Past Treasure of the Month – June 2017
The predecessors to calculators, slide rules were used to make rapid mathematical calculations.
The Rosenberg Library exhibited an antique Keuffel & Esser slide rule which belonged to Andrew Fraser, an innovative architect who designed several notable buildings in Galveston during the first half of the 20th century. The slide rule was donated to the Library in 1977 by Sister Gabrielle from the Ursuline Convent in Galveston.
Andrew Fraser (1883 – 1977)
Andrew Fraser was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1883. He attended the Inverness Institute of Technology before enrolling at the Heriot-Watt College of Engineering and Architecture at Edinburgh University. Fraser came to the United States to work as a professional architect in 1915. His first project in Galveston was for the Jean Lafitte Hotel commissioned by W.L. Moody, Jr. Opened in 1927, the 10-story structure was the most modern hotel located in Galveston’s downtown business district. It boasted 204 guest rooms — each with its own private bath. Two years later, Fraser designed the towering Buccaneer Hotel on Galveston’s beachfront as well as the Medical Arts building adjacent to ANICO on 21st Street and Mechanic. He also served as a consultant on the United States Post Office Building on 25th Street. After practicing architecture for five decades, Fraser died in Galveston in 1977.
Keuffel & Esser Company
Keuffel & Esser (K & E) was a drafting supply company founded by German immigrants William Keuffel and Herman Esser in 1867. It was the first American company to specialize in drawing materials and drafting instruments. The manufacturing complex was located in Hoboken, New Jersey, while the showroom and offices were located in Manhattan.
K & E produced hard rubber curves and triangles, drafting paper, surveying instruments, and slide rules. The firm was financially successful until the 1970s when electronic calculators, CAD systems, and laser surveying techniques were developed.
In 1982, K & E filed for bankruptcy and was bought out by the Azon Corporation which continues to own the K & E brand name and trademarks.