|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|
Tape measure, Favorite Locking Power Tape 90 0288, 20 ft., made by Keuffel & Esser Company, no date, circa late1960s to 1980s. Silver plastic case with printed decal label; metal belt clip; 1" wide x 20 foot long metal tape, yellow with black and red graduations and markings. 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 does have product number on the label. Catalog reference is not available for this period. While case label has K&E name, the tape has no maker's marks; it does have a patent number (3,121,957; issued in 1964). The yellow tape is usually known as a "high visibil
Tape measure refill, Wyteface N7416-12, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, no date, ca. 1956-1962. Metal tape white with black graduations, 5/8" wide x 12 feet long. 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. Wyteface was a longtime registered trademark used by K&E. The tape is marked near the beginning with K&E logo and Wyteface name. Ruled in feet and inches. At tongue (insertion) end it is marked: Use K&E Refill no. N7416-12. This number is not found in the 42nd edition catalogue and the 'N' in the number meant that it was new so it is probable that it was for a product introduce
Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. employee photo identification badge of an un-named woman, no date, circa 1940-1950. Brass oval with engraved lettering in black, 2" high x 1-3/8" wide; pin clasp back; window with black-and-white photo (circa 7/8" wide x 1-1/2" high) of female employee taken at height board with employee number in image below (3921); clear plastic insert over photo. The five-foot tall woman has not been identified yet. While undated, her dress and hair appear of the period. Also K&E did significant work in Hoboken for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy which probably required a formal photo identification for security purposes within the manufacturing complex. Also note di
Tape measure, Wyteface 90 0312, 12 foot, made by Keuffel & Esser Company, Hoboken or Morristown, NJ, no date, circa 1962-1970. Metal case, black matte body with nickel or chrome right angle bottom and end; with 1/2" x 12 foot white tape with black graduations (labeled N7409-12). Lacking: the small rectangular 'K&E' logo plate intended for depressed spots on each wide side. The stock number appears on the case front above the tape hook. This number first appears in the 1962 catalog. The stock number for the tape refill ('re-order...') is found on the 12 foot end of the tape blade and is a pre-1962 number. It would probably make the manufacture of this item circa 1962 and possibly within a
Box with spider web frame for housing living spider and spider web harvesting; made and used by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa 1950's to very early 1960s. Two piece cardboard box, 17-1/4" wide x 6-1/2" deep x 1-1/2" high, with removable rectangular metal frame, 4-1/2" x 13", secured in lower half; worked wood blocks at each end of tray with plastic disk holders for frame. Lid and tray covered with green paper with the blind embossed 'K&E' logo pattern (same paper as used for product packages in this era.) Imprinted on top and inside bottom of tray with inkstamp. Ink stamped on top of box lid (black) and inside tray (red): CAUTION SPIDER-WEB ON FRAME HANDLE WITH EXTREM
Engraver's shifting head T-square, model 2065, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa 1900-1928. Steel 6" blade with hang hole; shifting brass head (4" wide); swivel locking knob with knurled edge; knob top engraved with an "A", Marking on blade is Keuffel & Esser Co., New York. K&E had its factory in Hoboken and after 1907 also its general offices. The model number does not appear on the item. Up until the 37th edition catalog of 1928 this specialty t-square was offered in five sizes including the six inch adjustable one here. From that catalogue forward, only the 8 and 12 inch ones were offered. Typical depiction found on page 222 of 1909 33rd edition catalog.
Engraver's T-squares, model 2060-8, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa 1900-1936. Steel 8" blade with hang hole; brass head 4-7/8" wide. Marking on blade is Keuffel & Esser Co., New York with model number. K&E had its factory in Hoboken and after 1907 also its general offices. Up until the 37th edition catalog of 1928 this specialty t-square was offered in five sizes including the eight inch one here. From 1928 to 1935 only the 8 and 12 inch ones were offered. With the 38th edition catalog of 1936 only a 12 inch model was sold. Typical depiction found on page 222 of 1909 33rd edition catalog.
