Tulip mania 1 of 3

The most expensive tulip in 1630's Netherlands is the Semper Augustus. It fetched a sum of over 8,000 florins at that time. It is easy to catch everybody's attention whenever prices of commodities are rising. The reason for such increase is either the item in the spotlight is in such high demand because of its utility. However, another prime factor when the capitalist mind is set in place is speculation, an item's quality and utility is greatly ignored when a mania is underway. In hopes of a quick gain, prices rise into dizzying heights as the demand for an item overwhelms supply and later, common sense. One particular instance of this mania occurred in 1630's Dutch Republic. It is a time of rising economic optimism as security in central Europe was in an all time high, owing partly to the extinction of the Spanish military threat. East India Company, a prominent company during that time continued to experience the biggest surge in its stock price. The 1630's saw Amsterdam as the financial center of the known world, just like how New York is today. House prices continued to rise because the Dutch Republic enjoyed the highest incomes in Europe. The wealth of its citizens were spent on coaches, horses, estates and a flower which enabled them to show their avid search for wealth and display, the Tulip.

The Tulip derived its name from the Turkish Tulipan which means turban. It was introduced to the Netherlands from Turkey by Ogier Ghislaine de Busbecq. The limited geographical space of the Netherlands only allowed for modest sized gardens and only confined to the gardens of the wealthy, but its flat terrain and rich soil provided a good venue for cultivation of bulbs. When all of these factors combined the Tulip became the most priced flower due to their shortage in supply and the beautiful coloring effects of their petals. Tulip bulb collectors classified the flower’s variety based on their petals and gave them militaristic ranks to reflect their hierarchy. The most priced variety is called the Semper Augustus followed by Veceroy, Admiral and General. Their exotic variety were sold for a high price because the colors on their petals appear by chance. A plain tulip breeder could hit it with a big payday if his plain tulip bulbs would turn into a precious Semper Augustus or other rare variety. Little did contemporary Netherlands know that the coloring effects of the petals were the result of a virus that attacked the Tulips giving it its rare looking color combination. The demand for this rare variety began to attract a very high price, a Semper Augustus was sold at the beginning of the Tulip mania for an amount enough to buy a small house in Amsterdam

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