Netherlands €10 2012. Tulip. Gold Proof. 400 Years of Diplomatic Relations with Turkey.
The first Netherlands commemorative coin of 2012 is labeled as a celebration of 400 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey (until 1923, the Ottoman Empire). Yet, from looking at the coin you would hardly know it, since the dominant image on each side of it is that quintessential symbol of Holland, a tulip. The explanation is simple: It was in the Ottoman Empire that the commercial cultivation of the flower began perhaps as early as 1000 AD and it was most likely introduced to Europe through diplomatic travels during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). Carolus Clusius, a Viennese biologist first planted tulips in Vienna's Imperial Botanical Gardens in 1573 and later at the University of Leiden's Hortus Botanicus, where he was named director in 1593. Consequently, 1594 is said to be the date of the tulip's first flowering in the Netherlands. Although it was initially used for medicinal purposes, by the start of the 17th century, the tulip found its place as a garden decoration, and then as an aritcle for trade. As interest in the flower grew, bulbs began to sell for ridiculous prices. Between 1634 and 1637 the enthusiasm for the new flowers triggered a speculative frenzy now known as “tulip mania.” Tulips became so expensive that they were treated as a form of currency. Just before the tulip market collapsed in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs were selling for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman, or even more than the cost of a house. This is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble and “tulip bubble” has become a part of many languages.
The obverse of the coin shows a small head of Queen Beatrix with an open tulip as the national symbol. On the reverse is a closed tulip seen in conjunction with the star and crescent of the Turkish flag, said by the Dutch Mint to be a metaphorical representation of the native land of the tulip.
This €5 sterling silver (.925) coin is 15.5 grams and measures 33 mm. It is struck only in proof quality with a mintage of 12,500 pieces.