Tulip Varieties a Hundred Years Ago

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, October 8, 1913:

10/6 – 10/8:  I’ve husked about ten loads of corn by this time. My hands are sore and roughened, but I didn’t care very much. I’m thinking of what I’m earning.

Source: McCall's Magazine (September, 1913)

Source: McCall’s Magazine (September, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write a diary entry specific for this date, I’m going to go off on a tangent—

I found this advertisement for tulip bulbs in the September, 1913 issue of McCalls magazine. I wondered if I could buy these old varieties so I googled them. Here’s what I found:

Crimson King

Nothing popped up when I googled  “Crimson King tulip”. I wonder if the Crimson King tulip and the Red Emperor tulip are slightly different names for the same variety. The Red Emperor tulips are so common today.

White Queen

I couldn’t find any place where I could buy the White Queen tulip, but I did find a photo of them on The Tulip Gallery website.


White Queen Tulip

Yellow Prince

I found a picture of the Yellow Prince tulip on the Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs website—though I don’t think that they had any bulbs available for sale this year.


Yellow Prince Tulip

Cottage Maid

I couldn’t find any place where I could buy the Cottage Maid tulip, but I did find a photo of them on the Hortus Tulipus Old Tulips website.


Cottage Maid Tulip

Keiser’s Kroon

The Keiser’s Kroon tulip is still sold by several companies—though it generally goes by its Dutch name, Keizerskroon. One source for the bulbs is Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs.


Keiser’s Kroon Tulip


43 Responses

  1. These are beautiful. I’m reading the book Tulipomania right now. They have a fascinating history. I had no idea.

  2. Wonderful photos…the White Queen tulips being my favorite :-)

  3. Fascinating to see which bulbs are still available. Fashions in flowers change almost as much as fashion in clothing.

  4. My mom always told me that tulips were my dad’s favorite flower (he passed away when I was an infant.) Oddly enough, my mom never planted tulips, and I haven’t either…

  5. I just absolutely LOVE tulips. Beautiful photos.

    • So do I. Writing this post reminded me that I want to plant some more tulips this fall, and that I’ve got to go to the store and buy some.

  6. I love the research you share when you compare and contrast today’s times to 100 years ago.

  7. Beautiful flowers! Tulips are my favorite :)

  8. I love those dark purple, almost black tulips…any idea what they’re called?

  9. Sheryl, what a beautiful tangent you took us on!

    Blessings ~ Wendy

  10. It makes me sad that so many of them are no longer available! They really are all so lovely . . .

    • I wonder why they’ve apparently been replaced by other varieties over the years. . . were they less hardy than modern varieties? .. . more susceptible to diseases? . . . no longer considered fashionable? .

  11. It is that time of year to plant tulips so I really enjoyed your tangent :) Annie

    • I need to plant some more tulips this fall. Many of my tulips have died out over the years (probably because I forgot to periodically dig them up and divide the bulbs).

  12. Beautiful and wonderful – I so love tulips!

  13. Interesting that you researched the heirlooms. It’s sad to think what we’ve lost.

  14. Thanks so much for searching all these out and giving us a look at what must have been in our grandparents’ gardens. I definitely remember Kaiser’s Crown! It reminds me of my grandpa Burr.

    • I think that I saw them (or a very similar variety) for sale at a local store a couple weeks ago. I’m thinking about going back and buying a package of them.

  15. There is nothing so elegant as white tulips on the table! I love those White Queens!

  16. Tulips are pretty and they remind me of Holland :-)

  17. My sister-ilaw orders them by the dozens. I adore the pastel ones. At our last house I planted early and late blooming in piles of pink, yellow and mauve…..I miss them.

  18. This posting turns out to be beautiful. Thanks.

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