Skip to main content

The tulipmania: Fact or artifact?


The famous tulipmania, which saw the reported prices of several breeds of tulip bulbs rise to above the value of a furnished luxury house in 17th century Amsterdam, was an artifact created by an implicit conversion of ordinary futures contracts into option contracts in an imperfectly successful attempt by Dutch futures buyers and public officials to bail themselves out of previously incurred speculative losses in the impressively price-efficient, fundamentally driven, market for Dutch tulip contracts. There was thus nothing maniacal about prices in this period. Despite outward appearances, the tulipmania was not a bubble because bubbles require the existence of mutually-agreed-upon prices that exceed fundamental values. The “tulipmania” was simply a period during which the prices in futures contracts had been legally, albeit temporarily, converted into options exercise prices.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Bussmann, K., & Shilling, H. (1648). War and Peace in Europe, Munster: Osnabruck. 1998.

  • Cos, P., Verzameling van een meenigte tulipaanen, naar het leven geteekend met hunne naamen, en swaarteder bollen, zoo als die publicq verkogt zijn, te Haarlem in den jaare A. 1637, door P. Cos, bloemist te Haarlem. – Haarlem : [s.n.], 1637. – 75 pi. (See

  • Chancellor, E. (1999). Devil Take the Hindmost (p. 17). New York: Farrar.

  • Dash, M. (2000). Tulipomania. New York: Three Rivers Press.

  • De La Vega, J. (1688). Confusion de Confusions, Harvard, Cambridge, pp. 35.

  • Garber, P.M. (1986). The Tulipmania Legend. New York: Center for the Study of Futures Markets, Columbia Business School, Columbia University.

  • Garber, P.M. (1989). Tulipmania. Journal of Political Economy, 97(3), 535–557.

  • Garber, P.M. (2000). Famous First Bubbles:the fundamentals of early manias. Cambridge: Mass MIT Press.

  • Hogenberg, Abraham and Franz (1983). Geschichtsblatter, Alfons UHL, Nordlingen, 448,449, and A.4.

  • Krelage, E.H. (1942). Bloemenspeculatie in Nederland, P.N.Van Kampen and Zoon, Amsterdam, 49–52.

  • Mackay, C. (1841). Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, London, Ch. 3.

  • Maland, D. (1980). Europe at War, 1600–1650, Manchester: Macmillan.

  • Posthumus, N.W. (1926). De Speculatie in Tulpen in de Jaren 1636 en 1637, I. Economisch-Historisch Jaarboek, Martinus Nijhoff, Gravenhage.

  • Posthumus, N.W. (1927). De Speculatie in Tulpen in de Jaren 1636 en 1637, II. Economisch-Historisch Jaarboek, Martinus Nijhoff, Gravenhage.

  • Posthumus, N.W. (1929). The Tulipmania in Holland in the Years 1636 and 1637. Journal of Economic and Business History, Cambridge, May, Vol I.

  • Posthumus, N.W. (1934). De Speculatie in Tulpen in de Jaren 1636 en 1637 III, Economisch-Historisch Jaarboek, Martinus Nijhoff, Gravenhage.

  •, Planting and Care/Climate Zones. Currently, the web address is:

  • Wedgewood, C.V. (1999). The Thirty Years War. London: The Folio Society.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Earl A. Thompson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Thompson, E.A. The tulipmania: Fact or artifact?. Public Choice 130, 99–114 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Public officials
  • Legislatures
  • Instability
  • Herd effects
  • Tulipmania
  • Holland
  • 17th century
  • Futures contracts
  • Options contracts
  • Thirty Years War
  • Black-Scholes
  • Breeders markets
  • Equilibrium price paths