|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|
|Number of Object records||258|
|Number of Library records||38|
|Number of Photo records||28|
K&E Draft Clean Powder for Clean Drawings, 58 0680; old N3036, distributed by Keuffel & Esser Company, (NY & Hoboken), no date, ca. 1956-1965. Printed cardboard tube, 2" diameter x 2-1/4" high, printed paper label surrounding entire face; metal sprinkler (perforated) top; metal bottom with removable lid for refilling can. Not stated on the label, but as described in the catalogue, it was a two ounce container. Circa 1956, the company began to use a new stock number system, which is why this product lists new and old stock numbers. The patent number on the back, 2,305,910, is from 1942 and is not a K&E patent. Keuffel & Esser Co. main office and factories were in Hoboken in the period w
Wide frame fixed leg tripod, 5191-8, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, New York, no date, circa 1945-1965. Painted wood with metal fittings, 59" high closed; plastic thread cap with raised lettering: K&E 3 1/2 x 8 [pipe thread diameter and thread pitch which were standard for K&E.] The model number and product name do not appear on the object. Only K&E mark is on cap. Legs, shoe details and sizes correspond to catalog description and depiction in 41st (1949) and 42nd (1954) edition catalogues. Object was typically used in the field for mounting levels, transits, theodolites, etc., by surveyors and engineers. Keuffel & Esser Co. main office and factories were in Hoboken in the period w
K&E Mechanical Lateral Adjuster, model 5171, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (NY & Hoboken), no date, circa 1955-1965. Machined metal (steel & bronze?) and brass; 13" long x 4-3/4" wide x 3" high. Top has 3-1/2" x 8 male thread to mount a transit, jig transit or level; bottom has the same female thread for mounting on tripod or instrument stand. Marked "K&E, Keuffel & Esser Co." on top of slide at end with adjusting screw knob. Model number has not been found on item. This item is part of the Optical Tooling Equipment category as found on page 386 of the 42nd edition catalog, 1954. The appearance of the object here varies from the depiction in the catalog, but that is not uncommon. The
Merchants' slide rule (Mannheim type), 10", model 4094, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. No date, circa 1936-1937. Mahogany, machined and laminated, with laminated white celluloid plastic ruled ("engine divided") scales in red and black; bottom edge has laminated scale with centimeters; top front edge beveled with laminated white celluloid ruler, English measure by inches and sixteenths; 10-5/8" overall length x 1-5/16" high x 3/8" thick. Indicator (cursor), "K&E Co. N.Y. Pat. 8, 17, 15." Back has an inset printed table of settings, formulas and ratios. Serial number: 507540. No lot number. Lacking original case. With: two different printed instruction manuals, catalogued separately as a
Pocket compass, watch pattern, open face, model 5666, 1-3/8", distributed by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. No date, circa 1900-1915. Brass case, 1-3/8" diameter x 3/8" thick; beveled glass crown; stop button. Back is engraved "Made in Germany." K&E name and model number do not appear on this object. It corresponds in all ways to the description and depiction under "Pocket Compasses (Watch Pattern)" on page 436 of 35th edition catalog of 1915. In a revised price list for this edition dated April 1920, it is listed as discontinued. It is likely that World War I disrupted the import of such an item. Catalog description: "Pocket Compass, brass, metal dial graduated ever 2 degrees and numbered
Polyphase (Mannheim type) 10" slide rule, N4053-3, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., (New York), no date, circa 1945-1950. Mahogany, machined and laminated; with laminated white celluloid plastic ruled ("engine divided") scales in red and black; bottom edge has laminated centimeter rule; top front edge beveled with laminated white celluloid ruler, English measure by inches and sixteenths; 10-5/8" overall length x 1-5/16" high x 3/8" thick. Indicator original. Back has an inset printed table of settings, formulas and ratios. Serial number 345627 which appears on the left end of back slide back and on theleft end of centimeter rule on bottom. With: black leather hard case (sheath) blind stam
Topographic Abney Level, model 5713PD, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., (New York), no date, circa 1950-1960. Metal and glass; level tube with black cloth finish, 11/16" square x 6-3/8" long; extends to 7-3/16 open; stainless steel graduated arc circa 4" long x 2-1/2" high; attached glass bubble with brass and steel mount with partial black cloth finish; lens eyepiece. With: sewn tan leather case with belt loop; original two-piece cardboard box with printed label on end. Accompanied by instruction manual, K&E Manual; Abney Levels, copyright 1950. This item is separately catalogued as archives 2009.006.0153.01 The model name and number does not appear on the object. "Keuffel & Esser
Pocket protector with K&E logo issued by Keuffel & Esser Company, New York, no date, circa 1960-1970. White vinyl plastic, 3-1/2" wide x 5-5/8" high; logo in red. Whether a catalog item or an advertising promotional item has not been determined. Typically used by an engineer or draftsperson to prevent soiling or damaging a shirt pocket. Keuffel & Esser Co. main office and factories were in Hoboken up to December 1968.
