|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|
Sample book: Keuffel & Esser Co. Drawing Papers. New York & Hoboken, no date, circa 1920s. 5-1/4" x 8-3/8" high. Imprinted for B.L. Makepeace, Inc., Boston Mass. (supplier of Drafting and Engineering Supplies and Equipment.) The book contains 21 samples imprinted with information, weights and sizes and marks. At the back are two pages with a list of all the papers included by weight and size with the list prices. It notes that there is a larger sample book for all the papers sold by K & E. The cover depicts the Woolworth Building, New York.
Reference record for research: digital record only. No folder. Keuffel & Esser Corporation, Historical Time Line. (History timeline.) Transcription of text: Keuffel & Esser Corporation, Historical Time Line. Published online at: http://www.antiquesurveying.com/K&E%20History.htm Copyrighted 2005 Robert Parrish, 271 Allman Hill Rd. Weaverville, NC 28787-8510 __________ KEUFFEL & ESSER CORPORATION, HISTORICAL TIME LINE 1867 - K&E founded by William J. D. Keuffel & Herman Esser at 79 Nassau St., Manhattan. Sold drawing materials and drafting tools. William J. D. Keuffel president until 1908. 1868 - First catalog published. 1869 - First production of their own hard rubbe
Reference record for research: digital record only. No folder. Keuffel & Esser Surveying Instruments, Serial Numbers; First Instruments of the Year, 1900-1966. Transcription of chart: K&E Surveying Instruments. First Instruments of the Year. Published online at: http://www.surveyhistory.org/how_old_is_my_k_&_e%20Instrument.htm First published in "Backsights", Surveyor's Historical Society Magazine, Jan. 1991. NOTE: chart runs to 1966 only as published (1967 was K&E's last year in Hoboken.) __________ The following chart is copied from the January 1991 issue of Surveyor's Historical Society Magazine "Backsights": K&E Surveying Instruments, First Instruments of the Year SERIA
Caricature of W. L. E. Keuffel, [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. Second cousin of Keuffel & Esser Company founder W.J.D. (William or Wilhelm) Keuffel; headed manufacturing ca. 1880s to 1910s.
Instruction book: Student's Alphabets. A Selection of Useful Alphabets. No. 3571. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., General Office & Factories, Hoboken, N.J. Copyright 1907. Softcover booklet, side stapled, 6-1/8" high x 9-7/8" wide. Ten un-numbered leaves plus printed covers. PDF on file. Leaves are printed on recto only except for last leaf which has advertisements for inks and pens.
Partners in Creating. The First Century of K+E [Keuffel & Esser] 1867/1967. Booklet, 8-3/8" wide x 9-1/2" high. pp. 36 plus covers. PDF on file. Full text is in notes as stated below; text file as docx and RTF on file. A history of the Keuffel & Esser Company on its centennial including the establishment in 1880 in Hoboken of offices and factory. (It ceased Hoboken operations circa 1968-1969.) This record has full description and holds the full text in notes. Online display will only show beginning to page 21. (The text in notes is broken into sections due to online database format limitations.) see archives 2009.006.0022.01 for text of pages 15 to 25 see archives 2009.006.0022.0
Ad for K&E Paragon Auto-Flow Drafting Machine as published in Civil Engineering, April 1960, page 117. Clipped leaf, 7-5/8" wide x 10-7/8" high. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken until December, 1968.
Catalogue: K & E Graph Sheets and Co-ordinate Papers and Cloths. Keuffel & Esser Co., New York. Dated by owner on cover: June 7, 1937. Booklet, 5-3/4" wide x 8-13/16" high, 36 pp. including covers, illustrated. Previous owner's ink name and date on front cover (pg. ) plus address and telephone number for Kueffel & Esser store at 127 Fulton Street. Pages are excerpted from the 38th edition full line catalog in the same size and layout, but renumbered for this booklet. It has the same illustrations of the various products, but all appear in black-and-white except for the use of a color graph paper as the cover (main catalog illustrated many of these products products in color.) Unpriced.
Book: K&E Mining Transit Book 363A. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., (New York); used 1935-1936. Tan cloth ("imitation leather") binding with blind embossed title on front board, 80 un-numbered leaves. Made in Germany as stated inside back cover. Per catalog description under K&E Engineer's Field Books: paper part rag stock, waterproof surface, 4-5/8" x 7-1/4", 8x8 to the inch [graph paper on recto], Embankment Tables [inside front cover] and Natural Trig. Functions [last three pages.] The verso is lined paper ruled with six columns. Inside back cover is printed table: Distances from Center of Roadway for Cross-Sectioning. Circa 20 leaves have been used in this copy that belonged to a J
Manual: K&E Merchant's (Calculating) Slide Rule. [Model 4095.] Published by by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. & Hoboken. No date, circa 1925-1937. Pamphlet, 5-7/8" wide x 8-11/16" high, 12 pp. plus gray printed covers. This item accompanied object 2009.006.0150, Merchants' Slide Rule, K&E model 4094, but it is not the manual for that model. It is for model 4095 (from 1922 onward actually model 4095-3, 10") which was a duplex slide rule. Note the spelling is "Merchant's" which by the 1927 catalog had been changed to "Merchants'." On page  model 4095, 10", is shown, but it also mentions that 4095-1S, 5", is available, which was in a 1925 (36th edition) price list. Title page  tex
Advertisement (World War II): Proudly Our Men and Women Wear Their Emblems of Honor (Military "E" Awards). Keuffel & Esser Co., New York and Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa 1943. Clipped full page, 11-1/8" wide x 14" high, being page 195 from unknown publication (probably "Fortune" magazine.) Depicts banners of the Army-Navy Production Award ("E" Award) pennants or flags from August 1941, May 1942 and the third with two stars from circa 1943. Text: Proudly Our Men and Women Wear Their Emblems of Honor We are privileged to serve the war effort directly-in the making of important fire.control instruments. . . Our men and women won their first "E" Award in August 1941-their second in
K & E Ever-There Slide Rule No. 4097D. Simple Instructions for Use. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken. Copyright 1937. Dated by owner on cover: June 7, 1937. Booklet, 5-7/8" wide x 8-3/4" high on bible paper, 20 pp. including covers, illustrated. Fold marks as typically found as previous owner would often fold item to store for easy reference inside slide rule case. As printed on the back cover: General Office and Factories, Hoboken, N.J.
