And then people started playing the market and inflating the prices and, well, it was just a matter of time until things got really, really stupid.
What Went Wrong?
At the peak of trading in the early months of 1637, the futures market had gotten so out of hand that even a single tulip bulb had become ridiculously valuable. While no one really agrees just how insane the prices became, it's understood that some bulbs were trading for at least 10 times the annual wage of a skilled craftsman. That's 10 years' salary for one, solitary flower that just goes into the garden and sits there.
Get a job!
Eventually a whole lot of people stopped and said, "What the fuck are we doing?" and the bubble burst, the price of tulips falling back down to sane levels. The downside is that a whole bunch of people had locked themselves into tulip contracts during the height of the craze, and were therefore committed to handing over the family fortune for something that was worth about a buck fifty.
Financial ruin never smelled so sweet.