Tulips came to Holland in 1594 from Persia and Asia. They caused a storm because
people loved their gardens and this was something flowery and new. As a
consequence there was a huge demand for tulips. They became a status symbol.
Demand vastly exceeded supply and the price for tulips rocketed. Botanists
created beautiful hybrids of bulbs which made them even more desirable. A virus
(the mosaic) made the bulbs petals have a flame effect which increased their
It is said that someone traded:
a silver drinking cup, four cows, 8000 lbs of wheat, twelve sheep, 16000 lbs of rye, eight pigs, two hogsheads of wine, four casks of beer, two tons of butter, a suit of clothes and a bed for one Viceroy tulip bulb.
It is said that some bulbs were being bought and sold ten times in one day!
"Tulipmania" had started. People started selling their houses, their livestock and even their businesses in order to buy even just one of these bulbs! Almost everyone in Holland got caught up in this fever even chimney sweeps! Records show that in just one month the price of a bulb went up twenty fold!
However shortly after, the crash occurred: at an auction a bulb did not sell in the usual way. People began to realise that the price for bulbs couldn’t keep going up. This caused a huge panic and very soon the value of bulbs tumbled. Merchants became beggars. Tulips became very difficult to sell - they were no longer an asset. The government was very reluctant to interfere - in the end it had to as the country was going to collapse. It took many years for the country to recover.