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direction of perits instead of shares, and that was all the real difference between the tulip and the joint-stock share mania. A seller would say he held four hundred perits of a certain tulip, and another would be heard asking for five hundred perits of a certain other tulip. With this preliminary explanation, we present an account of the Tulipomania from Beckmann's “History of Inventions."
“ Tulips, which are of no further use than to ornament gardens, which are exceeded in beauty by many other plants, and whose duration is short and very precarious, became, in the middle of the seventeenth century, the object of a trade such as is not to be met with in the history of commerce, and by which their price rose above that of the most precious metals. An account of this trade has been given by many authors; but by all late ones it has been misrepresented. People laugh at the Tulipomania, because they believe that the beauty and rarity of the flowers induced florists to give such extravagant prices : they imagine that the tulips were purchased so excessively dear, in order to ornament gardens; but this supposition is false, as I shall presently show.
“ This trade was not carried on throughout all Europe, but in some cities of the Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht, Alkmaar, Leyden, Rotterdam, Hoorn, Enkhuysen, and Meedenblick, and rose to the greatest height in the years 16341637. Munting has given, from some of the books kept during that trade, a few of the prices then paid, of which I shall present the reader with the following. For a root of that species called the Viceroy, the after-mentioned articles, valued as below expressed, were agreed to be delivered :-2 lasts of wheat, 448 florins ; 4 ditto rye, 558 florins ; 4 fat oxen, 480 florins; 3 fat swine, 240 florins; 12 fat sheep, 120 florins; 2 hogsheads of wine, 70 florins; 4 tuns of beer, 32 florins; 2 ditto butter, 192 florins; 1000 pounds of cheese, 120 florins; a complete bed, 100 florins; a suit of clothes, 80 forins; a silver beaker, 60 forins : total, 2500 florins.
“ These tulips afterwards were sold according to the weight of the roots. Four hundred perits of Admiral Leifken cost 4400 florins; 446 ditto of Admiral Von der Eyk, 1620 florins; 106 perits Schilder cost 1615 florins; 200 ditto Semper Augustus, 5500 florins; 410 ditto Viceroy, 3000 florins, &c. The species Semper Augustus has been often sold for 2000 forins; and it once happened that there were only two roots of it to be had—the one at Amsterdam, and the other at Haarlem. For a root of this species, one agreed to give 4600 florins, together with a new carriage, two gray horses, and a complete harness. Another agreed to give for a root twelve acres of land; for those who had not ready money, promised their movable and immovable goods, houses and lands, cattle and clothes. A man, whose name Munting once knew, but could not recollect, won by this trade more than 60,000 florins in the course of four months. It was followed not only by mercantile people, but also by the first noblemen, citizens of every description, mechanics, seamen, farmers, turf-diggers, chimney-sweeps, footmen, maid-servants, and old clothes-women, &c. At first, every one won, and no one lost. Some of the poorest people gained in a few months houses, coaches and horses, and figured away like the first characters in the land. In every town some tavern was selected, which served as a 'Change, where high and low traded in flowers, and confirmed their bargains with the most sumptuous entertainments
. They formed laws for themselves, and had their notaries and clerks.
“During the time of the Tulipomania, a speculator often offered and paid large sums for a root which he never received, and never wished to receive. Another sold roots which he never possessed or delivered. Oft did a nobleman purchase of a chimney-sweep tulips to the amount of 2000 florins, and sell them at the same time to a farmer; and neither the nobleman, chimneysweep, or farmer, had roots in their possession, or wished to possess them. Before the tulip season was over, more roots were sold and purchased, bespoke and promised to be delivered, than in all probability were to be found in the gardens of Holland; and when Semper Augustus was not to be had, which happened twice, no species perhaps was oftener purchased and sold. In
of three years, as Munting tells us, more than ten millions were expended in this trade in only one town of Holland.
“To understand this gambling traffic, it may be necessary to make the following supposition. A nobleman bespoke of a merchant a tulip-root, to be delivered in six months, at the price of 1000 forins. During these six months the price of that species of tulip must have risen or fallen, or remained as it was. We shall suppose that at the expiration of that time the price was 1500 florins; in that case the nobleman did not wish to have the tulip, and the merchant paid him 500 forins, which the latter lost and the former won. If the price was fallen when the six months were expired, so that a root could be purchased for 800 florins, the nobleman then paid to the merchant 200 florins, which he received as so much gain; but if the price continued the same, that is 1000 florins, neither party gained nor lost. In all these circumstances, however, no one ever thought of delivering the roots or of receiving them.
