The Highest Perfection (Hardback)
A History of De La Rue
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De La Rue, a company celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2013, and Portals, which will be 300 years old in 2012, both have magnificent histories of which they can be proud. Very few large firms have lived and thrived for so long. De La Rue is the largest commercial currency printer and papermaker in the world, involved in the production of more than 150 currencies as well as a wide range of security documents such as passports and fiscal stamps. De La Rue is also a leading provider of cash-sorting equipment and software solutions to central banks, helping them to reduce the cost of handling cash. Portals can trace its history back to Henri Portal, a refugee from France who settled at Bere Mill on the River Test in Hampshire in 1712 with a number of other Huguenot papermakers. He founded the company, and through hard work, skill and the shrewd move of tying itself to the Bank of England, Portals thrived and grew through the 18th and 19th centuries, continuing to prosper in the 20th century. It was acquired by De La Rue in the 1990s. Thomas de la Rue had a very humble start in life. Born in Guernsey in 1793, he worked as a printer and eventually moved to London as a straw hat manufacturer. By 1830 he was convinced that he was not going to make his fortune in hats, and he moved into the stationery business and playing cards. From cards Thomas progressed to postage stamps and then in the 1850s to banknotes. Thomas had two very talented sons, Warren and William Frederick. They took the company forward and, by the end of the 19th century, De La Rue was printing stamps and banknotes for countries throughout the world. The fourth generation of de la Rues were not as successful as their predecessors, and in the early 1920s the company had to be rescued by a financier, Sidney Lamert, and a very able businessman, Bernard Westall. These two stabilised the situation and took the company forward until it grew again under the guidance of Arthur (known as Gerry) Norman. In the years since the end of the Second World War, De La Rue has grown steadily into the worldwide operation it is today.