1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Girard, Philippe Henri de

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GIRARD, PHILIPPE HENRI DE (1775-1845), French mechanician, was born at Lourmarin, Vaucluse, on the 1st of February 1775. He is chiefly known in connexion with flax-spinning machinery. Napoleon having in 1810 decreed a reward of one million francs to the inventor of the best machine for spinning flax, Girard succeeded in producing what was required. But he never received the promised reward, although in 1853, after his death, a comparatively small pension was voted to his heirs, and having relied on the money to pay the expenses of his invention he got into serious financial difficulties. He was obliged, in 1815, to abandon the flax mills he had established in France, and at the invitation of the emperor of Austria founded a flax mill and a factory for his machines at Hirtenberg. In 1825, at the invitation of the emperor Alexander I. of Russia, he went to Poland, and erected near Warsaw a flax manufactory, round which grew up a village which received the name of Girardow. In 1818 he built a steamer to run on the Danube. He did not return to Paris till 1844, where he still found some of his old creditors ready to press their claims, and he died in that city on the 26th of August 1845. He was also the author of numerous minor inventions.