|Name||Keuffel & Esser Co.|
A manufacturer of drafting, surveying, architectural and engineering tools (including the slide rule, a device that they introduced to America) that established itself in Hoboken in 1875. While founded in New York City in 1867 and where it maintained a "Parent Office", by 1880 it began to build what became a complex of buildings for general offices and factories in Hoboken on the north side of Third Street running from Clinton to Adams Streets including the one with a four-sided clock tower in 1907. Company is often referred to as "K&E".
They issued circa 45 editions of their catalog which are the major resource for identifying their production. Many items are marked as "Keuffel & Esser, N.Y." or "K&E, N.Y." They were actually made or assembled in Hoboken. Some products also have the Hoboken name and/or address on them plus on some printed labels and in catalogs, the artist's bird's-eye view of the Hoboken buildings which was captioned "General Office and Factories in Hoboken, N.J."
Not all items were made in Hoboken; some products or parts were imported from Britain, Switzerland and Germany et al (and were marked with the country of origin), but Hoboken served as the point for packaging and distribution. The range of catalogue products was extensive, but they also produced a large number of items that did not appear in their catalogues, such as scientific apparatus, machine tools, government and military orders, etc. It should be noted that dating items and serial numbers related to the their lines is problematic. The company is no longer in business, although its trademarks are owned by another corporation.
The company left Hoboken circa 1967-68 for a new center of operations in Morristown, New Jersey. The building with the clock tower was converted to residential housing in the 1970's, one of the earliest examples of the adaptive re-use of industrial buildings for living. The apartment house is now commonly called The Clock Tower Building.
The information provided below is as published by the source. It should be noted that there are variances in dates relating to Keuffel and Esser.
From National Museum of American History, Behring Center, 2008.
William J. D. Keuffel (1838–1908) and Herman Esser (1845–1908), both recent immigrants from Germany, began in business in New York in 1867, selling drawing materials and drafting supplies. K&E, as the firm was soon known, began offering surveying instruments in 1876, built a three-story factory in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1880. and was incorporated in 1889.
K&E introduced a new line of surveying instruments in the early 1890s, describing them as "a thorough departure from all the styles of similar instruments previously made," and noting that many of their improvements were "the product of the genius of our Mr. John Paoli." John Paoli was an Italian who lived in Hoboken, and who obtained several patents for such things as the twisted standards of a transit, the compass box, the leveling screws, and a telescope with stadia wires and cross hairs.
K&E obtained control of Young & Sons in 1918, and made it the Y&S department of their firm. K&E ceased production around 1969. [Not correct]
Information on collection at New Jersey Historical Society as of June 2008. http://www.jerseyhistory.org/findingaiddirnb.php?dir=EAD/faid2000&aid=mg1639#a1
Guide to the Keuffel & Esser Company Papers
The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
© 2006 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Processed by Nikki Taheri.
Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. July 2006. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.Finding aid written in English.
Creator: Keuffel & Esser Co.
Title: Keuffel & Esser Company Papers
Abstract: The collection consists mostly of materials pertaining to the Hoboken, NJ based company Keuffel & Esser, manufacturers of drafting and surveying equipment.
Quantity: 10 linear feet (5 manuscript boxes and approx. 50 rolls)
Collection Number: MG 1639
Wilhelm Johann Diedrich Keuffel and Herman Esser were partners in the firm of Keuffel & Esser which was founded in July 1867 at 79 Nassau St. Manhattan. They were two German immigrants,who were importers and jobbers of drawing materials and mathematical and surveying instruments. Keuffel (1838-1908), born in Walbeck, Germany and was employed in the hardware business in Germany and Birmingham, England, prior to his immigration to Hoboken, NJ, in 1866. The next year he joined with Herman Esser (1845-1908) who was originally from Wuppertal-Elbertfeld. In 1875, the firm was incorporated as Keuffel & Esser Company (also known as K & E) and moved from Manhattan to Third and Grand Street in Hoboken, New Jersey. Wilhelm J. D. Keuffel died in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1908. Herman Esser retired from Keuffel & Esser Co. in 1902. He was back in Bad Godesberg am Rheim, Germany in April of 1902 and died there in April 1908. The company continued to prosper under new leadership.
In the coming decades, Keuffel & Esser began to expand, opening showrooms, offices and new factories in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Detroit, and Montreal. They first manufactured surveying instruments in 1885 and introduced an innovative new line of surveying equipment in the 1890s. The company's first product was hard rubber curves and triangles. Later products included drafting paper, surveying instruments, and drafting aids such as slide rules. Keuffel & Esser held patents for a wide range of slide rule features, including improved cursor indicators, functions and scales, and the adjustable body mechanism. The company was so successful that in 1965 it went public on NASDAQ. However, in the coming years, rapid changes in technology including the development of calculators, CAD systems and laser surveying systems, had a detrimental effect on Keuffel & Esser, which shrank drastically after 1972. In 1982 Keuffel & Esser filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and eventually was bought out by several companies including Azon Corporation. Currently, Azon Corporation owns the Keuffel & Esser name and trademarks.
