The Tulip Mania and Crash In 1637

What Was Tulip Mania? Tulip mania began when tulips were developed and sold for profit. They were extremely wanted and sold at extremely high prices. The tulips, which were introduced during the Dutch Gilden Age, […]

What Was Tulip Mania?

Tulip mania began when tulips were developed and sold for profit. They were extremely wanted and sold at extremely high prices. The tulips, which were introduced during the Dutch Gilden Age, were rare and hard to come by. For that reason, sales of a single bulb could reach as high in price as ten times an annual salary of an individual. This may sound extreme, but they were thought to be so rare and so interesting that acquiring them was important to individuals from all walks of life.

Why Tulips?

Why was the tulip so sought after? Aside from its relatively new introduction, the flower itself was wanted for aesthetic appeal. The flower was beautiful in color and had large petals that expressed the hue vividly. It became a status symbol based on its beauty and its use in the national crest of the Netherlands. The Netherlands, who had just received their independence from Spain, saw the tulip as a symbol of national pride and appeal as well as independence. For this reason, it quickly became a luxurious item that was greatly sought after. It, in essence, was more than just a flower but a symbol of so much more.

The Crash

The problem, however, that resulted in the 1637 Tulip Mania Crash was that this pricing could not last forever. Eventually, the market crashed and when it did, it crashed hard. The price of bulbs went from the high levels it was before to a drop in price that was virtually incalculable. It is thought that this crash was the first economic bubble burst accurately and correctly recorded in history. Therefore, the crash provided an example for what countries would experience in a multitude of ways in the future.

Why The Refusal To Buy?

The 1637 Tulip Mania Crash began in Haarlem when at a large bulb auction no buyers showed up to purchase bulbs. The trade that had been so lucrative up until then virtually instantaneously stopped. The reason could have been the outbreak of the Bubonic plague which had people fearing leaving their homes and coming into contact with another person who was infected. For whatever reason though the industry was decimated in a single day. The market crashed and many bulb investors saw their products go down the economic drain instantly.

Impact

The 1637 Tulip Mania Crash is more than about a popular flower. It is a clear illustration and tangible example of what can happen in economics. As soon as a product or item becomes popular it can just as quickly fall from the ranks and lead to devastating economic consequences. Whether tulips or another product, rise in fame in a country, the economy can become so tied to it that the two are virtually inseparable. Then, when that crashes or drops, the economy is decimated. This scenario has occurred multiple times throughout history and the lessons that should be learned are often not. Knowing about the tulip mania crash may help to prevent in another country in the future, if the knowledge is heeded appropriately.