Tulip mania Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong

Tulip mania Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong

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1637 Tulipmania

In the 17th century, the tulip, one of the Netherland’s national symbols, was subject to a veritable mania that led directly to it being traded on the stock market.


Costly flowers

Flower pyramid of Delft earthenware. Delft, c. 1700

Flower pyramid of Delft earthenware. Delft, c. 1700

Floral still life. Hans Bollongier, 1639

Floral still life. Hans Bollongier, 1639

Tulips, which came from Turkey, were introduced into the Netherlands in the 16th century. These exotic flowers were greatly admired and numerous species were meticulously recorded, along with their Latin names, in tulip albums. Tulips also often played a prominent role in painted floral still lifes.

In the course of the 17th century, special vases were even designed for tulips. They were usually round with small spouted openings on the top; sometimes the vases had more extravagant shapes. Each opening could hold only a single flower. The full bunches of tulips found nowadays were unimaginable in earlier times. Tulips were extremely expensive and sold individually.




Twee tulpen, blad in het Tulpenboek van Jacob Marrel, 1637-1645

Twee tulpen, blad in het Tulpenboek van Jacob Marrel, 1637-1645

Twee tulpen, een schelp, een vlinder en een libel, blad in het Tulpenboek van Jacob Marrel, 1637-1645

Twee tulpen, een schelp, een vlinder en een libel, blad in het Tulpenboek van Jacob Marrel, 1637-1645

Twee tulpen, een schelp en een sprinkhaan, blad in het Tulpenboek van Jacob Marrel, 1637-1645

Twee tulpen, een schelp en een sprinkhaan, blad in het Tulpenboek van Jacob Marrel, 1637-1645

Tulp, twee takken mirte en twee schelpen. Maria Sibylla Merian, ca. 1660-1700

Tulp, twee takken mirte en twee schelpen. Maria Sibylla Merian, ca. 1660-1700

The tulip’s popularity reached unprecedented, even excessive, heights, in the 1630s. This gave rise to a veritable tulipmania, which held many Dutchmen in its grip in 1636 and 1637. If the flower had initially roused largely scientific interest, from around 1630 on tulips became attractive financially. Tulips and tulip bulbs were bought and sold actively, frantically in fact, and this trade deteriorated into speculation in 1637. Countless people jumped on the bandwagon buying options they could pay later, some even putting up their homes as collateral. The market crashed suddenly in February 1637; prices plummeted and many investors were left penniless.



Flora's Mallewagen. Spotprent op de tulpenhandel van 1637. Toegeschreven aan Crispijn van de Passe II, 1637

Flora’s Mallewagen. Spotprent op de tulpenhandel van 1637. Toegeschreven aan Crispijn van de Passe II, 1637

Floraes Gecks-kap. Spotprent op de tulpenhandel van 1637. Pieter Nolpe, 1637

Floraes Gecks-kap. Spotprent op de tulpenhandel van 1637. Pieter Nolpe, 1637

The people who speculated in tulips and tulip bulbs were the object of ridicule in countless pamphlets and prints. After all, vast sums were involved. Yet this way of doing business existed already in the 16th century, for instance in the grain trade. This was called grain futures, which is a polite word for speculation. Futures trading is still current; our present-day options exchange continues to work with a form of futures.

While interest in tulips remained undiminished after the crash in 1637, the market was no longer rife with excess and prices dropped to a more reasonable level. Tulips never lost their popularity, and growers in the west of Holland have continued to develop new varieties to this very day.

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Tulip Mania

European history
Written By:

  • The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
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Alternative Titles:
Tulip Craze, Tulpenwindhandel

Tulip Mania, also called Tulip Craze, Dutch Tulpenwindhandel, a speculative frenzy in 17th-century Holland over the sale of tulip bulbs. Tulips were introduced into Europe from Turkey shortly after 1550, and the delicately formed, vividly coloured flowers became a popular if costly item. The demand for differently coloured varieties of tulips soon exceeded the supply, and prices for individual bulbs of rare types began to rise to unwarranted heights in northern Europe. By about 1610 a single bulb of a new variety was acceptable as dowry for a bride, and a flourishing brewery in France was exchanged for one bulb of the variety Tulipe Brasserie. The craze reached its height in Holland during 1633–37. Before 1633 Holland’s tulip trade had been restricted to professional growers and experts, but the steadily rising prices tempted many ordinary middle-class and poor families to speculate in the tulip market. Homes, estates, and industries were mortgaged so that bulbs could be bought for resale at higher prices. Sales and resales were made many times over without the bulbs ever leaving the ground, and rare varieties of bulbs sold for the equivalent of hundreds of dollars each. The crash came early in 1637, when doubts arose as to whether prices would continue to increase. Almost overnight the price structure for tulips collapsed, sweeping away fortunes and leaving behind financial ruin for many ordinary Dutch families.

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    Tulip mania

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    “Tulip fever” redirects here. For the film set during the period of tulip mania, see Tulip Fever .