Surveying compass, model 5335, 2-1/2" needle, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. No date, circa 1894-1900. Bronze case with black finish, two folding sights; glass cover; ring graduated in degrees; needle lock screw on bottom; threaded bottom flange to accept ball joint mount. Case, 3-1/2" diameter x 1/1/8" thick with sights in folded position, 3-1/2" high with sights open; overall height with ball joint & socket mount attached, 5-15/16". With: ball joint and socket fixture (for setting on Jacob staff); original polished mahogany case (5" wide x 4" x 1-3/8" high) with hinged lid and fitted for compass and the ball joint fixture. Model number does not appear on item. Written in pencil i
Paragon proportional dividers, 10", model 806, distributed by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. No date, circa 1955-1970. Stainless steel, closed: 10" long x 1/2" wide x 7/8" thick. With: hinged wood case covered in black grained paper; green velvet lining; printed metal plate inset on bottom of box: "Table of Settings." A tool with many uses for architects, engineers, mapmakers, modelmakers, tool & die makers, drafting room employees and more. Price in 1954 was $37.50 which would be ca. $301 in 2008 dollars. Model number does not appear on item, but it corresponds to the model 806 depicted and described in 42nd edition catalog with a small difference. While drawings of items in catalogues ofte
Transparent Luxylite irregular (french) curves, set of 29, 57 1005 (old 1860S), made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1960-1968. Clear plastic (Luxylite); stamped markings; various shapes and sizes up to ca. 13" long. With original paper covered cardboard slipcase box, 13" x 5" x 2-1/8", with printed paper label on tray end (condition is poor with sleeve lacking a 2 x 3" section on top end; tray end opposite labeled end is loose.) For drafting and design. Individual pieces are marked: K&E; 57 1007-x[curve number]; Keuffel & Esser Co.; Luxylite. Set calls for 29 pieces, 1007-1 to 1007-30; 28 are present and the missing one is 57 1007-12. There is no curve no. 28, individually or as p
Philadelphia rod micrometer target, 81 0239 (formerly 6210T?), made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1960-1975. Oval metal plate painted white with red quadrants, 6" wide x 5" high; vernier steel scale; clamp screw and micrometer adjustment handle. Designed for use on Metagrad Philadelphia 1610 or later leveling rods used by surveyors and engineers. The oval plate is cast with the K&E logo and name in raised letters on the back. Above these letters is the model number ink stamped in black. From 1956-1962, K&E changed over from its traditional basic product number of a four digit code (often supplemented by a letter or letters and/or a hyphenated number) to a new six digit produ
Both's Patent Section Liner and Scale Divider, no. 1159, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, New York, no date, circa 1891-1894. Brass and steel, machined; main flat with protracter and carriage: 13-7/8" long x 3" wide with head at right angle and when standing on surface, 2" high; flat bar with rack: 14-17/8" long x 11/16" wided x 1/4" high to top of brass rack. With: varnished wood hinged box, fitted interior with velvet bottom, with two printed labels inside top; top of lid imprinted in black with product name, griffin trademark and "Manufactured by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York." With: original 4 page instruction manual (catalogued separately as 2009.006.0163.01; due to very poor condition.)
