|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|
Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, 1909. 33rd Edition. Issued January 1909. Small 8vo (4-3/8" x 8-3/8") cloth spine, stiff wrapper; pp. xii, 544, illustrated; errata tipped in. Images of the cover and first 11 pages are shown. Catalog is priced. On page v, the bird's-eye view illustration appears, a black-and-white drawing, "General Office and Factories, Hoboken, N.J." with the added line "Completed 1907." Since the previous edition was issued in 1906, this catalog is the first to have the view that includes the Clock Tower building. The view is looking northwest. The building as illustrated has the date 1906 on it which is when it was built; company officially moved into
Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, 1909. 30th Edition. 1900-1901. Facsimile reprint edition, 2008. Small 8vo (5-1/4" x 8") softcover. pp.482, illustrated. Catalog is priced. Printed in black-and-white and reproducing a copy belonging to Clark W. McCoy. Introduction and Cover Art copyright 2008. Introduction on page [ii] by Ross Bolton, but no other imprint information except ISBN. Reproduction quality is fair to good with a lack of crisp detail.
Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, 1913. 34th Edition; Canada Edition. 1913. Facsimile reprint edition, 2008. Small 8vo (5-1/2" x 8-1/2") softcover. pp.566, illustrated. Catalog is priced. Printed in black-and-white. Introduction and Cover Art copyright 2008. Introduction on page [ii] by Ross Bolton, but no other imprint information except ISBN. Text notes that the Canadian edition was the same as the U.S. edition with the only difference being that orders were to be sent to K&E's Montreal branch office. Reproduction quality is fair to good with a lack of crisp detail.
Methodical Text Book to Round Writing for Self-Instruction and for Use in Schools. By F[riedrich]. Soennecken. With a Preface by Royal Privy Councillor Prof. R. Releaux, Formerly Director of the Berlin Royal Technological Academy etc. Thirtieth Edition. Published by the Keuffel & Esser Co., New York and Chicago. [Printed in Germany.] No date, circa 1891-1894. Oblong 8vo softcover (7" x 9-1/2"). pp. [i]-xxiv, 1-32 plus wrappers; 2 inserted guide leaves. Thirtieth edition is probably 30th printing. The "Chicago" listing (branch office; next one to be added was in 1894) would date this as between 1891 and 1894. "Printed in Germany" is at the bottom of back cover. PDF on file. Notice to
K&E Slide Rules: A Self Instruction Manual. By Lyman M. Kells, Willis F. Kern & Jarmes R. Bland. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, [copyright 1955]; this edition not issued before 1962. First edition thus. 8vo hardcover, tan cloth.. pp. [iv], 126. Index. "For use with the following K&E Slide Rules: Log Log Duplex Decitrig, Jet Log Duplex Decitrig." the Jet Log slide rule was introduced in 1962 so this edition with the imprinted cover and title page reference to the Jet Log would place this printing as no earlier than 1962. Code number at foot of page 126: 41604. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken when this item was issued.
Catalog, Spanish edition: Catalogo Keuffel & Esser Co., Fundada en 1867. Fabricas, Oficinas, Gerencia General y Departamento de Exportacion, Adams & Third Streets, Hoboken, N.J. EE. UU. de A. Esta Edicion on Idioma Espanol corresponde a neustro Catalogo en Ingles "40th Edition." Copyright 1946. Printed in the U.S.A. 8vo cloth boards, pp. iv, 360, illustrated. No price list in rear pocket (possible that a Spanish edition was not issued.) The 39th Edition Catalog published in 1943 was an interim wartime catalog. The English version of the next edition, the 40th, was issued in October 1944. As seen, the Spanish language edition followed two years later. The binding is the same in all respect
Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York; General Office & Factories - Hoboken, N.J. 36th Edition. Issued January 1921. 8vo cloth boards, pp. x, 482, illustrated. Lacking: separate price list as called for (insertion in rear pocket.) Page iii is the typical bird's-eye view of the Hoboken general office and factories. Photo views of the parent and branch offices follow. Catalog is not priced as is stated in notice on front pastedown. ---- See multimedia link for a PDF of Google scanned copy of this edition (not the copy present in this record) including the price list.
Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York; General Office & Factories - Hoboken, N.J. 37th Edition. Issued January 1928. 8vo cloth boards, pp. ix, 548, illustrated. Laid in at front: (formerly attached to pastedown) is a sample card of a "Selection of K&E Drawing and Tracing Papers." Lacking: separately published price list as called for (inserted in rear pocket.) Page iii is the typical bird's-eye view of the Hoboken general office and factories. Photo views of the parent and branch offices follow. Catalog is not priced as is stated in notice preceding pg [i]. The paper sample card has 14 feelers.
K&E Salisbury Products Division Slide Rules. By Joseph L. Soper. [Pleasanton, CA]: The Oughtred Society, . First edition. Small 4to softcover. pp. [xiv], 131, illustrated. No index. Copy 1. Soper became a Keuffel & Esser Hoboken employee in 1966 and was soon transferred to the Salibury Products Plant in Lakeville, Ct.. This wholly-owned division produced slide rules for K&E from ca. 1951 to 1976. It recounts the corporate history of the period including the transfer of Salisbury operations back to Hoboken in 1969 for a brief period that ended in 1970. Useful timeline from 1951 as well as the sale and demise of K&E and its successive corporate owners. Soper provides a detailed hist
The Oughtred Society Slide Rule Reference Manual. Edited by Ted Hume and Bob Koppany. Los Angeles: Striking Impressions, . First edition. Small 4to softcover. pp. [viii], 104, illustrated. Indexed. Copy 1. Keuffel & Esser Co., a Hoboken based company that was once a major maker of slide rules, is among the many companies whose products are seen and discussed in this work. Chapter titles: What is a Slide Rule How A Slide Rule Works History of the Slide Rule Common Types of Slide Rules Less Common Types of Slide Rules Learning Your Way Around a Slide Rule Performing Basic Calculations Performing Advanced Calculations Tricks and Time Savers List of 24 Common Slide Rule Scal
Catalog: K&E. Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, August 1962. Forty-third edition. Three ring binder (2-3/4" thick spine) with printed vinyl covering; contents are 12 catalogues, price lists; printed tab section dividers; notice leaf: "Introducing the New K&E Product Numbering System." Spine imprinted: B. L. Makepeace, Inc. Also an oval printed foil label on front cover with their name and Boston address plus "Authorized K&E Distributor." This was a complete format change from the previous edition of the catalogue (1954, 42nd edition) which was a book format. Now individual printed booklets for each product area, 8-3/8" wide x 11" high, numbered 1 to 12, plus separate pamphlet with
K&E Catalog 9, Optical Metrology, Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken, August 27, 1962. Forty-third edition. Digital images of original as found in library catalog 2009.006.0275. See primary record for more information. Tiffs media archive. PDF on file. The catalog was 32 pages plus a 4 page price list including a conversion table of old to new product numbers. K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken.
K&E 42nd Edition Catalog. [Hoboken.] Issued by the Keuffel & Esser Co., General Office and Factories, Hoboken, N.J., copyright 1955. 8vo hardcover, pp. 475, unpriced. Separately issued price list not present. Previous owner's name in ink on front endpaper: Technical Sergeant Williard H. Coop. This is the full line catalogue including illustrations of most products. Generally, illustrations are in black-and-white in the typical, traditional style of these catalogues, but it does have more modern photographic representations than were seen in previous catalogues. First issued in 1954. The last copyright date in this catalog is 1955 making it a later issue - revisions or corrections, if an
K&E Slide Rules: A Self Instruction Manual. By Lyman M. Kells, Willis F. Kern & Jarmes R. Bland. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., Morristown, N.J., [copyright 1955]; this printing not issued before 1968 or 1969. 8vo hardcover, tan cloth. pp. [iv], 126. Index. "For use with the following K&E Slide Rules: Log Log Duplex Decitrig, Jet Log Duplex Decitrig." the Jet Log slide rule was introduced in 1962 so this edition with the imprinted cover and title page reference to the Jet Log would place this printing as no earlier than 1962. Code number at foot of page 126: 55271 K&E had their main office and factories in Hoboken up to the end of 1968 when Morristown became the headquarters. The
The Use of the Slide Rule. By Allan R. Cullimore, Dean, College of Industrial Science, Toledo University. Copyright 1915 by Keuffel and Esser Co. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., New York & Hoboken. Issued 1915 to circa 1921. 8vo hardcover, green cloth , pp. 36 +  pp. ads. A textbook and not a manual. It is not lllustrated with the typical line drawing showing how to the use a slide rule. Title page price, 50 cents. Contents are on page 36. The advertisements at the end are for K&E slide rules. The last page of ads states "Write for our 566 page General Catalog." That catalog would have been the 35th edition of 1915; in fact the title is not listed in a circa 1920 copy of that edition.
