Friday, April 15, 2011

Tulips and Puzzles ala Jane Austen

About tulips: With spring bursting out all over, I found myself thinking of the tulips I planted in my garden in Maryland before moving to the Desert Southwest. Did you know that tulips were at the heart of the first economic bubble?

From Wikipedia: The tulip was introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century from the Ottoman Empire and became very popular in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands). Because of its symbol as a luxury item, the contract price of rare bulbs continued to rise throughout 1636. At the peak of tulip mania, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble)... However in February 1637, tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt.

The speculators had dug themselves into a deep hole, and fortunes were lost. But they had made their beds and had to lie in them. (Puns intended.)

Fields of Tulips in The Netherlands
About Austen: Does the black and white drawing below look familiar to you? Jane Odiwe, author of Mr. Darcy's Secret, explores the possibility that this is a sketch of the Austen family. This post first appeared on Jane's blog and then on Austen Authors. She does a great job of gathering clues.

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