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Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In the 1630s the Netherlands was gripped by tulipmania: a speculative fever unprecedented in scale and, as popular history would have it, folly. We all know the outline of the story—how otherwise sensible merchants, nobles, and artisans spent all they had (and much that they didn’t) on tulip bulbs. We have heard how these bulbs changed hands hundreds of times in a single d ...more
Hardcover, 425 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by University of Chicago Press
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Courtney Johnston
Feb 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Not a light read, but a damn interesting one.

Goldgar argues that the scholarly work on the 1637 'tulip mania' in Holland has been based on a small number of translations of a equally small number of pieces of propaganda/satirical writing. This has skewed the understanding of the events and personalities of the period, and vastly skewed the popular understanding, where tulip mania is used as an easy metaphor for the failings of the capitalist system in a boom and bust environment.


Goldgar sl
Rebecca Radnor
The author shares her exhaustive research into tulip-mania and debunks it. On one hand the points are interesting, but the exhaustive detail turns it into a slog at times as you wade through the lives of the people who were involved in the investment bubble, and their motivations. The author however does do a good job of making you understand how times were different, and what these flowers meant to the collectors. Tulips at the time fell into the same category as works of art (the whole concept ...more
Margaret Sankey
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Tulipmania in the Netherlands has become a cautionary tale of economic bubbles and fad crazes, but was it really as described in the _Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds_? Goldgar actually goes to the Dutch sources to find out, and uncovers that instead of an all-consuming mania for people from all walks of life as depicted in Mackay, the tulip trade functioned like other luxury trades in the 17th century Netherlands. An interconnected network of families (many Mennonites) ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very well done. A must to read if visiting the Netherlands. It has tons of detail that can turn off readers, but I found it fascinating. The author has done some extensive research and convincingly proves her thesis.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent examination of this 17th century phenomenon. Puts to rest much of the mythology and hyperbole surrounding stories about tulipmania. Puts bulb trading in context, as an "on the side" activity of merchants, doctors and skilled artisans who were drawn to the tulip for its beauty and rarity as well as its role as a valuable commodity. Sees tulipmania less as an economic crisis --it wasn't -- and more as evidence of a crisis in Dutch society. A nuanced and thoroughly documented work. ...more
Alexis Kaelin
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Terrific. What is value? How do we know? How can you trust others? What a fabulous book. Goldgar tackles the intersection of commerce, value, knowledge, science, art, nature, religion and culture and pulls it all off beautifully. I'm sad it is over. And what did she title the Epilogue? Cabbage Fever. ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meandering but informative

This is, essentially, an extended argument that the tulip bubble was overblown; and more of a rhetorical device than an actual crisis. The argument is persuasive, but also could have used a stronger editorial hand: this is, itself, a long pamphlet, not a book. Still, an interesting read in a time of new bubbles (and moral judgements).
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Anne Goldgar has written an exceptional book. The title of the book might suggest that this would be yet another description of the those first few months of 1637 in Holland with the usual stories of bankrupted chimney sweeps and grasping swindlers.

This is not one of those books. Quite to the contrary, Goldgar demolishes all of those myths with great scholarship and wit. But more importantly, we have a meticulously researched social history of the rising passion and delight for the tulip that sh
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was well-written, it just wasn't really for me ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book re-examines the Tulip bubble of 1636-7. Its premise is that everything we all have read in "Extraordinary Popular Delusions", in Burton Malkiel, and elsewhere is based on flawed documents. All of these derive from a single 18th century source (or from MacKay who used this same source) that drew its information from 17th century pamphlets. The pamphlets were written with didactic or moralizing intent rather than as actual history. They exaggerated the spread of the speculation in societ ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I wrote my extended essay on tulipmania and this was by far the most thorough and authoritative book that I could find.

Refusing to be caught up in the excitement of the story (like others such as Dash do), Goldgar looks at "tulipmania" in a methodical and historical way. She questions, like any good historian should, the primary source data from which we have drawn so much about the story and in doing so paints a much more realistic picture of the crisis.

This book is for those who want an hones
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic
Definitely comprehensive but so dense. Too dense. There's a lot in the takeaway; I understand tulipmania in context, and historically, so much better. But I found myself skimming, skipping, and reading paragraph and chapter ends to catch the distillation of the thesis and conclusions.

For that, it's well researched and a solid argument for turning the stereotyped notion of what tulipmania was, what it caused, and its ripple effects. With beautiful illustrations. There was just a lot to wade throu
Feb 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: done
An account of one of the first recorded economic bubbles. However, the book was, for my tastes overly technical. I would have been far more interested in a more social history instead of this intersection of art history and economics. The most interesting sections dealt with the individuals caught up in the economic boom and crash. They were too few and much too long between.
Mar 13, 2008 marked it as to-read
I'm excited to read this book. I love tulips, grow tulips, & seek to find and plant rare varieties of tulips. Tulips in Holland were traded much as we trade on the stock market today. The first were thought to be like a radish or a turnip, & the Dutch ate them.

Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
so far i'd call this book very ...helpful. i've learned more than i maybe cared to know but do appreciate the author's take on history and how she always manages to keep it contextualized. and she signed it while we were in amsterdam to boot. ...more
Joshua Belice
Apr 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Dutch Golden Age during the Early Modern period in Europe. Good place to be if you happen to have a sachtel of tulip bulbs handy!
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Although it's densely written, with far more detail than most would ever want to know, this is fascinating history. ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
More supporting documentation than necessary for my level of interest, but a worthy and mostly enjoyable read.
Jan 13, 2013 added it
Shelves: historical
Interesting overview of the Netherlands and the real story behind the Tulip craze in the 1600's
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book while researching a paper on the tulip bubble. It was an enjoyable read - and it changed the way I look at a simple bulb.
Nina Pantelic
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130 likes · 5 comments
“Admirael de Mans that were of sufficient quality. Seys, at the center of a variety of tulip deals, knew what a good Admirael de Man looked like. It was likewise an excuse for Susanna Sprangers (sister of the important Amsterdam art collector Gommer Spranger), when trying to extricate herself from a bad deal with Lambert Massa (buyer of art at auction, connected with various art dealers, and brother of an important Muscovy merchant who was painted by Hals), that she knew nothing about tulips: "having no knowledge of the flowers nor knowing the worth of them....” 0 likes
“During the dinner, Pieter Wynants' cousin Hendrick Jan several times suggested to Geertruyt Schoudt that she might like to buy a pound of tulip bulbs. These were Switsers, which, along with Coornharts, were the most popular sort of bulbs in late 1636 and 1637. Switsers, which were red and yellow striped flowers named after Swiss mercenary soldiers and celebrated by various poets, including Andrew Marvell, would have been in bulb form at the beginning of February and, for their own good health, buried in someone's garden. Schoudt would have to take the bulbs on trust, although as she was through various ties closely bound to the Wynants family, this was perhaps not such a problem.” 0 likes
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