Records of the De La Rue printing firm

Scope and Content

Financial and business records include account books, ledgers, cash books etc. (1837-1964); insurance documents (1871-1936); inventories (1920-1921); J.A. Weir minute books (1896-1921); De La Rue minute books (1919-1948); trade lists and price lists (1849-1911), registers. The collection also contains designs of material produced, including several pieces by Owen Jones, together with proofs and specimens of material such as cards, tickets, labels, diaries, stationery and programmes (1787-1960). Note books and photographs cover a wide range of subjects, including the earliest known English cheque (1664). Printed material includes various extracts and articles from publications relating to De La Rue (1749-1963), together with copies of De La Rue journal nos. 1-46 (1947-1963), Formica journal (incomplete, 1956-1961), Formica vol. 5 no. 3 (1961), Formica news vol. 1 no. 6 (1961), Furniture today nos. 1-10 (1961-1965), System vol. 1 nos. 1 & 2 (1961) , nos. 11 & 12 (1964). Other material relates to members of the De La Rue family, such as 23 extracts from Guernsey church registers, deeds, employment agreements, engravings of Warren De La Rue (1882 & 1894), and news cuttings. The collection also includes specifications for the envelope-folding machine patented by Warren De La Rue.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas De La Rue set up as printer, stationer and manufacturer of fancy goods in London in 1821, having previously been a Guernsey newspaper publisher. The firm of De La Rue was mainly associated with printing postage stamps (from 1855), banknotes, playing cards, diaries and stationery. After the First World War the company became involved in boilers (Potterton's) and plastics (Formica), also launching the successful fountain pen known as the Onoto. De La Rue is still trading and now describes itself as 'the world's largest commercial security printer and paper maker, involved in the production of over 150 national currencies and a wide range of security documents'.

Warren de la Rue (1815-1889), son of Thomas de la Rue, worked in his father's business, where he invented an envelope-folding machine, but also became known as an astronomer and physicist. He carried out research on the discharge of electricity in gases and was the inventor of the silver chloride battery and the photoheliograph for use in celestial photography.


The material is arranged according to the following categories: Albums, Books of account, Certificates, Correspondence, Deeds, Designs, Engravings, Insurances, Inventories, Lists, Minutes, News cuttings, Note books & photographs, Printed material, Proofs, Registers, Specimens, Sundry papers, Oversize.

Access Information

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited at Reading University Library by the De La Rue company in April 1970.


Description prepared by Bridget Andrews.

Information about the De La Rue company is available from their website:

Other Finding Aids

A list is available.


Material is added by the firm occasionally.

Family Names