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains records of the Keuffel & Esser Company including correspondence, reports, minutes, ledgers, equipment drawings, architectural drawings and plans, corporate records, proposals and lease agreements and contracts pertaining to both their domestic and international business.
**Special note:** This collection in only partially processed. There are hundreds of architectural and equipment drawings that have not been processed or incorporated into this finding aid. They are stored in both 5th floor storage and at the offsite facility. Patron access of these drawings is currently very limited. These drawings will be incorporated into the rest of the collection at a later time.
The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Grogan, Edward T.
Keuffel, Wilhelm J. D.
Nye, Thomas R.
Schermerhorn, H. F.
Volpe, George S.
Wood, Sam Jr.
Keuffel & Esser Co.
Surveying instrument industry.
See also: Four Keuffel & Esser Catalogs, 6th floor books, Call numbers 681.2 K42-K516 (6th floor stacks)
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1639, Keuffel & Esser Co. Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Donated by Susan I. Sherwood, 2004.
Series Descriptions and Container List
Series 1: Corporate Records
Scope and Content:
This series contaings items pertaining to the corporate activities of Keuffel & Esser from many of their offices including those in Seattle, Washington, Puerto Rico, Canada, including meeting minutes, stock certificate books, insurance records and lease agreements.
Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Company correspondence, mostly pertaining to the property on the West Ohio Street lot in Chicago 1911-1945
1 2 Minutes of meeting of the board of directors of Keufel & Esser companies in USA 1960-1969
1 3 Minutes of meeting of the board of directors of Keufel & Esser companies in USA 1970-1989
1 4 Corporate records of H.Dell Foster Co., subsidiary of Keufel & Esser 1970-1979
1 5 Corporate records Limited of Keufel & Esser in Ontario, Canada 1960-1964
1 6 Corporate records Limited of Keufel & Esser in Ontario, Canada 1965-1969
1 7 Corporate records Limited of Keufel & Esser in Ontario, Canada 1970-1979
1 8 Corporate records Limited of Keufel & Esser in Ontario, Canada 1980-1989
1 9 Corporate records of Keufel & Esser Company of Washington Inc. (Seattle, Washington) 1955-1961
Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Laser Systems & Electronic, Inc. of Tullahoma, TN minutes of directors meetings--Affiliate of Keuffel & Esser 1974-1979
2 2 Incorporation records of Keuffel & Esser in Puerto Rico 1968-1985
2 3 Incorporation records of Keuffel & Esser in NJ and Delaware 1968-1985
2 4 Keuffel & Esser of Wisconsin stock certificate books (2) ca. 1950s
2 5 Contracts 1980s
2 6 Clerk's handwritten notes 1985-1886
Box Folder Title Date
3 1 Invoices 1960s-1990s
3 2 Keuffel & Esser real estate in Hoboken n.d.
3 3 Correspondence regarding insurance 1970s
3 4 Rokuoh Keuffel & Esser (Japanese Joint Venture) 1980s
3 5 Lease agreements (mostly pertaining to Belgium) 1970s-1980s
3 6 Keuffel & Esser Chicago branch documents
3 7 Equipment lease agreements 1967-1975
3 8 Equipment lease agreements 1976
3 9 Equipment lease agreements 1977-1984
Series 2: Product/Work/Plan/Architecural Records
Scope and Content:
This series contains materials pertaining to the products produced by or related to Keuffel & Esser including information about products offered, architectural building plans, equipment information and manuals.
Box Folder Title Date
4 1 Product quotations 1970s
4 2 Paperwork NIP Height Gauge--T Machine 1970s
4 3 Taconic Plot Plans 1970s
4 4 Hazardous Product Listing and Product Safety Information 1950s-1970s
4 5 Production record book 1962-1982
4 6 Production record book 1983-2002
Box Folder Title Date
5 1 Installation and Maintenance instructions 1983-2002
5 2 Equipment Information 1983-2002
5 3 Product catalog Leroy Products group 1983-2002
5 4 Operators Instruction Manual--Blade Coater 1983-2002
5 5 Building Guidelines (Belgium) 1973-1975
5 6 Building Plans (mostly Belgium) n.d.
