|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|
Pilot balloon marine theodolite, Aero-1938-USN 345-43. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, 1943 for United States Navy. Serial number 83352. Gray painted metal case, carrying handle on top; with instrument, gimbal mount (with wood storage spacer & chain) and two storage bases (one is a trivet base.) Not present is any tripod or counterweight. Maker's plate on door with serial number; printed instruction plate attached inside door. Carrying handle on top Also known as a "Pibal" [PI from 'pilot'; BAL from 'balloon'] theodolite or bubble sextant. A World War II military item made under contract by K&E who had their general offices and main factories in Hoboken at this time. Name of item
Picker X-ray Fetal Medical slide rule, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., [Hoboken], no date, circa 1950s-1967. Printed, black on white, wood with metal caliper measure; 2-3/4" overall height (stator 1-13/16") x 15" long x 3/8" thick. Improved glass indicator, special, hairline on lower half only. An uncommon slide rule and an example of commissioned work done by K&E where special slide rules were custom made to the customer's specifications. The name of the rule does appear on the item and the one used here is the common name often found for it. Used to measure the size of a fetus head in utero from an x-ray or x-rays made of the mother's pelvic region. The reverse has four reference illustrati
K&E K-12 Prep Slide Rule, 68 1892. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1962-1972. 10" all plastic (white Vinylite) slide rule except for metal spring in otherwise all-plastic indicator. Lacking: original case (plastic vinyl sleeve) or instructions. All markings are in a dark green ink matching the plastic bracket ends. K&E general offices and factories were in Hoboken up to December 1968 and after that in Morristown, N.J. Actually made in Connecticut by K&E Salisbury Products Division. Item is only marked with "Keuffel & Esser Co.", "K&E" and "Made in U.S.A." plus the rule name and stock number. Rule was introduced in 1962 and production ended in 1972. All scales are on the fron
Swedish Bark-Measuring Instrument, model 4340. Sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J., no date, circa 1950-1962. Wood and metal; overall 3-1/8" wide x 9" long. Marked "Keuffel & Esser Co."; "Djos"; "Sweden." With: paper covered cardboard slipcase container with printed label on on end of tray. Label is skinned; model number found in catalogs. Not present: instructions or product sheet. Product name and model number do not appear on object. Commonly known as a bark gauge and used for measuring thickness of tree bark. Wood-handled corer is pushed against bark until it meets the wood, measurement is read directly from shaft markings. An imported device offered by K&E whose general of
"Ever-There" 4098 slide rule, 5 inch, advertising special, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, N.Y. (Hoboken, N.J.), no date, circa 1931-1936. White Xylonite (white celluloid), 5" (6" overall length); engine divided in black and red; engraved on back "Pacific Pump Works"; transparent "frameless" xylonite indicator. Serial number 18360. With: smooth leather sheath gilt stamped "Pacific Pump Works." Hand-engraved on stator beneath slide: Dr. R.E. Humphreys. Front scales: A B CI C D K Scales on reverse of slide: S L T (note slide does not invert; see detail end view) Back has a 13 centimeter ruler and 5 inch ruler. The 4098, a pocket polyphase slide rule (a small version of the 4053), wa
Drawing template: Xylonite Lettering Triangle No. 1859 B-5 made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, no date, ca. 1939-1944. 30-60-90 degree plastic triangle (5" high x 2-7/8" wide at left right angle) with various markings in black; holes in sequences for marking letter layout. With: original printed paper envelope. Not present: any printed instruction or product sheet. Item is marked with the K&E circular logo, product number, patent number (1,704,540) and the griffin trademark. The envelope text includes the listing of the Los Angeles branch which was established in 1939. The material the item was made from, "Xylonite", a K&E brand name clear plastic with a yellowish cast, was re
Ink bottle holder, model 3019, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, no date, circa 1900-1940. Bronzed cast iron, domed shape, 3-3/8" diameter x 1-5/8" high; hole at top and 4 slde slots (above flared base rim) for use with adjustable spring clip. Present: glass bottle with printed paper label, Higgins American India Ink. Model number does not appear on the item. The bottom has raised lettering in the casting: Keuffel & Esser Co., Patented. The device was intended to hold an open bottle of drawing ink on a drafting table or board. The size and weight insured that the bottle could not be tipped over or spilled. The side slots( to insert the spring clip that puts pressure on the bottom of
