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Name Keuffel & Esser Co.
Details 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.
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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
1800-1990s
MG 1639

The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
library@jerseyhistory.org
http://www.jerseyhistory.org
© 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.

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Descriptive Summary
Creator: Keuffel & Esser Co.
Title: Keuffel & Esser Company Papers
Dates 1862-2004
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

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Historical Note:
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.

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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.
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Access Points
The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.

Subject Names:
Busch, A.E.
Esser, Herman.
Grogan, Edward T.
Keuffel, Wilhelm J. D.
Nye, Thomas R.
Schermerhorn, H. F.
Volpe, George S.
Wood, Sam Jr.

Subject Organizations:
Keuffel & Esser Co.

Subject Topics:
Drawing instruments.
Mechanical drawing.
Slide-rule.
Surveying instrument industry.
Surveying--Instruments.

Subject Places:
Belgium.
Chicago (Ill.)
Hoboken (N.J.)
Japan
Newark (N.J.)
Ontario.
Puerto Rico.
Washington (State)

Document Types:
Architectural drawings.
Contracts.
Letters (Correspondence)
Manuals.
Minutes.
Plans (Drawings)
Stock certificates.
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Related Material
See also: Four Keuffel & Esser Catalogs, 6th floor books, Call numbers 681.2 K42-K516 (6th floor stacks)

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Administrative Information
Preferred Citation
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1639, Keuffel & Esser Co. Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Acquisition Information
Donated by Susan I. Sherwood, 2004.

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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

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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

Associated Records

Image of Color photo of former Keuffel & Esser Co. east building, corner Grand & Third Sts., Hoboken, n.d., ca. Apr. 1982. - Print, Photographic

Color photo of former Keuffel & Esser Co. east building, corner Grand & Third Sts., Hoboken, n.d., ca. Apr. 1982. - Print, Photographic

Color photo of former Keuffel & Esser Co. east building, corner Grand & Third Streets, Hoboken, no date, circa April 1982. 3-1/2" x 5" high print, no processor's date. Photographer: Mel Kiernan, Hoboken. View is northwest. Includes view of the clock tower of the K&E west building (known as the Clock Tower Building) at Third and Adams Streets.

Image of B+W photo negative of development between 3rd & 4th Sts. east from Marshall St., Hoboken, n.d., ca. 1911-1918. - Negative, Glass Plate

B+W photo negative of development between 3rd & 4th Sts. east from Marshall St., Hoboken, n.d., ca. 1911-1918. - Negative, Glass Plate

Black-and-white photographic negative of westside railroad tracks and development between Third and Fourth Streets; taken from Jersey City Heights, Hoboken, no date, circa 1911-1918. 4" x 5" wide glass plate negative (see accession notes). Photographer not indicated. PDF on file. Once part of Ted Conrad Collection and may have been published by the Hudson City Historical Society. View is east with railroad tracks at the bottom with Marshall Street the first street beyond them. Note that the block bounded by 3rd & 4th Streets and Marshall to Harrison has been drained and filled. The Keuffel & Esser Co. west plant building (opened 1907) is prominently in view. Several other busines

Image of B+W photos, 4, of Keuffel & Esser Co. west plant (before renovation to Clock Tower Apartments), Hoboken, 1975-1976. - Print, Photographic

B+W photos, 4, of Keuffel & Esser Co. west plant (before renovation to Clock Tower Apartments), Hoboken, 1975-1976. - Print, Photographic

Black-and-white photographs, four, of Keuffel & Esser Co. west plant (before renovation to Clock Tower Apartments), Third Street between Adams and Jefferson Streets, Hoboken, circa 1975-1976. 3-1/2" square prints plus 620 format negatives for each. Photographer not stated, but attributed to Ted Conrad. Reverse of all are blank. 1: View north of clock tower at Adams and Third Streets. 2: View southwest of the Adams Street facade towards Third Street. 3: View east on Third Street from west of Jefferson St. 4: View of the back side of the plant building bordering on Jefferson St.

Image of B+W photo of southwest Hoboken, circa 1976. - Print, Photographic

B+W photo of southwest Hoboken, circa 1976. - Print, Photographic

Black-and-white photograph of southwest Hoboken, circa 1976. 3-1/2" square print plus 620 format negative. Photographer not stated, but attributed to Ted Conrad. Reverse is blank. View northeast is from Jersey City Heights. The Andrew Jackson Gardens public housing project is seen at Jackson and Third Streets. Note Keuffel & Esser Company clock tower building at center right. This viewpoint is seen in photo 2014.044.0100 which is a ca. 1887-1890 photograph of the same vista.

Image of B+W photos, 3, of construction of Andrew Jackson Gardens, Hoboken, n.d., (ca. 1950-1951.) - Print, Photographic

B+W photos, 3, of construction of Andrew Jackson Gardens, Hoboken, n.d., (ca. 1950-1951.) - Print, Photographic

Black-and-white photographs, three, of construction of public housing project (future Andrew Jackson Gardens), Hoboken, no date (circa 1950-1951.) 3-1/2" square prints. Photographer not stated, but attributed to Ted Conrad. Reverse of all are blank. All views are east or northeast from Jersey City Heights (Riverview Park area) covering from Third Street on the south to Fifth Street. (It opened for the first occupants in 1952.) ---- public housing / projects / real estate / government

Image of B+W photo of southwest Hoboken, May 1974. - Print, Photographic

B+W photo of southwest Hoboken, May 1974. - Print, Photographic

Black-and-white photograph of southwest Hoboken, May 1974. 3-1/2" square print plus 620 format negative. Photographer not stated, but attributed to Ted Conrad. Reverse is blank. Date is as stated on processor's envelope by Conrad. View northeast is from Jersey City Heights. The Andrew Jackson Gardens public housing project is seen at Jackson and Third Streets. Note Keuffel & Esser Company clock tower building at center right. This viewpoint is seen in photo 2014.044.0100 which is a ca. 1887-1890 photograph of the same vista.

Image of Sepia-tone group photo of Keuffel & Esser Co. employees posed outside newly opened west plant on Adams St. near 3rd St. for K&E 40th anniversary, Hoboken, July 20, 1907. - Print, Photographic

Sepia-tone group photo of Keuffel & Esser Co. employees posed outside newly opened west plant on Adams St. near 3rd St. for K&E 40th anniversary, Hoboken, July 20, 1907. - Print, Photographic

Sepia-tone group photograph of Keuffel & Esser Co. employees posed outside newly opened west plant on Adams Street near Third St. during commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the founding of K&E in 1867, Hoboken, July 20, 1907. 7-1/2" high x 9-1/4" wide print mounted on photographer's board (mount irregularly trimmed and chipped.) Photograph taken by A[drian]. Van Kampen, 306 Washington St., Hoboken (blind emboss on print at center bottom.) PDF on file. This print belonged to Harry A. Bremer who is the young man (boy) seated at center front on a tool box (see detail image of him and boy behind him with horseshoe and pliers.) He is believed to actually be Harry A. Bremer, Jr. of J