Born in La Forêt in Guernsey, Thomas de la Rue was apprenticed to a master-printer at St Peter Port in 1803.
He went into business with Tom Greenslade and together they launched the newspaper, Le Publiciste. Shortly thereafter Thomas de la Rue launched his own publication, Le Miroir politique.
In 1816 he left Guernsey for London where he initially established a business making straw hats. Then in 1830 together with Samuel Cornish and William Rock he founded a business of cardmakers, hot pressers and enamellers. De la Rue was the first company who began printing of playing cards, and it received the right to do that in 1831; 1832 was the year when the first deck of cards had been printed out by this company. Soon afterwards, Thomas hired Owen Jones, a well-known designer and architect of that time. By 1837 his wife, both his sons and his eldest daughter were involved in the business. In 1855 Thomas was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur. In 1858 he retired from De La Rue handing over the management of the business to his sons William Frederick and Warren.
Thomas de la Rue died in London in 1866.
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