    A tulip, known as “the Viceroy” (viseroij), displayed in the 1637 Dutch catalog Verzameling van een Meenigte Tulipaanen. Its bulb was offered for sale between 3,000 and 4,200 guilders (florins) depending on size (aase). A skilled craftsworker at the time earned about 300 guilders a year. [1]

    Tulip mania ( Dutch : tulpenmanie) was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. [2] It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble ; [3] although some researchers have noted that the Kipper und Wipper (literally “Tipper and See-Saw”) episode in 1619–1622, a Europe-wide chain of debasement of the metal content of coins to fund warfare, featured mania-like similarities to a bubble. [4] In many ways, the tulip mania was more of a hitherto unknown socio-economic phenomenon than a significant economic crisis . Historically, it had no critical influence on the prosperity of the Dutch Republic , the world’s leading economic and financial power in the 17th century . [5] [6] [7] Also, from about 1600 to 1720 the Dutch had the highest per capita income in the world. The term “tulip mania” is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values . [8]

    In Europe, formal futures markets appeared in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century. Among the most notable centered on the tulip market, at the height of tulip mania. [9] [10] At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsworker . Research is difficult because of the limited economic data from the 1630s, much of which come from biased and speculative sources. [11] [12] Some modern economists have proposed rational explanations, rather than a speculative mania, for the rise and fall in prices. For example, other flowers, such as the hyacinth , also had high initial prices at the time of their introduction, which immediately fell. The high asset prices may also have been driven by expectations of a parliamentary decree that contracts could be voided for a small cost, thus lowering the risk to buyers.

    The 1637 event was popularized in 1841 by the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds , written by British journalist Charles Mackay . At one point 12 acres (5 ha ) of land were offered for a Semper Augustus bulb. [13] Mackay claims that many such investors were ruined by the fall in prices, and Dutch commerce suffered a severe shock. Although Mackay’s book is a classic, his account is contested. Many modern scholars feel that the mania was not as extraordinary as Mackay described and argue that not enough price data are available to prove that a tulip-bulb bubble actually occurred. [14] [15] [16] [17]


    • 1 History
    • 2 Available price data
    • 3 Mackay’s Madness of Crowds
    • 4 Modern views
      • 4.1 Rational explanations
      • 4.2 Natural volatility in flower prices
        • 4.2.1 Critiques
      • 4.3 Legal changes
    • 5 Social mania and legacy
    • 6 See also
    • 7 Notes
    • 8 References
    • 9 External links

    History[ edit ]

    A Satire of Tulip Mania by Jan Brueghel the Younger (ca. 1640) depicts speculators as brainless monkeys in contemporary upper-class dress. In a commentary on the economic folly, one monkey urinates on the previously valuable plants, others appear in debtor’s court and one is carried to the grave.

    The introduction of the tulip to Europe is usually attributed to Ogier de Busbecq , the ambassador of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor , to the Sultan of Turkey, who sent the first tulip bulbs and seeds to Vienna in 1554 from the Ottoman Empire . [18] Tulip bulbs were soon distributed from Vienna to Augsburg , Antwerp and Amsterdam . [19] Its popularity and cultivation in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) [20] is generally thought to have started in earnest around 1593 after the Southern Netherlandish botanist Carolus Clusius had taken up a post at the University of Leiden and established the hortus academicus . [21] He planted his collection of tulip bulbs and found they were able to tolerate the harsher conditions of the Low Countries ; [22] shortly thereafter the tulip began to grow in popularity. [23]

    The tulip was different from every other flower known to Europe at that time, with a saturated intense petal color that no other plant had. The appearance of the nonpareil tulip as a status symbol at this time coincides with the rise of newly independent Holland’s trade fortunes. No longer the Spanish Netherlands , its economic resources could now be channeled into commerce and the country embarked on its Golden Age . Amsterdam merchants were at the center of the lucrative East Indies trade , where one voyage could yield profits of 400%. [24]

    Anonymous 17th-century watercolor of the Semper Augustus, famous for being the most expensive tulip sold during tulip mania.

    As a result, tulips rapidly became a coveted luxury item, and a profusion of varieties followed. They were classified in groups: the single-hued tulips of red, yellow, or white were known as Couleren; the multicolored Rosen (white streaks on a red or pink background); Violetten (white streaks on a purple or lilac background); and the rarest of all, the Bizarden (Bizarres), (yellow or white streaks on a red, brown or purple background). [25] The multicolor effects of intricate lines and flame-like streaks on the petals were vivid and spectacular, making the bulbs that produced these even more exotic-looking plants highly sought-after. It is now known that this effect is due to the bulbs being infected with a type of tulip-specific mosaic virus , known as the ” Tulip breaking virus “, so called because it “breaks” the one petal color into two or more. [26] [27]

