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until 27 August 2023

Museum De Zwarte Tulp: Tulip Fever – 1636 - 1637 – The True Story

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Museum 'De Zwarte Tulp'
Museum De Zwarte Tulp
Heereweg 219
2161 BG Lisse
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The wildest stories circulate about the Tulip Fever of 1636/37, but the truth is less startling.

You certainly could not buy an Amsterdam canal house for the price of a tulip bulb, there were no large-scale bankruptcies and no one jumped into the canal in despair.
The highest bid ever, for a bulb of the Viceroy tulip, in February 1637 - 4,200 guilders - was probably never paid because then the market collapsed. Why that market collapsed is still a mystery. Too much supply? Uncertainty about quality (after all, the bulbs were still in the ground)? Influence of the plague that also felled bulb growers? The economic rule that an overheated market will collapse one day?

The Tulip Fever exhibition tells what did ha…

You certainly could not buy an Amsterdam canal house for the price of a tulip bulb, there were no large-scale bankruptcies and no one jumped into the canal in despair.
The highest bid ever, for a bulb of the Viceroy tulip, in February 1637 - 4,200 guilders - was probably never paid because then the market collapsed. Why that market collapsed is still a mystery. Too much supply? Uncertainty about quality (after all, the bulbs were still in the ground)? Influence of the plague that also felled bulb growers? The economic rule that an overheated market will collapse one day?

The Tulip Fever exhibition tells what did happen in the first half of the seventeenth century, how the tulip went from being a sought-after collector's item to a trading object and then a speculative object. How first the flowering tulip was traded, then the bulbs, and finally bulbs still in the ground, which speculators sometimes resold a number of times in the hope of ever-increasing profits. And what happened, and didn't happen, when the market collapsed in February 1637, to the delight of cartoonists and poets of honeyed verses.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a book:
Tulip Fever - 1636-1637 - Myth and Reality.
Henk Looijesteijn with assistance from Annemarie Vels Heijn.  
18.50 euros, bound, 88 pp. with 34 illustrations. ISBN 978 94 6455 026 9. 

There is also an English-language edition: Tulip Fever - 1636-1637 - Myth and Reality. ISBN 978 90 8293 6179.

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