In the mid 1600s, the Netherlands were seized with a madness for tulips. Now considered one of the classic examples of a financial bubble, at the height of tulipmania in 1637, it is said that a single bulb for an exceptionally lovely flower went for more than ten times the average worker’s annual wage. Abruptly in February 1637 prices plummeted, and the mania came to a speedy end. Jan Brueghel the Younger painted this “Satire on Tulip Mania” c. 1640, poking fun at speculators and tulip merchants gambling their fortunes away. Please note monkey in lower right, who seems to have realized something is amiss.
Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (link to Project Gutenberg)