    Growers named their new varieties with exalted titles. Many early forms were prefixed Admirael (“admiral”), often combined with the growers’ names: Admirael van der Eijck, for example, was perhaps the most highly regarded of about fifty so named. Generael (“general”) was another prefix used for around thirty varieties. Later varieties were given even more extravagant names, derived from Alexander the Great or Scipio , or even “Admiral of Admirals” and “General of Generals”. Naming could be haphazard and varieties highly variable in quality. [28] Most of these varieties have now died out. [29]

    Tulips grow from bulbs, and can be propagated through both seeds and buds. Seeds from a tulip will form a flowering bulb after 7–12 years. When a bulb grows into the flower, the original bulb will disappear, but a clone bulb forms in its place, as do several buds. Properly cultivated, these buds will become bulbs of their own. The mosaic virus spreads only through buds, not seeds, and so cultivating the most appealing varieties takes years. Propagation is greatly slowed down by the virus. In the Northern Hemisphere, tulips bloom in April and May for about one week. During the plant’s dormant phase from (Northern Hemisphere) June to September, bulbs can be uprooted and moved about, so actual purchases (in the spot market ) occurred during these months. [30] During the rest of the year, florists, or tulip traders, signed contracts before a notary to buy tulips at the end of the season (effectively futures contracts ). [30] Thus the Dutch, who developed many of the techniques of modern finance, created a market for tulip bulbs, which were durable goods . [20] Short selling was banned by an edict of 1610, which was reiterated or strengthened in 1621 and 1630, and again in 1636. Short sellers were not prosecuted under these edicts, but futures contracts were deemed unenforceable, so traders could repudiate deals if faced with a loss. [31]

    Wagon of Fools by Hendrik Gerritsz Pot , 1637. Followed by Haarlem weavers who have abandoned their looms, blown by the wind and flying a flag emblazoned with tulips, Flora , goddess of flowers, her arms laden with tulips, rides to their destruction in the sea along with tipplers, money changers and the two-faced goddess Fortuna.

    A standardized price index for tulip bulb contracts, created by Earl Thompson. Thompson had no price data between February 9 and May 1, thus the shape of the decline is unknown. The tulip market is known to have collapsed abruptly in February. [32]

    As the flowers grew in popularity, professional growers paid higher and higher prices for bulbs with the virus, and prices rose steadily. By 1634, in part as a result of demand from the French, speculators began to enter the market. [33] The contract price of rare bulbs continued to rise throughout 1636, but by November, the price of common, “unbroken” bulbs also began to increase, so that soon any tulip bulb could fetch hundreds of guilders. That year the Dutch created a type of formal futures market where contracts to buy bulbs at the end of the season were bought and sold. Traders met in “colleges” at taverns and buyers were required to pay a 2.5% “wine money” fee, up to a maximum of three guilders per trade. Neither party paid an initial margin nor a mark-to-market margin, and all contracts were with the individual counter-parties rather than with the Exchange. The Dutch described tulip contract trading as windhandel (literally “wind trade”), because no bulbs were actually changing hands. The entire business was accomplished on the margins of Dutch economic life, not in the Exchange itself. [34]

    By 1636, the tulip bulb became the fourth leading export product of the Netherlands, after gin, herrings and cheese. The price of tulips skyrocketed because of speculation in tulip futures among people who never saw the bulbs. Many men made and lost fortunes overnight. [35]

    Tulip mania reached its peak during the winter of 1636–37, when some bulbs were reportedly changing hands ten times in a day. No deliveries were ever made to fulfil any of these contracts, because in February 1637, tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt. [36] The collapse began in Haarlem , when, for the first time, buyers apparently refused to show up at a routine bulb auction. This may have been because Haarlem was then at the height of an outbreak of bubonic plague . The existence of the plague may have helped create a culture of fatalistic risk-taking that allowed the speculation to skyrocket in the first place; [37] this outbreak might also have helped to burst the bubble. [38]

    Available price data[ edit ]

    The lack of consistently recorded price data from the 1630s makes the extent of the tulip mania difficult to discern. The bulk of available data comes from anti-speculative pamphlets by “Gaergoedt and Warmondt” (GW) written just after the bubble. Economist Peter Garber collected data on the sales of 161 bulbs of 39 varieties between 1633 and 1637, with 53 being recorded by GW. Ninety-eight sales were recorded for the last date of the bubble, February 5, 1637, at wildly varying prices. The sales were made using several market mechanisms: futures trading at the colleges, spot sales by growers, notarized futures sales by growers, and estate sales. “To a great extent, the available price data are a blend of apples and oranges “, according to Garber. [39]

    Mackay’s Madness of Crowds[ edit ]

    Basket of goods allegedly exchanged for a single bulb of the Viceroy [40]
    Two lasts of wheat448 ƒ
    Four lasts of rye558 ƒ
    Four fat oxen480 ƒ
    Eight fat swine240 ƒ
    Twelve fat sheep120 ƒ
    Two hogsheads of wine70 ƒ
    Four tuns of beer32 ƒ
    Two tuns of butter192 ƒ
    1,000 lbs. of cheese120 ƒ
    A complete bed100 ƒ
    A suit of clothes80 ƒ
    A silver drinking cup60 ƒ
    Total2500 ƒ