* Henry Munting, in 1636, sold to a merchant at Alkmaar : tulip-root for 7000 florins, to be delivered in six months; but as the price during that time had fallen, the merchant paid, according to agreement, only 10 per cent. So that my father, says the son, received 700 florins for nothing; but he would much rather have delivered the root itself for 7000.' The term of these contracts was often much shorter, and on that ac
munt the trade became brisker. In proportion as more gained by this traffic, more engaged in it; and those who had money to pay to one, had soon money to receive of another; as at faro, one loses upon one card, and at the same time wins on another. The tulip-dealers often discounted sums also, and transferred their debts to one another; so that large sums were paid without cash, without bills, and without goods, as by the Virements at Lyons. “The whole of this trade was a game at hazard, as the Mississippi trade was afterwards, and as stock-jobbing is at present. The only difference between the tulip trade and stock-jobbing is, that at the end of the contract the price in the latter is determined by the Stock exchange; whereas in the former, it was determined by that at which most bargains were made. High and low priced kinds of tulips were procured, in order that both the rich and the poor might gamble with them; and the roots were weighed by perits, that an imagined whole might be divided, and that people might not only have whole, but half and quarter lots. Whoever is surprised that such a traffic should become general, needs only to reflect upon what is done where lotteries are established, by which trades are often neglected, and even abandoned, because a speedier mode of getting fortunes is pointed out to the lower classes. In short, the tulip trade may very well serve to explain stock-jobbing, of which so much is written in gazettes, and of which so many talk in company without understanding it; and I hope, on that account, I shall be forgiven for employing so much time in illustrating what I should otherwise have considered as below my
“At length, however, this trade fell all of a sudden. Among such a number of contracts many were broken; many had engaged to pay more than they were able; the whole stock of the adventurers was consumed by the extravagance of the winners; new adventurers no more engaged in it; and many, becoming sensible of the odious traffic in which they had been concerned, returned to their former occupations. By these means, as the value of tulips still fell, and never rose, the sellers wished to deliver the roots in natura to the purchasers at the prices agreed on; but as the latter had no desire for tulips at even such a low rate, they refused to take them or to pay for them. To end this dispute, the tulip-dealers of Alkmaar sent, in the year 1637, deputies to Amsterdam; and a resolution was passed on the 24th of February, that all contracts made prior to the
last of November 1636 should be null and void; and that, in those made after that date, purchasers should be free on paying 10 per cent. to
"The more people became disgusted with this trade, the more did complaints
increase to the magistrates of the different towns ; but as the courts there would take no cognisance of it, the com
plainants applied to the states of Holland and West Friesland. These referred the business to the determination of the provincial council at the Hague, which, on the 27th of April 1637, declared that it would not deliver its opinion on this traffic until it had received more information on the subject; that in the meantime every vender should offer his tulips to the purchaser; and, in case he refused to receive them, the vender should either keep them, or sell them to another, and have recourse on the purchaser for any loss he might sustain. It was ordered also, that all contracts should remain in force till further inquiry was made. But as no one could foresee what judgment would be given respecting the validity of each contract, the buyers were more obstinate in refusing payment than before; and venders, thinking it much safer to accommodate matters amicably, were at length satisfied with a small profit instead of exorbitant gain ; and thus ended this extraordinary traffic, or rather gambling."
MODERN MANIA S.
UNDETERRED by the generally injurious effects of joint-stock manias, the public, by a strange fascination, after short intervals, commence afresh in the mad career, nor do not stop till an appalling crisis ensues. In 1824–5, a joint-stock mania raged in Great Britain; and in 1845–6, a similar frenzy broke out, and lasted for about twelve months. In this latter case the mania was all for railways. The success of a few leading concerns, and the idea, by no means unsound, that railway communication would be necessarily extended over the country, led to the hasty concoction of innumerable schemes, to carry the whole of which into operation within the time proposed, would have required the payment, within a limited period, of about three hundred millions of pounds-a sum which soared beyond the wildest imaginations of any previous era. The actual amount in the aggregate, however, was at the time of no moment to the projectors of the schemes. The general feeling, as usual, was, that the state of public confidence, and the tone of the money market, would insure the carrying through of any feasible concern; or, at all events, that there was no harm making an effort. Speedily, therefore, were the newspapers filled with advertisements of proposed railways, and for a time as speedily were the shares taken up. We shall endeavour to describe how these projects originated and were conducted. Almost
scheme originated in the office of an attorney desirous of a job-anxious to get hold of a good railway affair
like his neighbours. Whoever lost, he could not but win. Under the auspices of the attorney, and two or three shrewd persons, a scheme was drawn up, in which the names of certain parties appeared as forming an interim committee. The procuring of these names was occasionally a matter of some difficulty, for it was important that they should be those of wellknown and respected individuals; but in general, names were easily obtained, for on this point there is unfortunately a lax morality. A kind of public meeting is now held to consider the matter; the project is declared to be valid ; the prospectus issued ; and applications are requested to be made for shares. To facilitate these applications, printed letters with blanks are put into the hands of the sharebrokers.' The capital of the company, we shall say, is set down at £50,000, in 5000 shares of £10 each-deposit or tirst payment, £1 per share.
As soon as the affair is thus started, applications for shares pour in. Men not worth £10 in the world will be seen asking for 100 shares; many seek 250; and a vast number will gladly take 20 or 30. Had the scheme been for fifty instead of five thousand shares, there would have been demands for the whole. The committee meet to allocate shares among this craving multitude, reserving a certain number to themselves. An attempt is made to allocate to parties who will hold, but that is usually quite abortive. The allocation letters are issued. Now commences the gambling. An allocation letter for, say twenty shares, requests the bearer, who is named, to pay in his deposit of £l per share to a certain bank, for which a receipt will be given. The receiver of the letter, however, perhaps never intended to take the shares. He has not money to pay the deposit, and his object is to sell his allocation letter to a party who wishes his name to be concealed. For his allocation of twenty shares, therefore, he possibly pockets the miserable sum of 5s. During the mania of 1845, thousands of people thus disposed of their letters; and this new class of gamblers acquired the name of stags. Besides this set of wretches, vast numbers hesitate as to paying the deposit. Not having the most remote idea of taking up shares for the sake of keeping them, but merely for the purpose of selling them over again, they like to wait for a day or two, to hear if the stock is at a premium. If it is, they pay their deposits; if it is not, the allocation letters are thrown in the fire, and there is an end to the undertaking. To guard against this catastrophe is the prime duty of the committee. Nothing can be done without baiting the hook. Two sharebrokers in the confidence of the committee are instructed to buy, on the very day of issuing the letters, as many as five hundred shares, in small odd quantities, at a premium of from 2s. 6d. to 58. per share. These sales are quoted in the share lists; the bait takes; next day all the deposits are paid, and the holders rush away to sell. Nobody, perhaps, will buy: and the shares are therefore almost immediately at a discount.