|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|
Drawing tool instrument set, Doric brand, Jupiter 9406, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1955-1962. 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 purple velvet. Contents: flat type instruments, brass, chromium plated(?) Most major parts are stamped: K&E Co. Germany. Exterior of case is stamped on top at lower right: K&E (logo) Doric | Jupiter | 9406. This is the only product reference. Catalog reference has not been found for this set. The Jupiter line appears to have been introduced in the late 1950s and continued even after the company left Hoboken in December 1968. The four digit produ
Cooke Radio Slide Rule, model 4139, 10" duplex, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, circa 1955-1956. Mahogany, machined and laminated, nickel metal brackets, with laminated white celluloid plastic ruled ("engine divided") scales in red and black; 12-1/8" overall length x 1-1/4" high x 1/4" thick. Inlaid edges. Indicator (cursor) is improved glass, no patent numbers or maker's markings on indicator. With: original reddish tan leather case with K&E logo blindstamped on flap tongue. Model is actually 4139S with the 'S" indicating it was with the leather case. Per 42nd edition catalog of 1954: Designed to facilitate the rapid solution of radio engineering problems as well as for ge
Leroy lettering template 61 1250-96PC made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken), no date, circa 1960-1970. Two pieces, laminated plastic incised with symbols, 25" long x 2" high x 1/8" thick. With: original two piece slipcase carton; only very small remainder of printed paper label on tray end. Other labels indicated item was checked baggage. Template 1: outlined italic letters; A-M on side 1; N-Z on side 2. Template 2: same font for numerals and punctuation on one side only. 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. Keu
Flexible curve rule, 57 2817-18, made by the Keuffel & Esser Co., (Hoboken), no date, circa late 1950s-early 1960s. Plastic and metal, straight length 18" x 7-8" wide x 18" thick. A typical item used in drafting work. This item would formerly have had the stock number 1924-18. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken until December, 1968.
Plastic pencil pointer stock no. 3505 made by the Keuffel & Esser Co., (Hoboken), no date, circa 1950-1960. Molded green plastic 7-1/2" long x 1-1/2" wide x 1/2" thick with metal spring insert for holding sandpaper sheets. Original box (poor condition.) With: package of 12 flint paper sheets in original packaging, stock number 58 0538 (with old stock number printed below - "Old 3505F.") Wrapper states it was for "Refillable Pencil Pointer 58 0535" which would be the new stock number for no. 3505 above. (K&E re-numbered its stock ca. 1956-1962.) This refill package was probably made between 1956 and 1965. The pointer was probably introduced in the 41st edition catalog of 1949 where the
Parallel Line Tracer stock no. 1859D made by the Keuffel & Esser Co., (Hoboken), no date, circa 1948-1960. "Xylonite" brand transparent plastic, 1-3/4" diameter, machined holes; stamped black numerals, logo and lettering. With: original printed stock envelope. Enclosed: printed product sheet , 4-5/8" x 6-5/8". Apparently introduced with the 41st edition catalog of 1949. Different items using the 1859 stock number appear in prior catalogs. Product sheet has a 1948 copyright. Front of product sheet has an illustration showing it in use. Back of product sheet has some suggested uses with details of how to use it: In Graph Plotting In Mapping In Railroad Work In Airplane or Ship Des
Leroy script lettering template 61 6150-30, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken), no date, circa 1956-1965. Laminated plastic incised with symbols both sides, 12" long x 7/8" 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. Upper case lettering plus punctuation on side with logo, company name and stock number. Back has lowercase and numerals. Apparently a 'special order' item as the 42nd edition catalog of 1954 listed this as 3242J-30PCL and "to order only." As the printed label on the end of the storage tray here has the prin
Draftsman's Outfit, INKOFF. Manufactured by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York. No date, circa 1920-1936. Cylindrical wood case, 2-3/8" diameter x 4-1/4" high, with screw-off wood cap (pine, shellacked, original printed label not present. Kit as received lacking the wiping cloth and the printed label on the wood tube. Tube held contents which was a clear glass bottle, 1-7/16" diameter x 2-1/2" high plus rubber stopper, ca. 1-2 ounces (but not stated), with printed wrap-around label with product name and directions; 5 cotton felt blotters with printed top, 1-7/8" high x 4" wide; illustrated product pamphlet depicting and promoting item plus instructions, 3-1/8" wide x 6" high,  pp. Not p
Xylonite Semicircular Protractor no. 1276-10 (old no. 1868-10), made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken), no date, circa 1936-1945. Clear plastic, 10" wide x 5-1/4" high; raised graduations and lettering in black on underside. With: original printed stock envelope. The ten inch wide model was the largest of the semi-circular protractors. The 38th edition catalog of 1936 uses this stock number. It noted that "No. 1276 is the old No. 1868", so the the item was introduced circa 1936. Catalog depictions of it remained the same into the 1950s even though K&E changed their logo after 1942. The notice on the printed envelope of the old stock no. would suggest it was made or sold circa 1936-1
Polyphase (Mannheim type) 10" slide rule, N4053-3, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., (New York), no date, circa 1927-1928. 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 is frameless; see description below. Back has an inset printed table of settings, formulas and ratios. Serial number 193568 which appears on the left end of slide back and on the left end of centimeter rule on bottom. Scales on front are marked
Erasing shield N3409; stamped metal with K&E logo. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1942-1955. Circa 30 guage stainless steel sheet metal with nickel finish, 2-3/8" high x 3-3/4" wide. With original printed stock envelope with model number; printed gummed adhesive label of Dayton Blue Print Company. Note the stamped name on template is: K & E CO. It is using an ampersand rather that the "+" symbol. The printed envelope has the "+'" symbol. These points would probably date it earlier than later, but the fact that it is made of stainless steel and that use of that metal would have probably been restricted for this use in World War II, makes it more likely to be postwar. Used in
Xylonite Semicircular Protractor no. 1276-6, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, New York, no date, circa 1936-1945. Clear plastic, 6" wide x 3-1/4" high; raised graduations and lettering in black on underside. The markings including the round logo and the griffin trademark. Keuffel & Esser Co. main office and factories were in Hoboken in the period when this item was made.