    The modern discussion of tulip mania began with the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds , published in 1841 by the Scottish journalist Charles Mackay ; he proposed that crowds of people often behave irrationally, and tulip mania was, along with the South Sea Bubble and the Mississippi Company scheme, one of his primary examples. His account was largely sourced from a 1797 work by Johann Beckmann titled A History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins. [14] In fact, Beckmann’s account, and thus Mackay’s by derivation, was primarily sourced to three anonymous pamphlets published in 1637 with an anti-speculative agenda. [41] Mackay’s vivid book was popular among generations of economists and stock market participants. His popular but flawed description of tulip mania as a speculative bubble remains prominent, even though since the 1980s economists have debunked many aspects of his account. [41]

    According to Mackay, the growing popularity of tulips in the early 17th century caught the attention of the entire nation; “the population, even to its lowest dregs, embarked in the tulip trade”. [13] By 1635, a sale of 40 bulbs for 100,000 florins (also known as Dutch guilders ) was recorded. By way of comparison, a ton of butter cost around 100 florins, a skilled laborer might earn 150–350 florins a year, and “eight fat swine” cost 240 florins. [13] According to the International Institute of Social History , one florin in 1637 had the purchasing power of € 11.51 in 2016.

    By 1636, tulips were traded on the exchanges of numerous Dutch towns and cities. This encouraged trading in tulips by all members of society; Mackay recounted people selling or trading their other possessions in order to speculate in the tulip market, such as an offer of 12 acres (49,000 m2) of land for one of two existing Semper Augustus bulbs, or a single bulb of the Viceroy that, Mackay claimed, was purchased in exchange for a basket of goods (shown in table) worth 2,500 florins. [40]

    Many individuals grew suddenly rich. A golden bait hung temptingly out before the people, and, one after the other, they rushed to the tulip marts, like flies around a honey-pot. Every one imagined that the passion for tulips would last for ever, and that the wealthy from every part of the world would send to Holland, and pay whatever prices were asked for them. The riches of Europe would be concentrated on the shores of the Zuyder Zee, and poverty banished from the favoured clime of Holland. Nobles, citizens, farmers, mechanics, seamen, footmen, maidservants, even chimney sweeps and old clotheswomen, dabbled in tulips. [13]

    Pamphlet from the Dutch tulipomania, printed in 1637

    The increasing mania generated several amusing, if unlikely, anecdotes that Mackay recounted, such as a sailor who mistook the valuable tulip bulb of a merchant for an onion and grabbed it to eat. According to Mackay, the merchant and his family chased the sailor to find him “eating a breakfast whose cost might have regaled a whole ship’s crew for a twelvemonth”; the sailor was jailed for eating the bulb. [13] In fact, tulips are poisonous if prepared incorrectly, taste bad, and are considered to be only marginally edible even during famines. [42]

    People were purchasing bulbs at higher and higher prices, intending to re-sell them for a profit. Such a scheme could not last unless someone was ultimately willing to pay such high prices and take possession of the bulbs. In February 1637, tulip traders could no longer find new buyers willing to pay increasingly inflated prices for their bulbs. As this realization set in, the demand for tulips collapsed, and prices plummeted—the speculative bubble burst. Some were left holding contracts to purchase tulips at prices now ten times greater than those on the open market, while others found themselves in possession of bulbs now worth a fraction of the price they had paid. Mackay claims the Dutch devolved into distressed accusations and recriminations against others in the trade. [13]

    In Mackay’s account, the panicked tulip speculators sought help from the government of the Netherlands, which responded by declaring that anyone who had bought contracts to purchase bulbs in the future could void their contract by payment of a 10 percent fee. Attempts were made to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of all parties, but these were unsuccessful. The mania finally ended, Mackay says, with individuals stuck with the bulbs they held at the end of the crash—no court would enforce payment of a contract, since judges regarded the debts as contracted through gambling, and thus not enforceable by law. [13]

    According to Mackay, lesser tulip manias also occurred in other parts of Europe, although matters never reached the state they had in the Netherlands. He also claimed that the aftermath of the tulip price deflation led to a widespread economic chill throughout the Netherlands for many years afterwards. [13]

    Modern views[ edit ]

    Mackay’s account of inexplicable mania was unchallenged, and mostly unexamined, until the 1980s. [43] Research into tulip mania since then, especially by proponents of the efficient-market hypothesis , [17] suggests that his story was incomplete and inaccurate. In her 2007 scholarly analysis Tulipmania, Anne Goldgar states that the phenomenon was limited to “a fairly small group”, and that most accounts from the period “are based on one or two contemporary pieces of propaganda and a prodigious amount of plagiarism “. [11] Peter Garber argues that the trade in common bulbs “was no more than a meaningless winter drinking game, played by a plague-ridden population that made use of the vibrant tulip market.” [44]

