Tulip Mania is a real thing.

I looked up a tulip that was pretty and ended up down an internet rabbit hole of flowers and riches and economics.  

Semper Augustus.  Painting by Johannes Bosschaerth.

Semper Augustus.  Painting by Johannes Bosschaerth.

The Semper Augustus tulip was the most expensive tulip in the world in the 1600's.  One bulb cost ten times the yearly salary of a craftsman of the time.  Why was it so expensive?  When tulips were introduced to the Dutch, they quickly became very popular due to their bright colors and tulip gardens outside one's home became an outward symbol of success.  

But tulips take 7-12 years to grow from seed into flowering bulb.  And streaked tulips, such as the Semper Augustus, were due to a virus that resulted in the 'breaking' of the color of the petal.  This virus made the propagation of this variety of tulip almost impossible, thus driving up the price.

Painting by Hans Bollongier.

Painting by Hans Bollongier.

This is the part of the story when economics takes over.  Some sources claim 'Tulip Mania' as one of the first instances of an economic bubble, when an asset price far outweighs the intrinsic value.  Tulip dealers soon became speculators and were driving up prices based on tulip availability years from the present time.  {This explanation is probably all sorts of wrong.  I know nothing about economics.  Other than getting burned on our house sale in 2008}.  Anyways, the bubonic plague hit, no one cared much about the flowers in their front yards anymore, and the tulip market crashed leaving lots of people penniless.  

The Semper Augustus does not exist today, but there are a lot of look-alikes.  

Candy Cane Tulip

Candy Cane Tulip

I even discovered a mystery novel based on the history of this time: "The Tulip Virus" by Danielle Hermans.  I'll read it based on the cover alone.

I guess this means I need to get some Broken Tulips for my yard next Spring.