5 7 Equipment drawings 1973-1975
|Number of Archive records||178.0|
|Number of Object records||258.0|
|Number of Library records||38.0|
|Number of Photo records||28.0|
Directory of Municipal Services, Hoboken, N.J., no date, ca. 1972-1973. Pamphlet, 8-1/2" wide x 10" high,  pp. plus cover. Illustrated. 2 copies. See related for other copies. Although undated, it has a 1972 mention on page  ("If Hoboken is to grow... for the Hoboken Business Corp. in 1972) and a reference to the K&E redevelopment to "begin in 1972" on page . Images whose location can be placed: page 1: Madison Street Playground back page: view southwest from pier end of Bethehem Steel Shipyard pier 1 with crane and Maxwell House Coffee plant in background. Programs and services mentioned or described: Hoboken Urban Corp. Aspira, Inc. Day Care 100 College & Career Ser
Hoboken Survey: Recreation & Culture. Hoboken Model Cities Program, Hoboken, no date, ca. 1971. Booklet, 8-1/2" wide x 11" high,  pp. plus illustrated cover. Includes two printed enclosures laid-in: letter from Mayor Louis DePascale; letter from Michael Coleman, Director, Hoboken Model Cities Program.
Directory of Municipal Services, Hoboken, N.J., no date, ca. 1972-1973. Pamphlet, 8-1/2" wide x 10" high,  pp. plus cover. Illustrated. See related: archives catalog 2001.022.0003 for other copies including images of all pages plus some detail of programs describe and people whose names are found in the text.
Hoboken ...Reaching Out to Tomorrow. Community Development Agency, Hoboken, May 1975. Oblong booklet, 8-3/8" high x 11" wide. 36 pp. plus cover, illustrated. 3 copies (copies 2 & 3 in second file folder.) Copy 1: booklet with enclosed greeting on letterhead of the Office of the Mayor, and signed in facsimile by the mayor, Steve Cappiello. With: mailing envelope. Credits on pg 36. See related for selected reference images especially center map with detail images.
Digital image of architect's rendering of the proposed restoration of the Keuffel & Esser building, Hoboken, from pg  of archives catalog 2002.026.0002, 1975. The view is looking northwest. The clock tower is at the corner of Third and Adams Sts.
Hoboken Survey: Recreation & Culture. Hoboken Model Cities Program, Hoboken, no date, ca. 1971.Booklet, 8-1/2" wide x 11" high,  pp. plus illustrated cover.
Digital images of Hoboken Review, Volume 1, No. 3, September-October 1938. Issued by The Chamber of Commerce, 1 Newark St., Hoboken. Booklet, 6" x 9" high. 16 pp. plus cover. Museum does not own the original. Page 2-3: The Business Front General Foods Building $1,000,000 Plant. Article about the groundbreaking on June 6, 1938 for the Maxwell House, Sanka and Kaffee Hag coffees and Maxwell House Tea factory. Site was owned by the Lackawanna Railroad which had World War [One] warehouses and was used a lumberyard until the sale. The Hoboken Police Band played at the groundbreaking ceremony. "Tootsie Roll" (Sweets Company of America) moved to Hoboken in March; located at 1515 Willow
Hoboken Historic Sites Walking Tour. No date, ca. 1985-86. Issued by Hoboken Professional and Retail Business Association. Updated and revised version of 1976 edition. Created by the the Community Development Agency. Single sheet, 18-1/2" high x 24" wide, printed both sides, folded to 9-1/4" x 12". Front panel has logo of business association Full interior (reverse) has printed text with 43 numbered and described sites on the the tour (earlier version had 34). A map with key numbers is at center. Text titled "Preservation Hoboken-Style" on one panel is same text with some small deletions. The three photos that appear in this version were taken by Ken Clare: exterior of Our Lady of Gra
Flexible or Pocket Leveling Rod., No. 6330 (8 feet). Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, no date, circa 1900-1908. Lithographed (red, black and gold) metal can with slip lid, 2-1/2" diameter x 3-1/2" high. Contents: laminated canvas fabric measuring tape, 3" wide x 8 feet (ca. 8'-8" overall length); white ground printed with markings in black and red by feet divided by tenths and hundreths of a foot; back is gray and unprinted. K&E logo, griffin trademark and product number imprinted at top end. Product name also appears on the can and lid with the lid also having the model number. This model was the shortest of the 4 models offered in this period. (Date estimated by branch of
Article: Mayo, Lynch is Bullish on Hoboken. By Donald DeMaio, Center for Analysis of Public Issues, Princeton, N.J. Article appeared in New Jersey Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 9, February 1977. Five leaves,  pages with photographs. Digital images. Reference copy on file. PDF on file. Discusses relationship of architecture and engineering firm Mayo, Lynch with City of Hoboken and individuals within and outside the government. Projects discussed include the Model Cities program, Community Development Agency, Sewerage Authority. Includes mention of Hoboken Environment Committee and Center for Municipal Studies and Services, Stevens Institute of Technology. Also mentioned are several business
Digital images of program: A.J. Demarest Class of June 1961 Presents "Old Hoboken", A Melodrama with Music; Mystery - Comedy - Romance -Music; at A.J. Demarest High School, Hoboken, May 19-20, 1961. Original item, 6" wide x 9" high,  pp. Reference copy on file. PDF on file. Page  is a thumbnail history of Hoboken.
