I just learned something weird.
In the 1630s, the Dutch became obsessed with tulips. They threw tulip-themed dinner parties. They met at taverns after work to drink wine and look at bulbs, and they made crazy–absolutely crazy– financial decisions in the hope that the price of tulips would keep going up.
Tulips only bloom in April and May for about one week, so during the rest of the year people signed contracts to sell bulbs they wouldn’t have until the end of the blooming season. This essentially started a market in tulip futures. [STAY WITH ME, LIBERAL ARTS PEOPLE.] The price of tulip contracts rose and rose until the Dutch were trading the most ridiculous things for them. According to an article in The Paris Review, one particularly nutty guy traded the following items for a rare bulb. I repeat: for ONE (1) SINGLE BULB, he pledged:
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