|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|
Paper: K&E graph sheets 359-11. 10 x 10 to the half inch. 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. Twenty five each. This item was on page 63 of the 42nd edition catalog of 1954. 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 semi-logarithmic graph sheet 46 6463. 7 cycles x 60 divisions. 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. One each. This item was formerly 359-96 as seen on page 77 of the 42nd edition catalog of 1954. Circa 1956-1962, K&E re-numbered its product line and it was re-numbered 46 6463. 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.
Carton for K&E Albanene graph sheets 46 1327; old 359T-11. Made and sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., [Hoboken], no date, circa 1956-1966. Print cardstock envelope, 8-5/8" high x 11-5/8" deep x 7/16" thick at closure flap (top edge); die-cut window with clear cellophane for viewing sample contents. Original contents, 100 sheets (orange printed 10 x 10 to the half inch), not present. Printed text block on back. Albanene was a line of durable transparent prepared tracing paper created by K&E. Circa 1956-1962, K&E re-numbered its product line. This envelope/sleeve has both stock numbers which was typical during the transition from the old stock number to the new. When precisely re-numbered is
Paper: K&E Albanene [trademark tracing paper] graph sheets, 359T-11. 10 x 10 to the half inch. 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. Fifty-four 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.
Architect's Dumpy Level, model 5107, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, (1909.) Brass metal and glass; side bubble level (broken); four leveling screws; 1-1/4" threaded mounting base. Engraved on telescope top: Keuffel & Esser Co. | New York | 20318. Level only. Lacking ring on bottom for plumb bob line. Not present is any original accessory, case or kit item such as tripod or trivet. The model name and number does not appear on the object, but was determined from catalogue description and illustration on page 385 of the 33rd edition catalog of 1909. The date of manufacture was determined from the serial number, 20318. That number places it as manufactured in 1909 based on "First Instr
Paper: Constructor's Tracing Paper, No. 334-1/2TG, cross section 10 x 10 to the half inch, 20 inch by 50 yards, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, circa 1944-1954. Full roll (2-3/4" diameter x 22" overall width) in original green paper packaging with printed paper label. The twenty inch refers to the width of the printed cross-section grid; with margins, it was 22" wide. This stock number first appeared in the 40th edition catalog of 1944 and was in the 41st edition catalog of 1949 (note earlier catalogues listed it as 334-1/2 or 334-1/2TN.) The 42nd edition catalog of 1954 uses the same stock number, but K&E labels changed in the 1950s as it replaced the traditional and so
Telescope for transit, no model number, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., [Hoboken], no date, circa 1950s-1960s. Metal, brass with green Hammerton finish, and glass, ca. 9-1/2" long x 5" wide mount. Lens cap. This is probably the telescope, only, from an instrument (jig transit?) made by the Optics & Metrology Division of K&E. It has no markings identifying it as made by K&E including model or part number, but the style and finish are distinctively of that company. Further research may determine specific model. Item is for study purposes. Focusing knob on top; two trunnions with non-ferrous bushings for mounting; threaded posts on bottom for attachment of level.
U.S. Navy Bu[reau]. Nav. MK II, No. 51,1935, [Plotting or Drafting Machine.] Sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, circa 1935. Metal with wood, 18" arms; single blade protractor head; in original wooden box with hinged lid. This item has the K&E name on it, but it was probably manufactured by the Universal Drafting Machine Company of Cleveland, Ohio, as the scales are marked with their name. K&E may have made some minor changes to it (wood knob?), but Universal had been making such machines since the World War I era (and possibly earlier.) No such machines designed and made by K&E appeared in catalogs until 1949. While not manufactured by K&E, it is important as an example of co
K&E Draft Clean Powder for Clean Drawings, N3036, distributed by Keuffel & Esser Company, (NY & Hoboken), no date, ca. 1949-1960. 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. The patent number on the back, 2,305,910, is from 1942 and is not a K&E patent. Circa 1956-1962, the company began to use a new stock number system and it was re-numbered 58 0680. The 'N' prefix in the product number stands for 'new' and it has not been found by that number or package style e
Two 45 degree Luxylite drawing/drafting triangles sold by Keuffel & Esser, New York and Hoboken, no date, circa 1965-1975. One each: no. 57 0292 8, 8"; no. 57 0292 4, 4". Clear plastic with recessed edge ("finger lifts"; also useful when inking.) Besides company name, Luxylite trademark and product number, they are marked "Denmark." These items may be earlier in the 1960s than 1965 and possibly later than 1975. K&E had their main office and factory in Hoboken up to December 1968.
Luxylite 30-60-90 degrees 6" drawing/drafting triangle no. 1851-6 made by Keuffel & Esser, New York and Hoboken, no date, circa 1950-1960. Clear plastic with square edge profile; recesses - "finger lifts" - in center cutout. It is marked with company logo, name, Luxylite trademark and product number. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken up to December 1968.