    While Mackay’s account held that a wide array of society was involved in the tulip trade, Goldgar’s study of archived contracts found that even at its peak the trade in tulips was conducted almost exclusively by merchants and skilled craftsmen who were wealthy, but not members of the nobility. [45] Any economic fallout from the bubble was very limited. Goldgar, who identified many prominent buyers and sellers in the market, found fewer than half a dozen who experienced financial troubles in the time period, and even of these cases it is not clear that tulips were to blame. [46] This is not altogether surprising. Although prices had risen, money had not changed hands between buyers and sellers. Thus profits were never realized for sellers; unless sellers had made other purchases on credit in expectation of the profits, the collapse in prices did not cause anyone to lose money. [47]

    Rational explanations[ edit ]

    There is no dispute that prices for tulip bulb contracts rose and then fell in 1636–37, but even a dramatic rise and fall in prices does not necessarily mean that an economic or speculative bubble developed and then burst. For tulip mania to have qualified as an economic bubble, the price of tulip bulbs would need to have become unhinged from the intrinsic value of the bulbs. Modern economists have advanced several possible reasons for why the rise and fall in prices may not have constituted a bubble, even though a Viceroy Tulip was worth upwards of five times the cost of an average house at the time. [48]

    The increases of the 1630s corresponded with a lull in the Thirty Years’ War . [49] In 1634/5 the German and Swedish armies lost ground in the South of Germany; then Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria moved north. After the Peace of Prague the French (and the Dutch) decided to support the Swedish and German protestants with money and arms against the Habsburg empire, and to occupy the Spanish Netherlands in 1636. Hence market prices (at least initially) were responding rationally to a rise in demand. The fall in prices was faster and more dramatic than the rise. Data on sales largely disappeared after the February 1637 collapse in prices, but a few other data points on bulb prices after tulip mania show that bulbs continued to lose value for decades thereafter.

    Natural volatility in flower prices[ edit ]

    Garber compared the available price data on tulips to hyacinth prices at the beginning of the 19th century—when the hyacinth replaced the tulip as the fashionable flower—and found a similar pattern. When hyacinths were introduced florists strove with one another to grow beautiful hyacinth flowers, as demand was strong. As people became more accustomed to hyacinths the prices began to fall. The most expensive bulbs fell to 1 to 2 percent of their peak value within 30 years. [50] Garber also notes that, “a small quantity of prototype lily bulbs recently was sold for 1 million guilders ($US480,000 at 1987 exchange rates)”, demonstrating that even in the modern world, flowers can command extremely high prices. [51] Because the rise in prices occurred after bulbs were planted for the year, growers would not have had an opportunity to increase production in response to price. [52]

    Critiques[ edit ]

    Other economists believe that these elements cannot completely explain the dramatic rise and fall in tulip prices. [53] Garber’s theory has also been challenged for failing to explain a similar dramatic rise and fall in prices for regular tulip bulb contracts. [8] Some economists also point to other factors associated with speculative bubbles, such as a growth in the supply of money , demonstrated by an increase in deposits at the Bank of Amsterdam during that period. [54]

    Legal changes[ edit ]

    Admirael van der Eijck from the 1637 catalog of P.Cos., sold for 1045 guilders on February 5, 1637

    Earl Thompson argued in a 2007 paper that Garber’s explanation cannot account for the extremely swift drop in tulip bulb contract prices. The annualized rate of price decline was 99.999%, instead of the average 40% for other flowers. [48] He provided another explanation for Dutch tulip mania. The Dutch parliament had, since late 1636, been considering a decree (originally sponsored by Dutch tulip investors who had lost money because of a German setback in the Thirty Years’ War [55] ) that changed the way tulip contracts functioned:

    On February 24, 1637, the self-regulating guild of Dutch florists, in a decision that was later ratified by the Dutch Parliament, announced that all futures contracts written after November 30, 1636, and before the re-opening of the cash market in the early Spring, were to be interpreted as option contracts. They did this by simply relieving the futures buyers of the obligation to buy the future tulips, forcing them merely to compensate the sellers with a small fixed percentage of the contract price. [56]

    Before this parliamentary decree, the purchaser of a tulip contract—known in modern finance as a forward contract —was legally obliged to buy the bulbs. The decree changed the nature of these contracts, so that if the current market price fell, the purchaser could opt to pay a penalty and forgo receipt of the bulb, rather than pay the full contracted price. This change in law meant that, in modern terminology, the futures contracts had been transformed into options contracts —contracts which were extremely favorable to the buyers.

