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Amsterdam Tulip Museum Online

Tulip Book of Postcards from Catalog of P. Cos

Tulip Book of Postcards from Catalog of P. Cos

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This booklet contains 2 copies each of 5 unique Tulip postcards plus envelopes.

The designs and details are pulled from the manuscript nursery catalogue of florist P. Cos during the height of Tulip Mania (from 1634-1637). Perfectly tying in with the interest in oddities and 'curiosities' of the time, the sudden occurrence of striped patterns drove prices into a frenzy.

Some of those prices can be seen on the postcards included here, with the famed blue & white 'Viceroy' eventually being sold for  4,200 florins (more than twice the typical annual earnings of a merchant).

What makes P. Cos's book extraordinary is that the Tulip names are part of the illustration in contemporary paint, sometimes in the form of a riddle. The weight of the bulbs (in 'Aasen', 1 aas = 0.048 grams), and their prices in florins (f) for which they were sold, were added later on in the illustration, as was the title page. 

Unfortunately, the source of the beautiful streaks and stripes displayed on these Tulips would turn out to also be a curse. Research at Wageningen University in 1941 discovered that it was caused by a virus (now known as the 'Tulip breaking virus') that would degrade the bulbs with each new generation until the genetic breed became extinct.

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