Knabe and Company was established in 1839 as Knabe and Gaehle. The founders were William Knabe and Henry Gaehle. They were located in Baltimore, Maryland. William Knabe gained complete control of the company in 1854 when Henry Gaehle left the company. William Knabe died in 1864 and left the company to his two sons, Earnest and William. William passed away in 1889 at the age of 48. Earnest died in 1894.
The company was then incorporated and, in 1908, joined the consolidation of The American Piano Company. In 1932 Aeolian purchased American and became the Aeolian American Company. The factory was located in East Rochester, New York. Later, Knabe became part of the Mason and Hamlin Corporation along with Sohmer, Falcone, and George Steck. The original Mason and Hamlin Company stopped production in 1994.
Knabe was noted for producing some of the most beautiful and sought after pianos. Their dominance in the field of Art Case pianos ran from the 1880's through the 1920's. Most of these Art Case pianos had their cases crafted in Europe and, more specifically, Italy. Some of the more ornate instruments took up to 3 years to craft. Then, the case was returned to the United States for the rest of the piano's parts to be incorporated into the final instrument.
Most of the very ornate Art Case Knabe pianos featured a "cradle" type of leg and lyre system. In this system, for disassembly, the main body of the piano with the case, action, harp, and soundboard structures would be removed from the legs, lyre, and supports intact.