The tulip is perhaps the quintessential symbol of the Netherlands,
but the Dutch actually owe the symbolic flower to the Turks.
This relationship between the Netherlands and what is now Turkey
is featured on the first Dutch commemorative coins of 2012.
The subject of the �5 and �10 coins is the 400th anniversary of
the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and
the Ottoman Empire (which became the Republic of Turkey in 1923), but
tulip symbols dominate both sides of the commemorative coins.
The designs and topic are curious given the tension and outright
violence (including the assassination of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in
Amsterdam) in the past decade as Islamic culture collided with Dutch
culture, but understandable given those cultures’ shared connection.
The explanation is simple: It was in the Ottoman Empire that the
commercial cultivation of the tulip began, perhaps as early as A.D.
1000, and the flower was most likely introduced to Europe through
diplomatic travels during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520
The tulip was planted at the University of Leiden’s Hortus
Botanicus in the late 1590s, and 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 article
As interest in the flower grew, bulbs began to sell for hysterical
prices. Between 1634 and 1637 the enthusiasm for the new flowers
triggered a speculative frenzy now known as “tulip mania.”
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 more than the cost of a house.
The market for the bulbs is generally considered the first
recorded speculative bubble, and “tulip bubble” has become a part of
The shared obverse design shows a small head of Queen Beatrix with
a large open tulip.
On the shared reverse design is a large closed tulip seen in
conjunction with a small star and crescent taken from the Turkish
flag, said by the Dutch Mint to be a metaphorical representation of
the native land of the tulip.
The designs were created by Deniz Seyda Tunca.
Several different coins of the same designs are being offered.
Uncirculated and Brilliant Uncirculated silver-plated copper �5
coins are being offered, as are a Proof .925 fine silver �5 coin and
Proof .900 fine gold �10 coin.
The copper-plated coins both weigh 10.5 grams and measure 29
millimeters in diameter. The Uncirculated example has a mintage limit
of 250,000 pieces and the BU example is limited to 15,000 pieces.
The silver coin weighs 15.5 grams, measures 33 millimeters in
diameter and has a mintage limit of 12,500 pieces. The gold coin
weighs 6.72 grams, measures 22.5 millimeters in diameter and has a
mintage limit of 2,000 pieces.
Distributor Coin & Currency Institute offers three of the four coins.
The Uncirculated �5 coin is available from the firm for $16.50,
the Proof silver �5 coin is available for $53.95 and the Proof gold
�10 coin for $589. Shipping and handling are an additional $5.75 per
order, and Vermont residents must add 6 percent sales tax.
To order, contact the Coin & Currency Institute at P.O. Box
399, Williston, VT 05495, email it at email@example.com,
telephone it at 800-421-1866, fax it at 802-536-4787 or visit its
website at www.coin-currency.com. ■