How Much Is a Tulip Bulb Worth?
- Posted by ppearlman
- on September 27th, 2012
Well, I can tell you unequivocally, a tulip bulb is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay.
I bring it up this morning as I’ve tweaked the layout of this blog and added the tag line in the header:
8 Fat Swine, 12 Fat Sheep, 2 Hogsheads of wine…
This comes from a long list of items someone once paid for a single tulip bulb during the mania. Mackay published the full list in Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, a book I highly recommend.
Mackay copied the full list from Munting, an industrious author living in 17th century Amsterdam and it always resonated with me.
I thought of it again recently as I happened across an academic paper written by Mark Hirschey entitled How Much Is a Tulip Worth?
Hirschey publishes the list but adds a column listing what each item is worth in 1998 US Dollars.
That’s 34k$ for a single bulb at the height of tulipmania. Nice.
I always loved the list because it was a vivid and poetic reminder to me of two things:
1. Value is relative.
2. Markets will remain, to widely varying degrees, irrational as long as humans are involved with them.
Now here’s a listing from Michigan Bulb dot com, one of hundreds of websites that sell them.
40 for 9.99$
That’s just less than a quarter a piece.
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Phil is the executive editor of StockTwits and an investor in the company. He is a partner at Social Leverage, LLC and makes early stage investments in web based companies. (More)