By Emma Clarke
Today is Tulip Day. It may seem strange that tulips have their own day. However, when you consider that Pickle Week (May 18-23) is coming up; it does seem justified that this historical flower has a day in its honour.
In fact, the tale of the tulip bulb bubble has served as a lesson for businesses everywhere.
In 17th Century Holland, tulips were big news. Holland was experiencing a Golden Age, and what better way is there to exhibit your wealth than filling your garden with pricey plants? One particularly precious Sempur Augustus bulb was valued at 3000 guilders – approximately the average salary of a wealthy merchant. Surprisingly, when someone offered to buy the expensive bulb, the proud owner refused to sell.
So why were tulips so valuable? Partly due to the fact that they were so different from previous flowers. According to Mike Dash, a British journalist who wrote a book on the subject of tulips, ”The colors they exhibited were more intense and more concentrated than those of ordinary plants.’‘
However, the sale of tulips was never a certain one. Supply could not keep up with demand. Bulbs and especially the seeds took a long time to grow. Even if you were patient, you just didn’t know what you were getting. The fact that tulips were sold as bulbs or seeds meant that you were buying blind and there was plenty of room for deception, not to mention genetic mutations.
For disaster to strike all it took was one person to refuse to turn up and pay after an auction in Haarlem. The Dutch people started to panic and tulips’ value dropped dramatically.
So what did this mean for the Dutch economy? Fortunately, it didn’t affect it a great deal. The Amsterdam Stock Market luckily had decided not to take the risk and invest in tulips.
Today I’ll be buying some tulips. At around £3 per bunch, it seems that in 2013 we’re getting quite a good bargain!
What do you think is the most expensive flower in the world? We’ll reveal the answer next Monday.
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