Today In History
“Tulip mania” ends on this day in 1637 as the market for the suddenly and incredibly popular flower collapses, essentially in a single day, with dealers unable to find any buyers.
Tulips are still hot in The Netherlands, but not even close to the way it was in 1636 and 1637. Newly introduced via trade from Turkey, the beautiful plants became Europe’s go-to status symbol. Especially in demand were “broken” tulips — flowers infected with a virus that creates vivid and unique color patterns. But infected plants grow slowly and can’t really be propagated beyond the initial plant and three or four “daughters.” Further, tulips — even normal tulips — take at least seven years to grow. Thus, a futures market was created.
Speculators entered the market — fueled by French demand — and at its peak, 40 bulbs of the Viceroy tulip were fetching 100,000 florin (by way of comparison, the average wage at the time was 300 florin annually).
Bulbs — all unseen and some not even cultivated yet — were trading 10 and 12 times a day until suddenly, people stopped showing up to the auctions and a drastic market correction followed.
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