Knopf workshop cello bow, circa 1900
The illustrious Knopf dynasty of luthiers based in Markneukirchen, Germany includes several bow makers over five generations. The patriarch of the family, Christian Wilhelm Knopf (1767-1837) contributed toward the development of the screw and eyelet system in the frog, and trained his sons Karl Wilhelm Knopf (1803-1860) and Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Knopf (1815-1897). The business was passed to Karl Wilhelm's sons Heinrich Carl Knopf (1839-1875) and Johann Wilhelm Knopf (1835-1912), who would establish himself in Dresden.
One of the more prolific makers of the Knopf dynasty, H. R. Knopf, was born into the next generation: Henry (Heinrich) Richard Knopf (1860-1939), son of Heinrich Carl, who excelled in both violin and bow making. After training at his family's workshop in Markneukirchen, Henry followed his uncle Johann Wilhelm to Dresden to work at the renowned bow workshop of Ludwig Bausch. He later moved to Berlin to apprentice in violin making and restoration with G. Christian Adam, then immigrated to the United States in 1879 to settle in New York City, where he established one of the very first violin workshops in the country in 1880. With assistance from his sons Eugene and Richard Knopf, the business of H. R. Knopf and Sons Violins, located on West 45th Street, grew to become one of the most successful American violin firms of the early 20th century.