Plate: "Hoboken in New Jersey" (Steven's House). Blue Staffordshire plate made by Joseph Stubbs circa 1825-1829. From the collections of the late Alfred E. Busch: presentation stand with plate holder and typewritten description on plaque. Dual association with Hoboken as the owner was a significant figure in Hoboken industry and the Stevens homestead was a landmark in regard to Hoboken's early development. A gift to Busch from Kenneth Stiles, Major General, U.S. Air Force Reserve. See notes for transcripton of the plaque. Date of presentation is not stated or known except that it was likely in the 1960s. Busch became President of Keuffel & Esser Co. in 1961 (and by birth, he was a
Wood 16" chalk compass made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York and Hoboken, no date, circa late 1900s or up to 1920s. Maple stained wood (pear?), 17" overall length x 1-15/16" wide x 1" thick; turned tapered legs with bored split ends for chalk and compass point; metal tightening ring with bolt (bolt not original; presumed to have been a thumbscrew. Lacking original pivot screw and thumb bolt on flat side where marked. No product number appears on item except size, a blindstamped "16", which is the length from the pivot bolt to the end of the wood where the chalk and compass point are inserted. Blindstamped with the K&E circular logo and the griffin trademark. Item has not been located in
Button: "K. & E. Co." No place (probably New York or Hoboken), no date, circa 1890s-1940. White paper with clear covering on metal button; 7/8" diameter; wire pin missing. No maker's mark. While one of the two locations mentioned are likely, K&E had branch offices in other cities as well as authorized retailers, etc., which makes for a very wide range of possible places it could have been made or used. Keuffle & Esser Co. had factories in Hoboken from 1875 to 1968; general offices moved from New York to Hoboken in 1907. Where this button was used and for what purpose is not indicated. Also, when this pin was made is unknown, but it could be from a rather wide date range from 1890s to 19
Three-arm circular protractor made for the U.S. Navy; no. 7136-1942. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, probably 1942. Transparent (slight yellow cast) celluloid plastic with markings in black; 2 brass clamps with molded black plastic knobs. Dial 12-1/8" diameter with one fixed arm 19-1/2" high; two adjustable arms 13-1/2" long x 3-1/4 overall width. The base arm and adjustable arms have a hang hole in a common position for hanging storage. Brass center pivot has a hole for marking or pinning the instrument in place; each arm has three pencil holes along black line for scribing a fixed diameter arc, but there are no scales marked on the arms. With: custom shaped wood storage t
K&E Wyteface 25; 6 foot tape measure. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., (probably Morristown, N.J.), no date, circa 1969-1980. Chrome metal case with red printed plastic front face; 1/4" metal tape, retractable; black markings on white, feet and inches, sixteenths of an inch (1st six inches to 32nds of an inch.) Overall 1-3/4" square x 5/16" thick. This pocket tape measure does not have a model number other than the name on it; tape blade does not have K&E markings; the six foot end does not have a refill stock number and may not be replaceable except by dis-assembly. K&E was located in Hoboken through 1968 and thereafter in Morristown, N.J. It is not believed the product was made in Hoboken
Keuffel & Esser tree caliper, model 4306, 24 inch. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co.,Hoboken, no date, circa 1949-1962. Maple wood, clear varnish, overall 28-3/4" x 15-3/4"; metal hardware. Rule measure marked in black on both sides in inches and sixteenths. K&E round logo and griffin trademark plus model number. Used by foresters, forestry staff or loggers for field measurement of tree diameters (logs or timber.) Tree calipers did not appear in the 40th edition catalog of 1944; tree tapes are listed. It is listed in the 41st (1949) and 42nd (1954); it is re-numbered in the 43rd edition (1962). The use of the round logo and griffin trademark suggests the early part of this date range, but tho
Tape mending pliers, no model number. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa late 1940s-1960s. Chrome plated metal, overall 4" wide x 6-1/2" long. While the general function of this item corresponds to tape measure mending tools offered by K&E, it has more elements than those depicted in the catalogues of the period and thus cannot be stated as one of the ones seen. It is stamped on both sides with the K&E modern (post 1942) logo and: "Keuffel & Esser Co." "Made in U.S.A."