Engraver's T-squares, model 2060-4, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa 1900-1928. Steel 8" blade with hang hole; brass head 3-1/8" wide. Marking on blade is Keuffel & Esser Co., New York with model number. K&E had its factory in Hoboken and after 1907 also its general offices. Up until the 37th edition catalog of 1928 this specialty t-square was offered in five sizes including the four inch one here. From 1928 onward the 8 and 12 inch ones were offered. With the 38th edition catalog of 1936 only a 12 inch model was sold. Typical depiction found on page 222 of 1909 33rd edition catalog.
Elemoto Dimension Adder & Subtractor, model 4008, sold by Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. No date, circa 1954-1962. Plastic and metal, 7-7/8" high x 7-7/16"wide x 3/8" thick; aluminum stylus in stored slot. With: original printed two-piece box and instruction sheet. The model number does not appear on the item and the Keuffel and Esser name only appears stamped in white on the face at the lower right (there is a black label beneath it under the clear cover to make the words more legible. Obviously an instrument made by Elemoto (based in Teaneck, N.J. and who made at least one other product for K&E in this period, a screw selector chart) and labeled for resale. Box does not have any K&E
Draftsman's Xylonite Erasing Shield N3412; with K&E logo. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., no date, circa 1939-1945. Frosted plastic, 2-3/8" high x 3-3/4" wide. With original printed paper sleeve with model number. The model number does not appear on the template. The branch offices listed includes Los Angeles established in 1939 so it dates this sleeve as no earlier than that date. The N in the model number usually indicated a new item or re-numbered item, but a check of catalogs back to 1921 used 3412 for this item. Note the die-cut name on template is: K & E CO. It is using an ampersand rather that the "+" symbol. In 1942 they replaced the ampersand with a plus sign, although old stock w
Award pin: Army-Navy 'E' Award to Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. Commemorative pin issued to employee Arthur E. Miller, Nov. 4, 1942. Sterling silver with red, white and blue enamel, 1-3/16" wide x 5/8" high. Screw post back with brass cap. Back has of pin has Keuffel & Esser Co. name plus maker's mark B.B. Co. Roch. N.Y. (Bastian Bros. Co., Rochester, N.Y.) plus two union marks; cap is marked Bastian Bros. Co., Rochester, N.Y. Mounted on card (1-11/16" square) imprinted "Sterling." With: original plain glassine sleeve; printed presentation envelope; enclosure - printed  page pamphlet about the award, its history and K&E. The Army - Navy "E" Award (Award for Excellence in Producti
Keuffel & Esser Wyteface Rigitape tape measure, No. 7419, 16 feet with retail display packaging. Made in Hoboken, no date, circa 1954-1962. Tape measure, reel case with winding handle, steel 3-1/4" diameter with gray plastic cover, chrome hardware; 1/2" white steel tape graduated in black and red by feet, inches and by eighths. Packaging: two piece printed slip case box; overall dimensions: 3-1/2" wide x 3-3/8" high x 1-1/8" deep. Tray is die-cut for displaying product with fold-out full-size panel. Enclosure: printed slip, 3" square, with illustration and instructions to hardware dealer for display. A general purpose tape intended for the retail market rather than the professional one for
Thread Draft Template. No. 1322. Keuffel & Esser Co. (New York & Hoboken), no date, circa 1949-1950. Transparent plastic (Xylonite type: a K&E name for its plastic with a yellowish tint), 2-/12" high x 6-5/8" wide. K&E general offices and main factory were based in Hoboken at this time. The item first appears in the 41st edition catalog, 1949. Note "Patent Pending" is imprinted so this item was an early issue. An item typically used in drafting and design work by draftsmen, engineers, etc. (Broken as received - vertical break visible to the right.)
