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  1. 1. TulipomaniaThe Great Dutch Tulip-Trading Craze of 1634-37<br />Mike Dash<br />
  2. 2. Alkmaar, 5 February 1637<br />To Alkmaar, in the North Quarter of Holland<br />To an auction of the estate of a tavern-keeper, Wouter Winkel, for the benefit of his seven children<br />Fierce bidding raised 90,000 guilders<br />The goods sold: flower bulbs<br />
  3. 3. Stranger from the east<br />Wild tulips from the Celestial Mountains<br />Natural barriers<br />The unfinished article<br />Symbols of spring, life and fertility<br />Brought west by Turkish nomads, c9th-10th <br />Venerated in Persia by 1050<br />‘When a young man gives one to his mistress, he gives her to understand, by the general color of the flower, that he is on fire with her beauty; and by the black base of it, that his heart is burnt to a coal.’<br />John Chardin<br />
  4. 4. ‘Acceptable and beautiful’<br />The Ottomans<br />A holy flower<br />Depicted in the Garden of Eden<br />One of five precious flowers<br />An imperial symbol<br />The Abode of Bliss<br />Paradise gardens and professional gardeners<br />Istanbul tulips<br />1500 varieties<br />A council of florists to sit in judgment on new cultivars<br />
  5. 5. ‘Acceptable and beautiful’<br />‘The Light of Paradise’<br />‘The Matchless Pearl’<br />‘Increaser of Pleasure’<br />‘Rose of the Dawn’<br />‘Diamond’s Envy’<br />‘Pomegranate Lance’<br />‘Delicate Coquette’<br />
  6. 6. ‘Acceptable and beautiful’<br />‘Curved as the form of the new moon, her color is well apportioned, clean, well-proportioned; almond in shape, needle-like, ornamented with pleasant rays, her inner leaves as a well, as they should be, her outer leaves a little open, as they should be, the white ornamented leaves are absolutely perfect. She is the chosen of the chosen.’<br />Seyh Mehmed Lalezari, Acceptable and Beautiful<br />
  7. 7. Clusius <br />From Turkey to Europe<br />Trade goods and gifts<br />Augsberg, 1559<br />Antwerp 1562<br />Vienna 1572<br />Frankfurt 1593<br />France 1598<br />Seen in Mechelen by Carolus Clusius, 1565<br />
  8. 8. Theft<br />Travels to Vienna 1573<br />Receives tulip seeds from imperial ambassador to the Ottoman court<br />To Leiden 1592 to establish a hortus academicus<br />Thefts from the garden in 1596, 1598<br />‘And so the 17 provinces were amply stocked.’<br />
  9. 9. Varieties<br />The most diverse of all flowers known to Clusius<br />14 different species<br />More than 30 varieties known by 1602<br />Divided into three broad groups<br />
  10. 10. Varieties<br />Rosen<br />Most numerous<br />Crimson flakes or flames on a white petal<br />The more delicate the red, the finer and more coveted the flower – from ‘rude’ all the way to ‘superbly fine’<br />Existed in about 400 varieties by 1635<br />
  11. 11. Varieties<br />Violetten<br />Purple or lilac on white<br />Less common than rosen tulips; about 70 varieties<br />Also existed as lacken - white on a lilac background<br />
  12. 12. Varieties<br />Bizarden<br />Red on a yellow background<br />Least common and least coveted of the three groups<br />About 24 varieties<br />Could also be purple or brown on yellow<br />
  13. 13. Smoke and mirrors<br />Coveted and collected by the wealthiest regents and merchants<br />Netherlands the world’s first developed economy<br />A fast-growing society of refugees<br />Rich trades, banking, the Amsterdam stock exchange… even a futures market <br />Yet a flat, drab country with a Calvinist aversion to displays of ostentation and wealth in clothing or personal possessions<br />Tulips one of God’s creations… fitted into fashion for country houses and the beautification of the countryside with gardens<br />
  14. 14. Smoke and mirrors<br />Planted formally<br />So scarce and expensive, often one flower per bed<br />Optical illusions used to multiply the number of flowers on display<br />
  15. 15. Semper Augustus<br />Chronicle of Nicholas Wassenaer<br />Only 12 examples known by 1624<br />Single owner<br />Offers of 2,000 to 3,000 guilders per bulb were summarily rejected<br />Valued at up to 12,000 guilders a bulb by 1636<br />
  16. 16. Why tulips?<br />New<br />Rare<br />and slow to propagate<br />Hardy and suited to sandy soil<br />Process of breaking unpredictable, & weakens flower<br />More intensely colored & better defined than any other flower before or since<br />
  17. 17. Florists<br />By 1630, a small but well-established market for tulips<br />Connoisseurs and growers<br />Large sums paid for the rarest flowers<br />Easy money?<br />Dutch society and Dutch character<br />
  18. 18.
