Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway, (i/'sta?nwe?/) is an American-German piano company, founded in 1853 in Manhattan, New York City, by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later known as Henry E. Steinway). The companys growth led to the opening of a factory in Queens, New York City, and a factory in Hamburg, Germany. The factory in Queens supplies the Americas and the factory in Hamburg supplies the rest of the world. Along with C. Bechstein, Bösendorfer and Blüthner, Steinway & Sons is referred to as one of the "Big Four" piano manufacturers. Steinway has been described as the preeminent piano company, known for making pianos of high quality and for inventions within the area of piano development. Steinway has been granted 126 patents in piano making; the first in 1857. The companys share of the high-end grand piano market consistently exceeds 80 percent. The companys dominant position in the high-end piano market has been criticized, with some musicians and writers arguing that it has blocked innovation and led to a homogenization of the sound favored by pianists. Steinway pianos have received numerous awards. One of the first is a gold medal in 1855 at the American Institute Fair at the New York Crystal Palace. From 1855 to 1862, Steinway pianos received 35 gold medals. Several awards and recognitions followed, including 3 medals at the International Exposition of 1867 in Paris. The European part of the company holds a royal warrant of appointment to Queen Elizabeth II.