The Höfner company was founded by Karl Höfner (1864 – 1955) who, having been apprenticed to Anton Schaller as a violin maker, sold his first violins in 1887. He established his works at Schönbach then the European centre of stringed instrument making. His reputation grew and so did his business as he sold instruments of the finest quality throughout Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and other European countries. Karl brought two of his sons, Josef and Walter, into the business just after the First World War and they quickly began to expand the business, particularly into export markets. Thus Höfner gained not only a European reputation but a world-wide one as manufacturers of quality stringed instruments.