Our Heritage
De La Rue has a long distinguished and fascinating history
 stretching back nearly 200 years.

From the 19th century to today

From humble origins as printer and stationer, De La Rue has expanded into the world’s largest commercial banknote printer with a global presence and customers who include governments, central banks and leading brands.

Find out more about our incredible story by looking at some key dates in our history - from playing card production to the world’s first ATMs.


Thomas de la Rue’s first commercial venture was in 1813, when the first edition of Le Mirror Politique newspaper was published in Guernsey.


Thomas de la Rue set up in London as a printer stationer and fancy goods manufacturer


The modern playing card was evolved with the invention of a new process - the typographical method. Thomas de la Rue was awarded a Royal Letters Patent from King William IV for the manufacture of playing cards.


To celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria, Thomas de la Rue printed a special golden edition of The Sun newspaper.


In 1846 Warren De la Rue invented the envelope folding machine. In one hour the machine could produce 2,700 envelopes. It was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in Crystal Palace, London and at later exhibitions in New York and Paris. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


De la Rue was awarded the contract to print adhesive fiscal stamps for the UK’s Board of Inland Revenue. Not only the first stamps to be surface printed, but they were also the first perforated stamps to be issued.


In 1855, Thomas de la Rue began printing postage stamps, - the Fourpenny Carmine - and obtained the contract for all Indian postal requirements. Contract to print postage stamps for the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Trinidad, Western Australia, Ceylon, Saint Helena, the Bahamas, Natal and St. Luis soon followed.


Thomas de la Rue printed its first paper money - the Mauritius £5, £1 and 10 shilling notes.


De La Rue supplied, to the Confederate States, the only American stamp ever to be produced abroad: the Face Cents Blue, adorned with the head of Jefferson Davis.


The company printed its first greetings card and occupied a prestigious position in the history of the Christmas card, continuing publication of greeting cards until 1885.


De La Rue opened its new London factory, in Bunhill Row, designed by architects Parr & Strong.


De La Rue developed the first practical fountain pens in 1881, which were later to be developed into the famous Onton pen.


In 1896 the family partnership converted into a private company and in 1921 the De la Rue family left the business and the company converted to public ownership.


UK Treasury commissioned Thomas de la Rue to print £1 and 10 shilling notes at the outbreak of war. The Bank of England took over responsibility for the issue of the sterling notes in 1925.


1930 saw the Chinese government’s first order for currency: a vital customer for the next 18 years.


On 11 September 1940 the company’s Bunhill Row factories were destroyed in the Blitz.


De La Rue listed on the London Stock Exchange on 27 March 1947.


In 1957 De La Rue first marketed a banknote counting machine.


Waterlow & Sons banknote and security printing business was acquired.


De La Rue jointly developed and installed the world’s first through-the-wall ATM at Barclay’s Bank in Enfield, UK. Photo used with kind permission of Barclay’s Bank PLC


De La Rue sold its playing card business to John Waddington.


Bradbury Wilkinson was acquired in 1986 and a year later Amblehurst was acquired (later to become De La Rue Holographics).


In 1990 De La Rue House in Basingstoke officially opened as the company’s UK headquarters and in 1991 the Company plc became De La Rue plc.


During 1993 De La Rue joined a consortium called Camelot Group plc which, in 1994, was awarded the licence to operate the UK National Lottery.


De La Rue acquired the Portals Group plc which has manufactured banknote paper for the Bank of England since 1724.


De La Rue acquired Harrison & Sons and Philips Cartes et Systèmes.


In 2003 De La Rue signed a seven year contract to print and supply sterling for the Bank of England, taking over the bank’s manufacturing operation


De La Rue won the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its StarChrome® banknote thread feature


De La Rue won a 10 year contract to produce the UK passport and the Bank of England renewed the contract to print sterling.


De La Rue sold its interest in Camelot.


The first banknote using De La Rue’s Safeguard polymer substrate, the Fiji $5, was unveiled and entered circulation in January 2013


De La Rue celebrated its 200th anniversary.


De La Rue won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation for its super wide Optiks banknote security thread with a clear window in the banknote, and the associated paper making process.


De La Rue launches DLR Identify™, a new citizen centric web based software solution for the secure management, personalisation and storage of citizen identity data.

May 2016

De La Rue sells Cash Processing Solutions Limited.

Aug 2016

De La Rue launches DLR Identify™ for CRVS (Civil Registration and Vital Statistics), a new solution that will help governments to tackle the challenge of citizen identity management and its foundation.

Sep 2016

Sir Winston Churchill Fiver, the first polymer banknote in the UK and printed by De La Rue, is issued into circulation today by the Bank of England.

Sep 2016

The Central Bank of the Bahamas launches first denomination of new family with De La Rue’s Active™ security thread.

Dec 2016

De La Rue acquires DuPont Authentication, a leading global producer of photopolymer holographic films, 3D holograms and associated software.


De La Rue launches DLR Analytics™, a software solution for Central Banks to give data led insight of their Cash Cycle.


De La Rue announces that it has signed up to the United Nations Global Compact sustainability programme.


De La Rue announces that it has entered into a strategic agreement for the Group’s paper business, to be named Portals De La Rue Limited.

Archivist's Blogs

Thomas De La Rue:
Early Days

An inconspicuous beginning for the founder of De La Rue

Playing Cards: Certain Improvements (1831-1855)

The series continues with Thomas'
new venture

Warren De La Rue:
The Great Exhibition (1851)

The son of Thomas De La Rue makes
his mark

Stamps: A Triumph of Science

Security features and gaining a foothold around the world