DEFINITION of 'Dutch Tulip Bulb Market Bubble'

The Dutch tulip bulb market bubble is to this day one of the most famous market bubbles of all time, as well as a cautionary tale. It occurred in Holland during the early 1600s when speculation drove the value of tulip bulbs to extremes. At the height of the market, the rarest tulip bulbs traded for as much as six times the average person's annual salary. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Dutch Tulip Bulb Market Bubble'

The tulip was brought to Europe in the middle of the sixteenth century from the Ottoman Empire. Holland's upper classes soon competed for the rarest bulbs as tulips became a status symbol.

By 1636, tulip bulbs were traded on the stock exchanges of numerous Dutch towns and cities, encouraging all members of society to speculate in the markets. Many people traded or sold possessions, including properties, to participate in the tulip market mania. Like any bubble, it all came to an end in 1637, when prices dropped and panic selling began. Bulbs were soon trading at a fraction of what they once had, leaving many people in financial ruin.

The obsession with tulips — referred to as "Tulipmania" — has captured public imagination for generations and been the subject of several books including a novel called "Tulip Fever" by Deborah Moggach which was made into a movie in 2017.

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