Catalogs: K&E. Keuffel & Esser Co., Hoboken; Catalog 5, Catalog 6, Catalog 12. All titled as first revision, issued 1966 and 1967. All are separate 3-hole punch booklets, 9" x 12", for inclusion in a 3-ring binder or other catalog storage file. Not present: separately issued price lists. The 43rd edition was first issued in 1962. It was a completely new redesign and format for the catalogue (along with a new stock numbering system) into twelve separate booklets for product lines. They could be issued separately or as a whole in a three-ring binder. The three catalogues below are not marked as 43rd edition, but are the first revisions of the 1962 first issue. 5, first revision, copyright
The Compass. A Monthly Journal for Engineers, Surveyors, Architects, Draughtsmen and Students. Volume 1 [I]. - 1891-1892. Edited by William Cox. Published by Keuffel & Esser Co., 127 Fulton St., New York. 8vo blue cloth, gilt titled spine. The bound issue of this journal comprised 12 issues from Vol. I, No. 1, August 1891 to Vol I, No. 12, July 1892. Index for volume [pp. ii-v] precedes issue No. 1. and text for it is in notes. (PDF on file for a digitized copy that included all volumes published; see notes for source; note the digitized copy did not have the index leaves.) Keuffel & Esser had their main factory in Hoboken at this time, while the parent house was in New York City. This
K&E 41st Edition Catalog. [Hoboken] Part 1(of two parts.) Issued by the Keuffel & Esser Co., General Office and Factories, Hoboken, N.J., copyright 1949; issued Oct. 1949. 8vo softcover; part 1, pp. 1-254 + two-page index. Unpriced (price lists typically issued separately are not present.) Part I, issued October 1949, covers: Drafting, Reproduction Equipment and Materials, Slide Rules. It includes illustrations of many products. Generally, illustrations are in black-and-white in the typical, traditional style of these catalogues. See library 2009.006.0053 for a complete set. Unlike the 40th edition, these catalogs have only typographic title pages. They no longer have the decorative
K&E 42nd Edition Catalog. [Hoboken.] Part 2 [of 2.] Issued by the Keuffel & Esser Co., General Office and Factories, Hoboken, N.J., copyright 1955. 8vo softcover, pp. 470, unpriced. This Part 2 catalog (see library 2009.006.0041 for a hardcover copy of the full line catalog) covers: Surveying and Optical Tooling, Equipment and Materials, Measuring Tapes. It includes illustrations of many products. Generally, illustrations are in black-and-white in the typical, traditional style of these catalogues. The separate price list issued for these catalogues is not present.
Catalogue of Keuffel & Esser Co., New York, 1906. 32nd Edition. Issued January 1906; pocket edition. 12mo (3-3/4" x 5-3/4"), stiff paper wrapper; pp. viii, 532, illustrated. Catalog is priced; index at back. Keuffel & Esser had their factory in Hoboken which is depicted twice in the preliminary pages. This building suffered a fire in 1905 which led to the company to construct a fire-proof building on the block west of the one seen here. It opened in 1907 with a distinctive clock tower. K&E moved its offices to Hoboken and it became shown as the the General Office and Factory. The company repaired and continued to use the building seen in this catalog until it left Hoboken in 1968. B