    Thompson argues that the “bubble” in the price of tulip bulb futures prior to the February 1637 decree was due primarily to buyers’ awareness of what was coming. Although the final 3.5% strike price was not actually settled until February 24, Thompson writes, “as information … entered the market in late November, contract prices soared to reflect the expectation that the contract price was now a call-option exercise, or strike, price rather than a price committed to be paid.” [56] Thompson concludes that “the real victims of the contractual conversion” were the investors who had bought futures contracts prior to November 30, 1636, on the incorrect assumption that their contracts would benefit from the February 1637 decree. [56] In other words, many investors were making an “additional gamble with respect to the prices the buyers would eventually have to pay for their options” [57] —a factor unrelated to the intrinsic value of the tulip bulbs themselves.

    Using data about the specific payoffs present in the futures and options contracts, Thompson argued that tulip bulb contract prices hewed closely to what a rational economic model would dictate: “Tulip contract prices before, during, and after the ‘tulipmania’ appear to provide a remarkable illustration of efficient market prices.” [57]

    Social mania and legacy[ edit ]

    A modern-day field of tulips in the Netherlands —tulips remain a popular symbol of the Netherlands.

    The popularity of Mackay’s tale has continued to this day, with new editions of Extraordinary Popular Delusions appearing regularly, with introductions by writers such as financier Bernard Baruch (1932), financial writer Andrew Tobias (1980), [58] psychologist David J. Schneider (1993), and journalist Michael Lewis (2008). At least six editions are currently in print.

    Goldgar argues that although tulip mania may not have constituted an economic or speculative bubble, it was nonetheless traumatic to the Dutch for other reasons. “Even though the financial crisis affected very few, the shock of tulipmania was considerable. A whole network of values was thrown into doubt.” [59] In the 17th century, it was unimaginable to most people that something as common as a flower could be worth so much more money than most people earned in a year. The idea that the prices of flowers that grow only in the summer could fluctuate so wildly in the winter, threw into chaos the very understanding of “value”. [60]

    Still Life with Flowers by Hans Bollongier (1623–1672) painted in 1639 showcasing the prized Semper Augustus tulip.

    Many of the sources telling of the woes of tulip mania, such as the anti-speculative pamphlets that were later reported by Beckmann and Mackay, have been cited as evidence of the extent of the economic damage. These pamphlets were not written by victims of a bubble, but were primarily religiously motivated. The upheaval was viewed as a perversion of the moral order—proof that “concentration on the earthly, rather than the heavenly flower could have dire consequences”. [61] Thus, it is possible that a relatively minor economic event took on a life of its own as a morality tale.

    Nearly a century later, during the crash of the Mississippi Company and the South Sea Company in about 1720, tulip mania appeared in satires of these manias. [62] When Johann Beckmann first described tulip mania in the 1780s, he compared it to the failing lotteries of the time. [63] In Goldgar’s view, even many modern popular works about financial markets, such as Burton Malkiel ‘s A Random Walk Down Wall Street (1973) and John Kenneth Galbraith ‘s A Short History of Financial Euphoria (1990; written soon after the crash of 1987 ), used the tulip mania as a lesson in morality. [64] [65] [66] Tulip mania again became a popular reference during the dot-com bubble of 1995–2001. [64]

    In the 21st century, journalists have compared it to failure of the speculative dot-com bubble [67] and the subprime mortgage crisis . [68] [69]
    In November 2013 Nout Wellink, former president of the Dutch Central Bank, described Bitcoin as “worse than the tulip mania,” adding, “At least then you got a tulip, now you get nothing.” [70]

    Despite the mania’s enduring popularity, Daniel Gross of Slate has said of economists offering efficient-market explanations for the mania, that “If they’re correct … then business writers will have to delete Tulipmania from their handy-pack of bubble analogies.” [71]

    See also[ edit ]

    • Greater fool theory
    • List of commodity booms
    • Orchidelirium – the Victorian era of flower madness when orchid collecting became a popular craze
    • Tulip period (1718–1730) – a tulip craze in the Ottoman Empire that symbolized the conflicts of early modern consumer culture

    Notes[ edit ]

    1. ^ Nusteling, H. (1985) Welvaart en Werkgelegenheid in Amsterdam 1540–1860, pp. 114, 252, 254, 258.
    2. ^ Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused. Mike Dash (2001).
    3. ^ Shiller 2005 , p. 85 More extensive discussion of status as the earliest bubble on pp. 247–48.
    4. ^ Kindleberger, Charles P. and Aliber, Robert (2005 [1978]), Manias, Panics and Crashes. A History of Financial Crises, New York,

      ISBN   0-465-04380-1 , p. 16.