  19. 19. Boom<br />1633. A house in Hoorn sold for three rare tulips; a farm in Friesland for a parcel of bulbs<br />Stories drew in new investors<br />often artisans mortgaging the tools of their trades<br />Bulbs still scarce; rapid acceleration in prices, and more varieties began to be traded<br />
  20. 20. Boom<br />Admirael de Man<br />From 15 guilders to 175<br />Root en Gheel van Leyden<br />From 45 guilders to 550<br />Generalissimo<br />From 95 guilders to 900<br />• This acceleration continued through 1635 until, by the winter of 1636, some bulbs could double in value in little more than a week.<br />
  21. 21. At the Sign of the Golden Grape<br />To understand this means understanding the way the trade was conducted.<br />Not an elite trade - at the margins of Dutch economic life<br />Traders were artisans, trading in tavern ‘colleges’<br />By auction, but with wijnkoopsgeld (wine money)<br />
  22. 22. At the Sign of the Golden Grape<br />And increasingly unreal<br />Florists did not value tulips for their beauty<br />Had no intention of growing them themselves<br />So wanted to trade all year round, not as previously during the lifting season<br />In all parties’ interests to maximize volume and profit - so system of trade by weight evolved<br />And a futures market<br />Windhandel<br />
  23. 23. At the Sign of the Golden Grape<br />The futures trade<br />10% deposit down, balance payable at lifting time<br />Sell the promissory note - no risk<br />Take the example of goudas at 100 guilders a bulb…<br />A man with 50 guilders capital could buy 5 bulbs<br />If by lifting time price had doubled he was worth 1,000 guilders<br />But if they halved, he lost 200 guilders…<br />
  24. 24. At the Sign of the Golden Grape<br />Perhaps 3,000 or 4,000 traders involved across a dozen towns<br />Bricklayers, farmers, woodcutters, coffee-grinders, glass-blowers, millers<br />Weavers mortgaged tools<br />Payment often in kind<br />And as prices rose steadily, tulip trading became a national obsession<br />
  25. 25. From the notarial records of Wouter de Jonge (1635)<br />
  26. 26. Value for money<br />A flower worth 3000 guilders could<br />be exchanged for…<br />8 fat pigs & 4 fat oxen<br />12 fat sheep<br />24 tons of wheat & 48 tons of rye<br />2 hogsheads of wine<br />4 barrels of beer<br />2 tons of butter & 1,000 pounds of cheese<br />A silver drinking cup<br />A pack of clothes<br />A bed with mattress & bedding<br />A ship<br />
  27. 27. Bust<br />By winter of 1636-37 the market was fast reaching saturation<br />Growing concern at the approach of lifting time <br />Chaotic chains of ownership<br />Doubts about identification of bulbs<br />All bulbs, even gemeene goed for which there was no actual demand, in play<br />Prices had become so high few could now afford to enter market, limiting amounts of new capital<br />
  28. 28. Bust<br />The crash came in Haarlem on the first Tuesday of February 1637<br />1250 guilders asked for a basked of witte croonen or switsers<br />No bidders at 1250 guilders<br />No bidders at 1100 guilders<br />No bidders at 1000 guilders<br />Panic<br />And a simple impulse: sell<br />
  29. 29. Condemnation<br />Panic spread from Haarlem to Amsterdam and the other tulip towns<br />Trade all but ceased - prices now 5%, sometimes 1%, of their peak<br />A tulip worth 5,000 guilders sold for 50<br />Leaving tangled chains of ownership and debt<br />Those worst off: the growers<br />
  30. 30. Condemnation<br />An assembly of growers meets at Amsterdam<br />Compromise: purchases to 30 November to be paid in full<br />Purchases thereafter settled with payment of 10% of agreed price<br />Disillusionment and condemnation - a flood of ribald and moralistic broadsides<br />
  31. 31.
  32. 32. Legal process<br />Compromise fails; appeals to the States<br />The States refers the matter to the Court of Holland<br />The Court refers the matter to the towns<br />All disputes suspended pending a resolution<br />Few cases ever were resolved<br />In Haarlem, an arbitration committee of ‘friend-makers’ from January 1638<br />
  33. 33. The bubble burst<br />Cases heard into 1639<br />The painter Jan Van Goyen, pursued by his creditors, then his creditors’ heirs, dies in 1656 still owing 897 guilders from his involvement with the tulip trade<br />Market returns to equilibrium in 1640s with a few connoisseurs dealing direct with the remaining growers for the most superbly fine bulbs<br />A few large deals still made - Aert Huybertsz pays 850 guilders for a Manassier, summer 1637<br />By 1643, prices average 1/6th of those of February 1637<br />
  34. 34. Lessons not learned<br />A mania for hyacinths in 1737<br />In dahlias in France in 1838<br />In red spider lilies in China in 1985<br />Dutch domination of the bulb trade continues<br />Istanbul tulips and the tulips of Golden Age Holland become extinct; mosaic virus identified and isolated<br />Today the oldest variety dates only to 1650s<br />