Ruler, 6", probably made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. and marked with name of employee, engineer Werner Hauschild. No date, circa 1950s-1960s. Boxwood and white celluloid with black markings, four bevels, 6" long scales (overall 6-3/4".) Name is engraved in boxwood: W. Hauschild. No K&E markings on the item including product number nor any marks by any other possible manufacturer. End thickness is slightly greater than typical K&E items, but that is not considered definitive in stating that it was or was not made by K&E. Hauschild was employed as a K&E engineer working on transits and theodolites for circa 30 years starting about 1954. Scales: 1/8" - 1/16" 1/4" - 1/32"
Architect's scale, 6" flat, Paragon 1399P, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken, N.J.), no date, circa 1950s-1962. Boxwood and white celluloid, four bevels, with black ruling; 6" long scales (6-3/4" overall.) This item belonged to Werner Hauschild who was employed as a K&E engineer working on transits and theodolites for circa 30 years starting about 1954. Scales: 3/4" - 3/8"; 1-1/2" - 3" 1/8" - 1/4"; inch - 1/2" K&E main offices and factory were in Hoboken during the period when this was manufactured. Product would have received a new product number in 1962, 56 3216.
Tape measure, Wyteface 90 0308, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, Morristown, NJ, issued June 14, 1969. Metal with printed label commemorating "Open House at Corporate Headquarters & Research Center, Morristown, N.J., June 14, 1969." Metal case with 1/2" x 8 foot white tape with black graduations. This item belonged to Werner Hauschild who was employed as a K&E engineer working on transits and theodolites for circa 30 years starting about 1954. While item was issued after K&E left Hoboken at the end of 1968, it may have been manufactured in Hoboken. The item appears in the 1962 catalog.
Ruler, 12" aluminum, double bevel, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, Morristown, NJ, issued June 7, 1969. Aluminum metal with blue finish, opposite bevels, graduations in black; printed in red one side: "Keuffel & Esser Co., Corporate Headquarters & Research Center, Morristown, N.J., Open House, June 14, 1969." Notch on one end; purpose not known; probably not original. This item belonged to Werner Hauschild who was employed as a K&E engineer working on transits and theodolites for circa 30 years starting about 1954. Item was issued after K&E left Hoboken at the end of 1968. The ruler may have been a stock product specially silkscreened for the occasion, but while the K&E logo does app
Advertising magnet, K&E Centennial, issued by Keuffel & Esser Company, [Hoboken, NJ], 1967. Green molded vinyl cover mounted on flexible magnetic sheet, 7/8" high x 1-3/4" wide x 1/16+" thick; raised artwork: boxed K&E logo with the "1867 - Into Century II - 1967" logo. Item made by Magna Visuals, St. Louis, as lettered on reverse. This item belonged to Werner Hauschild who was employed as a K&E engineer working on transits and theodolites for circa 30 years starting about 1954. K&E celebrated its centennial in 1967 while its general offices and main factories were still in Hoboken.
Manufacturer's logo sign plate made by Keuffel & Esser Company, (Hoboken, N.J.), no date, circa 1950s-1960s. Aluminum sheet with red decaled artwork, 2-3/4" high x 4-1/2" wide; holes at each corner for mounting. The scale of this item suggests it was for mounting on large equipment, not a smaller instrument case. This item belonged to Werner Hauschild who was employed as a K&E engineer working on transits and theodolites for circa 30 years starting about 1954. K&E main offices and factory were in Hoboken during most of the period when this was item was likely manufactured. Dating is not definite.