rich records beyond the tulip.
Tulips were introduced to Europe by the Emperor to the Sultan of Turkey, who sent the first bulbs to Vienna in 1554. Their popularity increased, especially after 1593, when the Flemish botanist Carolus Clausius planted a group of bulbs and they proved to be tolerant of extremely harsh conditions. . The tulip’s popularity quickly grew throughout Europe.
Tulips became a luxury item and many varieties were introduced. Varieties were classified and the most sought after and most valuable tulips were the striped tulips, especially yellow or white stripes on a red or purple background. The flame-like tulips were in great demand. Interestingly, the streaks or “flames” in the tulip petals were caused by a virus. The virus is tulip cracking virus or tulip mosaic virus.
Prices of precious tulips infected with the virus have risen steadily. By 1634, the demand for tulips was incredibly high and tulip merchants were in a frenzy. This became known in the botanical world as “tulipomania.” Tulip mania reached its peak in the winter of 1636 and 1637 when bulbs were traded at an increasing rate, but the precious bulbs were never delivered.
Before the crash, many people gained and lost enormous amounts of wealth due to the tulip trade. There is one report in 1635 of the sale of 40 tulip bulbs purchased for 100,000 florins. In comparison, a ton of butter costs about 100 florins. A skilled worker might earn 150 florins a year; Eight fat pigs cost 240 florins. Many people would invest an entire year or more’s profits into buying a few precious tulip bulbs. Like any market when the market goes down, it goes down hard. The tulip mania left many tulip dealers with unsold tulip bulbs and mounting debt.
Fortunately for us, tulips are still very popular, and there are new varieties developed and marketed every year to keep our gardens on the cutting edge of tulips. For a fraction of the cost of a cup of coffee, you can enjoy these gorgeous bulbs in your spring garden.
For more on the topic of tulipomania, there are many good books. You can also use a resource from the University of Chicago, “The Tulip Craze Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age” by Anne Goldjaer, to learn more about this wonderful time in the story of tulips.