Well, believe it or not, the beautiful Tulip became the center of such a craze at one time. Many people were ruined when the Tulip bubble burst.
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Tulip flowers have often been used to symbolize love, but in 17th century Holland, they came to represent doom for many overzealous investors. The Dutch fell head over heels for tulips shortly after the lilies were first introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century. Tulips became a powerful status symbol, and nobles and middle class admirers alike began scrambling to get their hands on rare specimens. By the 1630s, Tulip marts had sprung up in city centers, and bulbs were traded in the same way as modern stocks on Wall Street. A single tulip bulb often sold for the same price as everything from a carriage and a pair of horses to 1,000 pounds of cheese.
Tulip mania continued unabated until February 1637, when the market collapsed after a few of the bigger players decided to sell out. Prices plummeted, and a brief panic ensued as investors raced to dump their stores of lilies. “Substantial merchants were reduced almost to beggary,” wrote Charles Mackay, who later helped popularized the story of the tulip craze. “Many a representative of a noble line saw the fortunes of his house ruined beyond redemption.” The Dutch government formed a commission to clean up the tulip mess, but the economy sank into a minor depression in the years that followed.
Who would have ever thought that something like a flower, no matter how pretty, would cause an economic collapse. Certainly not the folks in the government, I suspect.
Coffee in the kitchen again this morning, OK?