    5. ^ In Karl Marx ‘s own words, “Its [17th-century Dutch Republic’s] fisheries, marine, manufactures, surpassed those of any other country. The total capital of the Republic was probably more important than that of all the rest of Europe put together.” ( Das Kapital )
    6. ^ Kaletsky, Anatole : Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis. (PublicAffairs, 2010), p. 109-110. Anatole Kaletsky : “The bursting of the tulip bubble in 1637 did not end Dutch economic hegemony. Far from it. Tulipmania was followed by a century of Dutch leadership in almost every branch of global commerce, finance, and manufacturing.”
    7. ^ Gieseking, Jen Jack; Mangold, William; et al.: The People, Place, and Space Reader. (Routledge, 2014, ISBN   9780415664974 ), p. 151. As Witold Rybczynski (1987) notes, the 17th-century Dutch Republic “had few natural resources—no mines, no forests—and what little land there was needed constant protection from the sea. But this “low” country surprisingly quickly established itself as a major power. In a short time it became the most advanced shipbuilding nation in the world and developed large naval, fishing, and merchant fleets. (…) The Netherlands introduced many financial innovations that made it a major economic force—and Amsterdam became the world center for international finance. Its manufacturing towns grew so quickly that by the middle of the century the Netherlands had supplanted France as the leading industrial nation of the world.”
    8. ^ a b French 2006 , p. 3
    9. ^ Chew, Donald H.: Corporate Risk Management. (Columbia University Press, 2008, ISBN   0231143621 )
    10. ^ Pavaskar, Madhoo: Commodity Derivatives Trading: Theory and Regulation. (Notion Press, 2016, ISBN   1945926228 )
    11. ^ a b Kuper, Simon ” Petal Power ” (Review of Goldgar 2007 ), Financial Times , May 12, 2007. Retrieved on July 1, 2008.
    12. ^ A pamphlet about the Dutch tulipomania Wageningen Digital Library, July 14, 2006. Retrieved on August 13, 2008.
    13. ^ a b c d e f g h “The Tulipomania”, Chapter 3, in Mackay 1841 .
    14. ^ a b Goldgar, Anne (2008). Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age. London: University of Chicago Press. pp. 5, 6. ISBN   9780226301303 .
    15. ^ Goldgar, Anne (12 Feb 2018), “Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong” , The Conversation, Boston, MA, retrieved 13 Feb 2018
    16. ^ Thompson 2007 , p. 99
    17. ^ a b Kindleberger & Aliber 2005 , p. 115
    18. ^ Panic, Prosperity, and Progress- Timothy Knight, p.1
    19. ^ Brunt, Alan; Walsh, John, “‘Broken’ tulips and Tulip breaking virus”, Microbiology Today , May 2005, p. 68.
    20. ^ a b Garber 1989 , p. 537
    21. ^ Dash 1999 , pp. 59–60
    22. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 32
    23. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 33
    24. ^ Ricklefs, M. C. (1991). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300, 2nd Edition. London: MacMillan. p. 27
    25. ^ Dash 1999 , p. 66
    26. ^ Phillips, S. ” Tulip breaking potyvirus Archived February 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine .”, in Brunt, A. A., Crabtree, K., Dallwitz, M. J., Gibbs, A. J., Watson, L. and Zurcher, E. J. (eds.) (1996 onwards). Plant Viruses Online: Descriptions and Lists from the VIDE Database. Version: August 20, 1996. Retrieved on August 15, 2008.
    27. ^ Garber 1989 , p. 542
    28. ^ Dash 1999 , pp. 106–07
    29. ^ Garber 2000 , p. 41
    30. ^ a b Garber 1989 , pp. 541–42
    31. ^ Garber 2000 , pp. 33–36
    32. ^ Thompson 2007 , pp. 101, 109–11
    33. ^ Garber 1989 , p. 543
    34. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 322
    35. ^ Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (1997) pp. 350–66 esp p. 362
    36. ^ Garber 1989 , pp. 543–44
    37. ^ De Vries 1976 , p. 226, quoted in Garber 2000 , p. 38
    38. ^ Garber 2000 , pp. 37–38, 44–47
    39. ^ Garber 2000 , pp. 49–59, 138–44
    40. ^ a b This basket of goods was actually exchanged for a bulb according to Chapter 3 of Mackay 1841 and also Schama 1987 , but Krelage (1942) and Garber 2000 , pp. 81–83 dispute this interpretation of the original source, an anonymous pamphlet, saying that the commodity bundle was clearly given only to demonstrate the value of the florin at the time.
    41. ^ a b Garber 1990 , p. 37
    42. ^ Deane, Green. “Tulips” . Eat the Weeds. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
    43. ^ Garber 1989 , p. 535
    44. ^ Garber 2000 , p. 81
    45. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 141
    46. ^ Goldgar 2007 , pp. 247–48
    47. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 233
    48. ^ a b Thompson 2007 , p. 100
    49. ^ Thompson 2007 , p. 103
    50. ^ Garber 1989 , pp. 553–54
    51. ^ Garber 1989 , p. 555
    52. ^ Garber 1989 , pp. 555–56
    53. ^ Kindleberger & Aliber 2005 , pp. 115–16
    54. ^ French 2006 , pp. 11–12
    55. ^ Thompson 2007 , pp. 103–104
    56. ^ a b c Thompson 2007 , p. 101
    57. ^ a b Thompson 2007 , p. 109
    58. ^ Introduction by Andrew Tobias to “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” (New York: Harmony Press, 1980) available on-line at Andrew Tobias, Money and Other Subjects Archived September 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine .. Retrieved on August 12, 2008
    59. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 18
    60. ^ Goldgar 2007 , pp. 276–77
    61. ^ Goldgar 2007 , pp. 260–61
    62. ^ Goldgar 2007 , pp. 307–09
    63. ^ Goldgar 2007 , p. 313
    64. ^ a b Goldgar 2007 , p. 314
    65. ^ Galbraith 1990 , p. 34
    66. ^ Malkiel 2007 , pp. 35–38
    67. ^ Frankel, Mark, “When the Tulip Bubble Burst”, Business Week , April 4, 2000.
    68. ^ ” Bubble and Bust; As the subprime mortgage market tanks, policymakers must keep their nerve “, The Washington Post , August 11, 2007. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
    69. ^ Horton, Scott. ” The Bubble Bursts “, Harper’s , January 27, 2008. Retrieved on July 17, 2008. Archived June 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine .
    70. ^
      ” Bitcoin hype worse than ‘tulip mania’, says Dutch central banker “, The Guardian , December 4, 2013.
    71. ^ Gross, Daniel . ” Bulb Bubble Trouble; That Dutch tulip bubble wasn’t so crazy after all “, Slate , July 16, 2004. Retrieved on November 4, 2011.