Hoboken in the 70s: Model Cities, Affordable Housing and the Future. Text of a lecture written June 22nd and presented by Robert Armstrong, June 24, 2007, at the Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St. Event was a part of lecture series related to the current exhibition, In Transition: Hoboken in the 1970s. 11 pp. Also presenting on the same program was Michael Coleman. Page 11 includes a list of a number of people to whom the paper is dedicated along with a biography of Armstrong.
Envelope from Keuffel & Esser Company, Drawing Materials, Surveying Instruments, Measuring Tapes, P.O. Box 531, Hoboken, N.J. Postmarked October 15, 1934. 6-1/2" wide x 3-1/8" high; empty. Addressee was in Switzerland. Envelope has printed line at front lower right: Per Steamer_____________.
Document: holographic biography of Michael Coleman written by him as text for introduction read by Robert Foster at lecture, Hoboken Historical Museum, Hoboken, June 24, 2007. Single leaf, written on both sides. Coleman delivered a lecture as part of series related to the current exhibition, In Transition: Hoboken in the 1970s. Also presenting a lecture on the same program was Robert Armstrong: Hoboken in the 70s: Model Cities, Affordable Housing and the Future.
Oak storage case for a surveyor's transit, Keuffel & Esser Company, Hoboken, no date, ca. 1910-1930.
Article: Mayo, Lynch is Bullish on Hoboken. By Donald DeMaio, Center for Analysis of Public Issues, Princeton, N.J. Article published in New Jersey Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 9, February 1977. Five leaves,  pages with photographs. See archives 2006.052.0020 for images of article. Discusses relationship of architecture and engineering firm Mayo, Lynch with City of Hoboken and individuals within and outside the government. Projects discussed include the Model Cities program, Community Development Agency, Sewerage Authority. Includes mention of Hoboken Environment Committee and Center for Municipal Studies and Services, Stevens Institute of Technology. Also mentioned are several businesses
Time Machine Magazine, Hoboken, N.J. No. 9, December (1976). Booklet, 8-1/2" wide x 11" high, 18 pp., illustrated. Published by Jim Hans. This is volume 1, pages numbered  to . Three-page article starting on page 151 "America's First Conversion of a Factory Into a Family Housing Project" about the adaptive re-use of the former Keuffel & Esser Co. west building with the clock tower. Recounts the company's history.
Elementary Instructions for Operating the Slide rule. Mannheim type. Copyright 1928 by Keuffel & Esser Co. Sixteen page booklet, 6" x 9", that accompanied objects 2008.012.0085 - Beginner's slide rule, model 4058W (Mannheim type), 10 inch, made by Keuffel & Esser Co.in Hoboken, no date, circa 1928-1950. See related. Pages 1-4 are imaged. They were a single folio attached to the rest of the booklet, but is now detached. As is typical this item was rolled around the slide rule and stored in the case thus showing creases and edge damage from being pulled in and out. Although copyrighted 1928, this does not mean this was the date of sale or issue of this slide rule, but the style of this
Elementary Instructions for Operating the Slide rule. Mannheim type. Copyright 1928 by Keuffel & Esser Co., probably 1942-1950 printing. Booklet, 6" x 9", 16 pages plus cover, intended for use with a beginner's slide rule such as the 4058 model (Mannheim type) made by Keuffel & Esser Co.in Hoboken. Although it states "New York" K&E manufactured in Hoboken in this period. Cover is printed, inside front and back cover is blank; the back cover has stock/production codes at the bottom along with code "9142" over "Printed in U.S.A." Comparing to archives 2010.023.0004, note the front title typeface has been reset. The cover title does not mention the Mannhiem type, but all other content i
Caricature of C.M. Bernegau, [Hoboken, n.d., ca. 1907-1916]. Being leaf  as found in album, "Just for Fun"; archives catalogue 2005.018.0001. See this entry for full description of work. See related. He is depicted driving a carriage with two horses with the Keuffel & Esser Co. factory in the background. He was an officer of the company.