Award pin: Navy 'E' Award to Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. Commemorative pin issued to employee Arthur E. Miller, no date, circa 1941-1946. Enameled brass oval, 5/8" wide x 7/8" high; pin back. Back has maker's mark (Bastian Bros. Co., Rochester, N.Y.) plus three other union marks. K&E did significant work in Hoboken for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy during World War II. The Army - Navy "E" Award (Award for Excellence in Production) was given to K&E seven times. Only 13 companies in the entire country received seven awards. Text reads: E for Production United States Navy Bureau of Ordnance K & E K&E received its first award on August 9, 1941, second on May 29, 1942 and third
Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J. employee photo identification badge of Arthur E. Miller of Hoboken, no date, circa 1940-1950. Brass oval with engraved lettering in black, 2" high x 1-7/16" wide; pin clasp back; window with black-and-white photo (circa 7/8" wide x 1-1/2" high) of Miller taken at height board with employee number in image below (3772); clear plastic insert over photo. Leather badge holder. K&E did significant work in Hoboken for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy which probably required a formal photo identification for security purposes within the manufacturing complex. Arthur Miller (1914-1984) was also known as Edwin Arthur Miller and was to this time a lifelong resident o
Wooden machinists tool chest belonging to Arthur E. Miller of Hoboken while in the employ of Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken, N.J., no date, circa 1935-1955. This wooden tool chest is from the personal memorabilia of Arthur E. Miller (1914-1984) who was also known as Edwin Arthur Miller. While not every craftsperson's tool chest and tools are useful to Hoboken history, this item is an important group that offers insight into the type of manufacturing once done in Hoboken especially at a company with the high reputation and wide reach of K&E. Born and raised in Hoboken, he started at K&E ca. 1930-1933 probably as an office boy. Typical of the company was an apprentice program that it had f
Aerial Dead Reckoning Computer. E-6B. U.S. Army Air Corps. Made by Keuffel & Esser Co., N.Y. No date, circa 1940-1941. Keuffel & Esser had its main offices and factory in Hoboken at this time, but products sometimes used New York as a location. This navigational instrument would have been made in its Hoboken plant if not subcontracted elsewhere. The item here is an early example of this model. This form became a standard and is still made made (by others) and apparently useful. Double-sided aluminum frame, 5-11/16" diameter with flat sides, 4-7/8" wide, two separate mounted wheels (one face mounted with center pivot; second one compass internally mounted annular ring with clear plastic
E.A. Sperry's [Pocket] Calculator. Keuffel & Esser Co., New York (and Hoboken.) S915; a circular dial calculator considered part of the genre of slide rules. With leather case with snap cover (snap: United-Carr; founded 1929) ---- PDFs on file of: 1911 patent; Oughtred Society article.
Folding pocket rule, 3 foot, made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, no date, circa 1893-1927. Stamped metal (tempered spring steel), 12 fold, 3/8" high x 4-3/16" wide (closed); graduated in inches and sixteenths. Stamped on first section: Keuffel & Esser Co. New York. Pat. April 25, 1893. No stock number (corresponds to number 1727.) This item does not appear in the 1927 catalog when only wooden folding rules were still being offered. K&E had its primary manufuacturing in Hoboken during this period. U.S. patent number 496,123 was issued to W.L.E. Keuffel in 1893 for "folding rule joints" of a "Zig-Zag Rule". K&E catalogues stated it as "spring joint steel rules."
Folding pocket rule, 4 foot (3 feet extant), made by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Chicago, no date, circa 1891-1894. Yellow finished wood with black markings, 6 fold (as found), 5/8" high x 7-1/4" wide (closed); metal tips; graduated in inches and sixteenths. (Sections after three feet on one side are lacking; flip side runs other direction, from 12" to end, 48"). Marked on first section: Keuffel & Esser Co. New York & Chicago. Pat'd March 29, 1881. "C B" logo with depiction of a man with arms spread. No stock number. K&E had its primary manufuacturing in Hoboken during this period. Dating based on listing of Chicago branch (established 1891) and no appearance of St. Louis branc