Tripod, extension leg, no model number; made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, no date, circa 1930s-1940s. Painted wood (formerly white; almost completely gone), metal; 37" high closed; ca. 61" high with legs entended. Leather strap. Mount: 3-1/2" x 8 thread. Missing: one locking nut. Product number and K&E name do not appear on object. Used for mounting levels, transits, theodolites, etc. The date of this one is only approximate, but it is likely from that era. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken when it was made.
Tru-Point Pencil Lead Pointer Model D, No. 58 0510, made or sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, no date, circa 1956-1966. Cast and machined metal, 3-1/4" diameter x 2-3/4" high, dark green Hammertone finish; rubber base on bottom perimeter. Two each with original cartons. Container is the only significant difference between the items, but see note below about printed enclosures. The aluminum cap nut is stamped "Keuffel & Esser Co." Product number does not appear on product. Foundry mold number on bottom. The carton is a two-piece cardboard box; lid covered with printed paper which is the same on both except as described below. Example No. 1:The box for this pointer has
Wooden pencil pointer, stock no. 58-0540, made by the Keuffel & Esser Co., (Hoboken), no date, circa 1960-1970. Shaped natural wood, 7" long x 1-1/4" wide x 5/16" thick (with pad); pad of 12 sheets of flint paper 4" x 1-3/16" wide [ca. 150 grit sandpaper); hanging hole. Imprinted with company logo, product number and "Made in U.S.A." Item is unused. May have been made after 1970. Product number is hypenated which is unusual for K&E. Obviously not a mechanical pencil sharpener. A typical item used in drafting work. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken until December, 1968.
Plane table wide leg extension tripod, product number unavailable, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, no date, circa 1960-1975. Painted wood (white and orange), metal and leather, 37-1/2" high with legs closed; 59-1/2" long legs when fully extended. Weathered and worn. The mount is designed for a plane table set-up and is used with an alidade. The drawing board is not present nor usually expected to be. No model number appears on the tripod. This particular one was used in Alaska and has the modern printed adhesive foil label of the firm (McCauley's Reprographics, Inc., Fairbanks, AL.) that sold or rented this item and it includes the K&E logo. K&E had their main offic
Tripod, model 5176, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, (1906.) Brass and hardwood, 58" high closed. No spurs. No K&E markings or model number appear on item. This item accompanied a boxed instrument, K&E model 5113 Architect's Y Level with Compass (objects catalog 2009.006.0266), which has been dated as 1906 from the serial number. The instrument fits the tripod mount in all details and as described in the catalogues of that period, this tripod was issued with the instrument as part of the standard kit, thus it is dated as 1906. As noted in the catalogue it is essentially the same as 5175, but lighter weight. K&E had their factories in Hoboken when it was made.
Paragon drafting machine with counterbalance weight, 1370-2, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken), no date, circa 1953-1960. Metal and plastic. Variable dimensions as used; folded closed without scales attached, circa 46" x 12" x 8". Serial number: L279601. No scales (as issued.) Lacking: instruction booklet. Includes: key for removing scales. No model number appears on the item other than a serial number, the K&E logo, manufacturer's plate on the anchor (clamp) with model name "K&E Paragon" and a U.S. patent number. This patent number, 2,644,238, issued July 1953 (PDF of patent attached to this file), indicates manufacturing date of 1953 or later. (Note once piece does have the num
Two-foot boxwood joint scale rule [model 1722] made by J. Rabone & Sons, Birmingham, England for Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, circa 1880-1900. Four fold natural wood marked in black with brass mountings, ends, hinges and rule hinge; one side with chamfer bevel on one edge of each length. Folded: 6-1/2" long x 1-1/8" wide x 5/16" thick; open 9/16" wide x 24" long. Item does not have a product number on it. Corresponds to description of product number 1722 found in 30th (1900-1901), 33rd (1909) and 35th (1915) edition catalogues although depiction is slightly different from the object (the rule joint has simple protractor markings at 45, 60 and 90 degrees; these simpler markings
K&E 1318MS Speedraft Template. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, no date, circa 1949-1962. Transparent triangular plastic (yellow cast), 9-1/2" high x9-1/2" wide. Triangular two-piece paper covered box with printed paper label on lid. Drafting tool for drawing to SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and American Standards, hexagon cap screws, bolts, socket filister head screws, nuts, set screws in popular sizes. Long edge is cut out for 15 degree angles. First appears in 41st edition catalog of 1949 and continues to 1962, when stock number is changed.
Advertising eraser 'pencil' with an eraser on each end. Issued by the Keuffel & Esser Co., Morristown, N.J., no date, circa 1971-1975 [end date not definite.] Wood, metal, rubber or vinyl; 7-1/2" long. The pencil has printed text "Erasable Xerographic Vellum" and notes that "Works on Xerox machines 1860, 600, 1824, 3000, 3100, 3600, 4000." Based on the some dates that those machines were introduced, the date is not earlier than 1971. While this item was not issued by K&E in Hoboken, it is held as an example of their promotional work in the early years after they left Hoboken.