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III
THE HYACINTH TRADE

From De Koning's Tafereel der Stad Haarlem (1808)

DE Koning gives us an account of the hyacinth trade which began in 1730, and which continues to the present day. It was not so astonishing as the tulip trade, and though the price of the hyacinth did not rise as high as that of tulips, yet fancy prices were paid for some :-

Passe non plus ultra fetched ..................1850 florins
Gloria Mundi eenjong ,, .............................650     ,,
Tempel Salomons ,, ..................................450     ,,
Pram Sieraad ,, .........................................400     ,,

From these figures one can see that the price of a favourite hyacinth could not be compared to the price paid for a tulip bulb, but to this day hyacinth culture is a trade by which people can really live profitably (this was 1808). Not only at Amsterdam, where there are many fields of hyacinths, but in many other Dutch towns, whence the bulbs are sent to all countries. In Haarlem many of the bulb growers living outside the Groot and Kleine Hour Poort had to send away such quantities to foreign countries that the spaces near their houses became too small to plant them out, so they were forced to rent more ground to make new flower-fields, as their trade was increasing so rapidly. These flower-fields, so neatly and cleanly kept, made very beautiful surroundings to our town. When the hyacinths are in full flower they are, with their different colours, row upon row, a very beautiful sight, and many people are thus attracted to visit our country. For bulb growers themselves it is a pleasant time; they all meet and talk over the new sorts, and discuss their culture with no small degree of excitement; they collect under the shelters erected over the best sorts, and there stand smoking their pipes and relating to each other their various experiences and the experiments they have tried. Prices are no longer so high as in 1730. We have known, even in our own day, the "Ophir," now become so common that it has scarce any value at all, sold for 8600 guldens, which shows what people are willing to pay for a rare flower.


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