The tulips, originally from Persia & Asia Minor, found their way to Constantinopel, where they were first seen (in 1554) by de Busbecq, ambassador of Emperor Ferdinand I at the Court of the Sultan, who sent seeds or bulbs to Europe.
A few years later Conrad Gesner was the first who saw tulips flowering there, viz at Augsburg (Bavaria). The renowned botanist Clusius in the city of Leiden, who met de Busbecq at Vienna distributed many bulbs of tulips to this friends in the Netherlands. So the tulip came to Holland where the growing of this bulb should later on become such an important part of cultivation.
In the first part of the 17th century the cultivation of tulips developed very quickly and far quicker than one should have expected the tulip
became popular. Every body who had a fair seized garden wanted tulips. Remarkable is it that at that time people valued most the variegated tulips, that is: red, pink or purple flowers, white or yellow striped, or marbled.
These variegated tulips were obtained by propagating the sports of the ordinary kinds, which contained - as a sportstripes etc. The more stripes the more valuable the tulip! It was a fine hobby, which, alas afterwards degenerated into gambling. This foolish gambling in tulips lasted from 1634 - 1637. All kinds of auctions were organised; and the enormous amount of money paid for tulips made people invest their saving in bulbs. People of all trades: weavers, tailors, black-smiths etc. started bulb growing, trying to make a fortune quickly.
Capital for carrying on the bulb trade was not immediately necessary, because at the time the tulips were sold, the bulbs were still in the ground; very often they had not even bloomed. The sale therefore was merely an exchange of contracts. The same purchase changed hands several times, even on a single day. That's why it was possible for the prices of the bulbs to soar as they did and that at the time of delivery a fabulous sum had to be paid.
And even that was not enough; they contrived to weigh the bulbs on an assay balance, and sold them, not per piece, but per asen (28 asen = 1 dram, 16 drams = 1 ounce). A well developed bulb weighed 1000 asen or more. At an auction one bulb of the tulip "Vice Rot" was sold for 4200 guilders (350:0:0), and one tulip: "Admiraal van Enckhuysen" fetched 5400 Guilders (450:0:0).
Such an absurd trading led to the most serious excesses, and fortunately the States of Holland in 1637 decided to stop this sort of thing and published their decision bv giving out a proclamation.
Hence the cultivation of tulips could be developed along normal lines, what indeed happened. After many ups and downs the present high standard was attained, and whosoever visits in spring the Dutch bulb nurseries must be struck as well by the wealth in form and colour, as well as by the long flowering season.