Paragon drafting machine, 1370-30, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken), no date, circa 1955-1965. Metal and plastic. Variable dimensions as used; folded closed without scales attached, circa 36" x 9" x 6". Serial number: 154048. No scales (as issued.) With: pencil tray (model 1382) as issued. Lacking: instruction booklet. No model number appears on the item other than K&E Paragon. The upper arm is 30 inches. Manufacturer's plate is screwed on the anchor (clamp). This plate has six patents numbers, the latest being issued July 1953. K&E main offices and factory were in Hoboken during the period when this was manufactured.
Drawing set, similar to Anvil N996, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y., no date, circa 1925-1940. Pocket case, imitation black leather (embossed paper), 9-3/4" x 4-5/8" deep x 1-1/8" thick; stamped on front at bottom left: 09526; top and bottom flaps with snap closures; hard sides, no flaps. Interior lined with green silk velvet (faded) and fitted for tools. Contents: 9 metal drawing instruments and two nickel plate tubes (one for points; one for leads); plate screwdriver. Ivorite celluloid manufacturer's plate inside at lower right of fitted storage: "Keuffel & Esser Co., NY." Items have no K&E mark and except for the small plate, no other K&E mark such as being imprinted "Anvil"
Abney Reflecting Level, model 5711, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, circa 1900-1920. Metal and glass; brass level tube with smooth black finish, 1/2" square x 5" long; extends to 5-5/8 open; graduated nickel plated arc circa 2" long x 2" high; attached adjustable glass bubble with brass mount with smooth black finish; lens eyepiece. Compass attached to top near eyepiece, 1-3/8" diameter; graduated by 10 degrees with 2 degree increments. With: original polished mahogany hinged top case, 5-3/4" wide x 3" deep x 2-1/8" high, with fitted interior. Bottom mounting hole for attachment to ball joint and socket holder (which is not present; originally issued with item; case is fitted
Leroy lettering template 3240-1000C made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken), no date, circa 1950-1960. Laminated plastic incised with symbols both sides, 18" long x 1-3/4" high x 1/8" thick. With: original two piece slipcase carton with printed paper label on tray end. For use in the Leroy lettering system. Typically used by draftsmen, engineers, mapmakers, geologists, etc. Italic alphabet on side with K&E logo and product number. Italic numerals and symbols on back. Keuffel & Esser Co. main office and factories were in Hoboken in the period when this item was made.
Leroy Adjustable Scriber, model 3237-2 with accessories 3238-12 (Letter Size Adapter) & 3238-3D (Double Ended Tracer Pin), made by the Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y., no date, circa 1950-1960. Aluminum metal with bluish-gray plastic handle and screw knob; metal ball with painted finish. With: paper covered (embossed with K&E logo) slipcase box with printed label on tray end; printed instruction sheet for scriber copyright 1950 (single sheet 2-1/4" high x 13" wide folding to 4-1/2" wide,  pp.); printed pamphlet for Leroy Scriber with Double Ended Tracer Pin (single folio 1-1/8" x 2-3/4" wide,  pp.) All items store in its original box except paper items which are archives 2009.006.0204.01.
Map measure, product 1744T, imported and sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1954-1960. Nickel plated metal and glass, 1-1/2" diameter x 4" high (long handle) x 1/4" thick. Dial is marked black on white face with outer graduations in inches by eighths of an inch and inner dial in feet up to 25 feet. Measuring wheel reads to 1/32 of an inch. With: original two piece cardboard box with printed label on lid. Product number does not appear on object. It appears in the 42nd edition catalog of 1954. Back of case is engraved "Keuffel & Esser Co., Switzerland." Handle is smooth and does not swivel. Other names for this type of measuring device is opisometer or meilograph. The company offer
Drawing tool instrument set, Mercury drawing set 9125-1/2C, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1949-1954. Case: black leather grained cloth, 4-3/4" high x 9-5/8" wide x 1" thick; overlapping flaps with snap closures; fitted interior lined with green velvet; white plastic plate inside at lower right printed in gold "Mercury" and Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. Contents: flat type instruments, brass, chromium plated; 2 celluloid tubes with metal screw caps (appear original, but as depicted in catalog they were metal, but it is not uncommon to find a variant.) Exterior of top flap of case has painted lettering: Government Property | P & E Division | Code 225. (It is unknown which governmen