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Tuesday 3 January 2012

Silver Slivers: Gossen Tippas make me bare my soul

When Richard Polt talked about once having had a rush of blood to the head (as if that was likely!) and wanting to acquire Groma Kolibris in all sorts of colour schemes, I thought Gossen Tippa.
Many years ago, on the portable typewriter forum on Yahoo!, I saw someone's collection (in Europe, as I recall) of Gossen Tippas in a vast array of colours, and I wanted them all! Then, and there!
Fortunately for me (or unfortunately, as the case may be), my first attempt to try to amass Gossen Tippas (and I'm talking here about the original model, pre the Pilot) in many colours was a disaster, so I quickly went off the idea. I went off the forum, too, in case of any further crazy, costly temptations.
The disaster was a "cream" coloured Tippa which I got from an eBay seller in Spain (you may note the Spanish keyboard). He saw me coming, and how! The Tippa was a total mess. I don't think I've ever seen a worse case of acne on a typewriter. Quite apart from that, it was in bits, and not a complete collection of bits, either. Even my friend Terry Cooksley, for once in his lifetime, threw his hands in the air and said putting it back together again was beyond him (which means, it was beyond anyone!). So for several years it has just sat in a box in a shed, still in bits, and looking very forlorn indeed.
This is what I have come to love about blogging on typewriters and becoming accepted as a typospherian. It's coming up to a year now since I started this blog. After taking much advice from Richard Polt, about a blog versus a website etc, I decided to take the plunge on blogging. Little did I realise I was entering into a world I hadn't previously known existed - though Richard did explain typecasting to me. To be honest, I didn't expect to be doing much typecasting myself. I thought that would be more in Richard Amery's line, since he is a constant user of typewriters. But one thing Richard Polt did say to me, as he egged me on, is that I could start by blogging on some of the typewriters I own, and "that should keep you going for a while". How right he was!
As some of you may be aware, I have been posting a lot lately on my various typewriters. Of course, this has had the much desired (yet totally unanticipated) effect of making me get my typewriters out of storage (in an array of places around Canberra), clean them up, put some fresh ribbon in them and type away merrily. Oh what joy the typosphere has brought me! At long, long last, these typewriters are no longer just sitting in a storage unit or a shed, lovely but lonely, gathering dust - they are being used (and don't they love it! - I love it, too).
As I approached the subject of Gossen Tippas (and other subsequent Tippas), I gathered up all the Tippas in my collection. Among them was the much lamented Spanish Gossen Tippa. Another was one of the first typewriters I acquired upon starting out in this mad pastime of collecting them.
It has always struck me (at least from the experience of the first two I acquired) that Gossen Tippas, seemingly such small, delicate machines, appear to have had far more gruelling workouts in their lifetimes than most other typewriters. I guess the Spanish Tippa had once been full of life - it certainly showed all the signs of having had a full, hugely active life. That was also clearly the case with the first Gossen Tippa I found - at a Salvation Army op-shop. Evidence inside the (fascinating) case showed it had been owned by a Canberra architect called Horrie Holt, and the evidence of the machine itself indicated Horrie had hauled it around building sites etc and given it a fair old working over. Once it had started to show obvious signs of wear and tear, Horrie had handed it over to the Salvos. But as a beginner in typewriter collecting, I didn't care about that (Oh, all right, I wished it had been more kindly treated, but a Gossen Tippa is a Gossen Tippa, after all, regardless of the state it's in). To find a Gossen Tippa at the Salvos (cost $5) was one of my most unforgettable moments. I'd never seen such a small typewriter. And the other big positive to come out of it was that, curious to find out as much as I could about Gossen Tippas, I was eagerly led to Will Davis's website. And that was the start of a magnificent obsession.
I tried for years to get Horrie's Gossen Tippa looking as schmick as most of my other typewriters, but to no avail. In the end I gave up, as Terry had done with the Spanish Tippa. I just put it aside and virtually forgot about it. Nothing more could be done. It still worked OK, but what a sorry sight it was. And much later I won an absolutely stunningly beautiful original Gossen Tippa, with the silver keytops, in great working condition, from an Australian eBay seller (as unlikely as that may seem).
Then, when I came across the Spanish Tippa and Horrie's Tippa this week, in the light of some recent "success" I have had with stripping paint off typewriters, I decided these two Gossen Tippas would no longer languish in a box in a shed. The trouble with Gossen Tippas (original and Pilot), as I long ago discovered, is that you can't take them completely apart. But, regardless of that, I have done the best I could with these two (as you can tell, they are still works in progress). The good news is that they are both back working, and looking great (at least in my opinion). Better to be naked and in service than be painted, pock-marked and dumped in a box in a shed, I say. I hope you will agree.

A post on the full range of Tippas, from the original Gossen and the Pilot through to the Adlers and the Litton-Nakajima Tippa, will follow soon.



Richard P said...

Wow, those Silver Slivers look great, like typewriters a ninja would throw at his enemies!

I am enjoying the whole series of stories about machines in your collection -- they prove that there is a lot to say about any writing machine. Sorry for my lack of comments, I had to use a relative's computer for the Web over the last week and did not want to log into Blogger, which would have required logging her out.

Robert Messenger said...

No need to apologise, I figured you were probably in transit. I'm just so pleased these two Tippas have finally regained their usefulness - and their dignity, I should have added.

Robert Messenger said...

PS: Looking forward to hearing about the Condor!

Bill M said...

Very interesting machines. I really like that you are posting so much about all the fine typewriters in you collection. I anticipate reading your blog each time I get to my computer. I learn quite a bit here. Great work!

Cameron said...

I have a Gossen Tippa B, made in 1953, bought by a friend's father while he was in Germany. I have a very soft spot for this particular machine, despite its many quirks (skipping, mushy margins). It's an amazing piece of workmanship.

How wonderful that your blog is helping you bring many of your typewriters out into the light of day, and duly shared with us! Greatly appreciated & enjoyed.