Semicircular Protractor no. V1276-4, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, New York, no date, circa 1950-1965. Clear plastic (Luxylite? not so marked), 4" wide x 2-1/8" high; single pencil hole at center of circle; graduations are in black on back; maker's mark is on 'front' and reversed (stamped marking is V 1236 -4 | Keuffel & Esser Co) The markings do not include the company logo; possibly for the school market. Dating of this item is tentative. Keuffel & Esser Co. main office and factories were in Hoboken in the period when this item was made up to December 1968.
Leroy Height & Slant Control Scriber, model 61 0020, made by the Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y., no date, circa 1966-1968. Aluminum metal with bluish-gray plastic handle and screw knob; metal ball with painted finish; clear plastic template with scales in black. With printed instructed pamphlet, 3-3/4" x 5-1/4" wide,  pp. (catalogued and stored separately as archives 2009.006.0211.01); original two piece paper covered box, 4-7/8" square x 1-1/2" high, with printed label on one side of lid. Scriber was intended for use with the Leroy lettering template system. Note the instruction sheet lists the company as New York and Hoboken, N.J. The box label states "Made in U.S.A." and "Printed in U.
Rod target for folding rule [product no. 90 2045] made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1960-1965. Round stamped aluminum metal plate, 3" diameter, painted white with round printed decal in red and white with black graduations and lettering; riveted brass fixture on back for clamp screw. Item would typically have been used in surveying field work or building construction for using a lightweight folding rule as a leveling rod. Image is shown of it in use on a K&E heavy duty folding rule; it is a very tight fit which would suggest it was for use on a standard duty style rule. Model number does not appear on object. It appears on page 12-31 of the 43rd edition catalog of 1962. Per do
LST, Level-Square-Tape (combination pocket tape measure) commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of the founding of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York; made by K&E, 1957. Die cast metal case with gold-tone finish and printed logo and text plates on each broad side; 1/2" wide retractable steel tape measure, 10 feet long in inches and sixteenths, white with black markings, "Wyteface"; integral bubble level in top edge. This particular one was issued by the Detroit branch sales office as it is marked "Detroit" under the company name. Other issues of this have been seen with other branch office names on them. Apparently a keepsake gift to employees (as stated by the donor according to their source;
Beginner's Slide Rule 4058, 10 inch, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York and Hoboken, no date, circa 1915-1922. Boxwood with scales printed on wood; table of equivalents printed on back; all celluloid cursor; celluloid window. With original printed cardboard carton imprinted on top: Student's Slide Rule; lacking end flaps. Slide rule is marked under slide "Lytle" and on top of carton; both in ink (fountain pen or similar) and appears contemporary. Scales: A, B, C, D. Slide inverted: A, S, L, T, D. (S, L, T at right; L scales increases to the left) Back has name and model: Beginner's Slide Rule. 4058 The Student's Slide Rule is seen depicted in the 35th and 36th edition catalogs na
Paper: K&E full logarithmic graph sheet 359-112. 2 x 3 cycles. Made and sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., [Hoboken], no date, circa 1950-1960. Transparent tracing paper printed in orange, 8-1/2" x 11" high, five hole punched on long side. One each. This item is seen on page 80 of the 42nd edition catalog of 1954. This same pattern was available on drawing paper in green ink. K&E main office and factories were in Hoboken during the period this item was made, but it is possible that this was made, stock and shipped from a subsidiary company located outside of Hoboken.
Paper: K&E Albanene [trademark tracing paper] graph sheets, 46 1323. 10 x 10 to the half inch. Made and sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., [Hoboken], no date, circa 1956-1966. Transparent tracing paper printed in orange, 8-1/2" x 11" high, five hole punched on long side. Seven each. Albanene was a line of durable transparent prepared tracing paper created by K&E. K&E main office and factories were in Hoboken during the period this item was made, but it is possible that this was made, stock and shipped from a subsidiary company located outside of Hoboken.
Paper: K&E full logarithmic graph sheets, 46 7323. 2 x 3 cycles. Made and sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., [Hoboken], no date, circa 1956-1966. Transparent tracing paper printed in orange, 8-1/2" x 11" high, five hole punched on long side. Eight each. This item is seen on page 80 of the 42nd edition catalog of 1954 as item 359-112. Circa 1956-1962, K&E re-numbered its product line and it was re-numbered 46 7323. When re-numbered is unknown at present. K&E main office and factories were in Hoboken during the period this item was made, but it is possible that this was made, stock and shipped from a subsidiary company located outside of Hoboken.