More regarding Goodall and De La Rue’s relationship . . .

I just received an email from Mike Goodall regarding the relationship between Goodall and De La Rue, and I know I had better dive into the subject again.

I have never been all that comfortable with the relationship between Goodall and De La Rue.  I am not talking about the facts surrounding the 1921 “deal” between the two, which seem hazy, or complicated, or both.  Rather, I am talking about the fact that Goodall and De La Rue entered into any agreement at all.

I gather that the idea was to create advanced “economies of scale.”  The whole company would be more efficient — and, hey, there would be elimination of a significant amount of competition.

Yet I have never seen anyone say that the Goodall-De La Rue combine brought about a new era in playing-card manufacture.

If you look up De La Rue on Wikipedia, most of what it says about playing-cards is found in this quotation:  “In 1843 De La Rue established its first overseas trade, as de la Rue’s brother Paul travelled to Russia to advise on the making of playing cards. Thomas de la Rue’s designs [I guess this really means the Goodall designs.  –Tom] for playing cards are the basis for the modern standard design. The playing card business was sold to John Waddington in 1969.”  Here is basically the rest: “Working as a ‘boy of the streets’, in 1831 his [De La Rue’s] business secured a Royal Warrant to produce playing cards [. . .].”

That is pretty incomplete as an account of De La Rue’s playing-card business.

Nowadays, De La Rue is involved in businesses that have, I gather, no connection at all with the playing-card industry.

In any event, now the two companies — Goodall and De La Rue — are basically gone as playing-card manufacturers.

The email from Mike points out that the basic idea in 1921 was one of the amalgamation of four companies:  Goodall, De La Rue, Weir (basically a paper-manufacturer), and Warrilows (basically a printer).

Mike sent me a copy of an article from (I believe) The British Stationer, December 10, 1921, entitled, “An Important Amalgamation.”  The article paints a rosy picture of the future that was foreseen for the firm.

The article gives no intimation of De La Rue’s powerful role in the new operation. But Mike points out that De La Rue put more money into the deal.

Members of the Board of Directors mentioned in the article are as follows.  I have kind of made the terminology more consistent, but this should be pretty accurate:

Mr. Gronow (formerly of Waterlow Bros., a printer of currency):  Managing Director

Stuart De La Rue:  Chairman

Mr. Hooper (from Warrillows):  Deputy Chairman

Charles Goodall (from Goodall)

Eric G. Underwood (from De La Rue)

I wonder whether that was the entire Board (five members).  If so, even there it looks as though De La Rue held the best cards, so to speak.

P.S.  Thanks to Mike for a correction that I have now implemented above regarding one of the names.

—Tom Sawyer

January 13, 2012

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