    References[ edit ]

    • Cos, Pieter (1637), Verzameling van een meenigte tulipaanen, naar het leven geteekend met hunne naamen, en swaarte der bollen, zoo als die publicq verkogt zijn, te Haarlem in den jaare A. 1637, door P. Cos, bloemist te Haarlem (in Dutch), Haarlem: [s.n.], 75 pl, retrieved August 11, 2008
    • Dash, Mike (1999), Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused , New York: Three Rivers Press , ISBN   978-0-307-56082-7
    • De Vries, Jan (1976), The Economy of Europe in an Age of Crisis, 1600–1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN   978-0521290500
    • French, Doug (2006), “The Dutch monetary environment during tulipomania” (PDF), The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics , 9 (1): 3–14, doi : 10.1007/s12113-006-1000-6 , retrieved June 24, 2008
    • Galbraith, J. K. (1990), A Short History of Financial Euphoria, New York: Penguin Books, ISBN   0-670-85028-4
    • Garber, Peter M. (1989), “Tulipmania”, Journal of Political Economy , 97 (3): 535–60, doi : 10.1086/261615
    • Garber, Peter M. (1990), “Famous First Bubbles”, The Journal of Economic Perspectives , The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 4, No. 2, 4 (2): 35–54, doi : 10.1257/jep.4.2.35 , JSTOR   1942889 , (Subscription required (help)).
    • Garber, Peter M. (2000), Famous First Bubbles: The Fundamentals of Early Manias, Cambridge: MIT Press, ISBN   0-262-07204-1
    • Goldgar, Anne (2007). Tulipmania: money, honor, and knowledge in the Dutch golden age . Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN   978-0-226-30125-9 . Retrieved February 21, 2015.
    • Hooper, William R. (April 1876), ” The Tulip Mania “, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine , 52 (340), pp. 743–46
    • Krelage, E. H. (1942), Bloemenspeculatie in Nederland, Amsterdam: P. N. van Kampen & Zoon
    • Kindleberger, Charles P. ; Aliber, Robert (2005), Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (5th ed.), Hoboken: Wiley, ISBN   0-471-46714-6
    • Mackay, Charles (1841), Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, London: Richard Bentley
    • Malkiel, Burton G. (2007), A Random Walk Down Wall Street (9th ed.), New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN   0-393-06245-7
    • Pavord, Anna (2007), The Tulip, London: Bloomsbury, ISBN   0-7475-7190-2
    • Pollan, Michael (2002), The Botany of Desire, New York: Random House, ISBN   0-375-76039-3
    • Schama, Simon (1987), The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age , New York: Alfred Knopf, ISBN   0-394-51075-5
    • Shiller, Robert J. (2005), Irrational Exuberance (2nd ed.), Princeton: Princeton University Press, ISBN   0-691-12335-7
    • Thompson, Earl (2007), “The tulipmania: Fact or artifact?” (PDF), Public Choice, 130 (1–2): 99–114, doi : 10.1007/s11127-006-9074-4 , retrieved August 15, 2008

    External links[ edit ]

    Wikisource has original text related to this article:

    The Tulip Mania
    • Wageningen Tulip Portal , an extensive collection of historical resources, including scanned images of 17th-century Dutch tulip books and pamphlets, from Wageningen UR Library
    • Charles Mackay’s The Madness of Crowds is available from Project Gutenberg
    • Tulipomania, part of the Encyclopædia Romana by James Grout.
    • Boissoneault, Lorraine (September 18, 2017). “There Never Was a Real Tulip Fever” . Smithsonian Magazine . Retrieved December 10, 2017.

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