William J. D. Keuffel and Herman Esser partnered 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, and was incorporated in 1889. K&E introduced a new line of surveying instruments in the early 1890s, many of which are displayed in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. In 1936, K&E introduced the Leroy Lettering System, consisting of pen, scriber and template. The system quickly gained favor with architects and draftsmen for the clean and consistent lettering it produced.