Book: K&E Field Engineer's Book 361. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., (New York.); used 1906. Tan full leather (sheepskin) binding with blind embossed title and stock number on front board; 60 un-numbered leaves. (Not marked, but it was probably made in Germany.) Used in field work with circa two thirds of the pages used. Worn binding; 4 leaves excised as detailed below. An example of a K&E product that was used for real work by a surveyor/engineer. Some selected leaves are imaged to provide examples of how it was typically used. Listed under K&E Engineer's Field Books. Catalogue states "with Keith's & Hall's Tables." Inside front cover: "Hall's Tables" - "Tables for Excavations and Embank
The Kecoscope. Volume 11, No. 19, Nov. 8, 1962. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. House organ issued by the company. 8-1/2" x 11" high; 5 leaves, 10 pp. Photos. "Keco" in "Kecoscope" is 'K'euffel & 'E'sser 'Co.' These materials are from the personal papers of K&E employee Anita Heimbruch of 1217 Garden St., Hoboken.
Periodical: The Slide Rule. Volume 1, No. 2 and No. 4, 1925. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. Each is a single folio,  pp., 5-1/2" wide x 8-1/4" high. No. 4 has ink stamp on page , Jan 2, 1926. PDF of each issue on file. Promotional / educational publication by the company whose main office and factories were in Hoboken at this time. Page  of number 2 has code "4647" and number 4 has "5051". Vol 1, no. 2, page : "Up in the Air." Photo aboard the U.S.N. Airship (blimp) Los Angeles showing two officers, one using a slide rule. Short article below. Vol 1, No. 2, pg [2-3]: The Slide Rule in Chemistry; The Chemist's Duplex Slide Rule. Vol 1, no. 2, page : T
Manual: How to Take Care of Your K&E Slide Rule; Duplex. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken. Copyright 1944,1949. Issued in box with K&E slide rule model N4080, objects 2009.006.0137, made circa 1955-1957. Pamphlet, 2" x 4" wide,  pages. Stock code on page : 67188. Back cover has Keuffel & Esser Co. imprint with product lines and branch offices. Note that it mentions "optical tooling," but it is not yet renamed "Optics and Metrology." Main office and factories were in Hoboken in this period.
Manual: Instructions for Operating Slide Rules; The Mannheim Type Slide Rule. No place, no date, circa 1955-1957. Found in box with Keuffel & Esser slide rule model N4080, objects 2009.006.0137, made circa 1955-1957. Pamphlet, 5-1/2" high x 48-1/2" wide,  pages. This item, an apparently generic guide, has no publisher indicated or markings associating with Keuffel & Esser. The slide rule depicted does not correspond to K&E models other than being a Mannheim type. The inclusion of this publication in the box with the slide rule was probably done by either the owner as a free guide found in the store where they purchased it or by the retailer; note the last line on page : "There's
Manual: K+E Log Log Duplex Trig No. N4080 Manual. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken. Copyright 1943,1948. Issued in box with K&E slide rule model N4080, objects 2009.006.0137, made circa 1955-1957. Softcover, 5-1/4" x 7-1/4" high, pp. [iv], 123 plus covers. Authors were Lyman M. Kells, Willis F. Kern and James R. Bland, all at the United States Naval Academy. Keuffel & Esser main office and factories were in Hoboken in this period.
The Kecoscope. No. 2, November 1950. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. House organ issued by the company. 8-1/2" x 11" high;  pp. Laid in: mimeographed leaf, "The AA Sportsfinder", Volume II, No. 29, November 10, 1950. (AA was Activities Association of the Keuffel & Esser employees.) "Keco" in "Kecoscope" is 'K'euffel & 'E'sser 'Co.' See notes for names found in these publications. These materials are from the personal papers of K&E employee Anita Heimbruch of 1217 Garden St., Hoboken.
The Kecoscope. Volume 3, No. 70, May 28, 1953. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. House organ issued by the company. 8-1/2" x 11" high; 5 leaves, 9 pp. Photos. "Keco" in "Kecoscope" is 'K'euffel & 'E'sser 'Co.' These materials are from the personal papers of K&E employee Anita Heimbruch of 1217 Garden St., Hoboken.