Inflation soared in Holland as daily necessities and the industry of the nation were completely swept aside by the craze for tulips. The tulip trade became so huge that a code of laws specific to the trading of tulips was drawn up. While the bigger cities had a proper location to conduct the trade of tulips, smaller towns with no such location relied on the local tavern as the showplace to trade in tulips, and the richest and the poorest of these towns all congregated here to buy and sell, with numbers going into hundreds, to bid for large vases of tulips.
Interesting anecdotes about the tulip craze abound. A merchant who was a collector of tulip bulbs received a precious consignment from the Levant via a sailor. He graciously offered the sailor a fine red herring for breakfast. On the counter, the sailor saw what he thought was an onion and picked it unthinkingly, meaning to have it along with the herring for his breakfast.
The merchant suddenly realized his valuable Semper Augustus bulb, worth around three thousand florins, was missing. The household was turned upside down, but the missing bulb was not found, until one of the staff thought that perhaps the sailor could have picked it up.
The entire household ran into the streets to find the sailor, and when they did find him, he was quietly sitting by the quay eating the last of his breakfast, the herring with what he thought was an ordinary onion bulb, but could have in fact paid the entire crew of his ship for a year. The breakfast proved too costly for the sailor, the merchant had him thrown into jail for a felony.
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