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Nicholas Briot was an innovative French coin engraver, medallist and mechanical engineer, who emigrated to England and became chief engraver to the Royal Mint in 1633 and is credited with the invention of the coining-press. He was born Nicolas Briot about 1579 in the Vosges department of France. He is one of a distinguished Huguenot family of patternmakers, diecutters and craftsmen in metal in the 16th and 17th centuries.
After serving his apprenticeship, Briot travelled to Montbéliard and Langres in 1599, where he produced his first portrait engravings. He migrated to Paris in 1605, where he was appointed engraver-general at the Paris mint and produced coronation medals for the young Louis XIII.
He began to experiment with the mechanisation of French coin production, developing improvements in the 'balancier' presses introduced from Nuremberg in Germany for striking coins. He promoted the coining press to replace the traditional hammer-striking methods of coinage production. Briot was unable to convince the French government to adopt his new technology, and was accused of fraud; he fled to England in 1625, pursued by creditors, and offered his services and machinery to Charles I of England. He met with more success than in France, and in 1626 he was commissioned to make puncheons and dies for 'certain pieces of largesse of gold and silver in memory of his Majesty's coronation', producing his successful Coronation Medal. This established his reputation, and he went on to produce a considerable number of dies and moulds for medals and coins in the following years.
In 1633, he was sent to Scotland to prepare and coin the coronation pieces of Charles I, as well as the Scottish Coronation Medal (1633). His Coronation medals and the 'Dominion of the Seas' medal (1630) demonstrated his artistic skill and the technical superiority of the new coining machinery. On the death of the Master of the Mint in Scotland, Briot was appointed to the office in 1635, and superintended the Scottish coinage for several years. He was recalled to England by the king and was appointed chief engraver to the Royal Mint in 1633. On the outbreak of the English Civil War he followed Charles I to York and Oxford; 'he took possession of the punches, roller instruments, and coining apparatus at the Tower, by order of his Majesty, and had them removed for the purpose of continuing the coining operations in the cause of the King'.
He travelled to France in 1641 and 1645, sending presses to his brother Isaac, now in a senior position at the Paris Mint. He died on Christmas Eve 1646. (Wikipedia)