ABOUT WM. KNABE & CO.
Wilhelm Knabe was born in Creuzburg, Saxe-Weimar, on June 3, 1803. The French campaigns in Germany in 1813 prevented him from studying to become an apothecary like his father, and instead he apprenticed with a cabinet maker, after which he worked two years as a journeyman cabinet maker, then for three years for a piano maker in Gotha, before working as a journeyman piano maker in different cities in Germany.
In 1831 Knabe accompanied his fiancee’s family when they emigrated from Saxe-Meiningen to the United States, but the head of the family died during the voyage and Knabe and his bride remained in Baltimore instead of continuing to Hermann, Missouri, where a brother had settled several years earlier. Knabe worked for the well-known pianomaker Henry Hartge, and eventually abandoned his plans to become a farmer. Four years later he started selling and repairing used pianos from his house at the corner of Liberty and Lexington Streets.