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Sunday 1 January 2012

Voss Portable-Office Typewriter

What better way to start 2012 than with the Voss portable typewriter, a consistent favourite with typewriter collectors across the world?
It seems possible the Alpina set a pattern which Voss successfully adopted with its Series 24. Particularly high standards in design, engineering and  quality control were critical and constant components, wrapped in a product that could double as a portable and an office typewriter.
Wuppertaler Schreibmaschinenfabrik Voss GmbH, in Wuppertal, West Germany, had been making typewriters which were the same size as other pre-World War II German portables, such as the Olympia, Triumph, Torpedo, Erika and Continental.
Please forgive this attempt to pinpoint the Germany typewriter manufacturers. I'm no map maker, obviously. But this might give you an approximate idea of where German typewriters of various brands were made, if can follow my "colour coding".
In the early 1950s, Olympia introduced its SM series, but Alpina and Voss went somewhat bigger with their “medium” size portables, while elsewhere the like of Gossen and Groma started making their ultraslims.
Voss acquired a designer in Reinhard Wohlfahrt, who had worked for Seidel & Naumann in Dresden before the War.
The Wuppertal typewriter factory was founded in 1947 by Ernst Friedrich Voss (born 1890, Cologne; died 1964), who pre-war had worked for Remington Rand and then started a typewriter repair shop.
In 1948 he began production of Voss typewriters. The manufacturing of this larger style machine, the S24, ended in 1960. Voss then marketed a machine in the smaller Japy-Oliver-AMC-Patria-Swissa range, but in 1965 the company was liquidated.
You can see Georg Sommeregger typing with a Voss at
*I am indebted to Georg Sommeregger, Arnold Betzwieser and Will Davis in putting together a history of the Voss company.
The Voss comes in many different colour patterns, and these two especially appeal to me:


& said...
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Richard P said...

That's a remarkable pangram they used. Translation: "That much-admired, cubically formed onyx is known to be in the possession of the Pope."

Robert Messenger said...

Well done! It never occurred to me to try to translate it. In fact, I hadn't even paid it any heed until you mentioned it.

shordzi said...

Hi Robert, just reading your new years post now, as I am catching up with my Voss research (see here).

In order to establish a more thorough serial number and model type net, I am collecting Voss serial numbers. There is one on the excellent manual you reproduce, but would you mind sending me the others on occasion.

One small correction: I think production of the big machine ran through 1965 (did not end in 1960).

The business relations between the English Oliver and Voss are a fascinating and not very much known chapter. Dingwerth 2008 mentions that the S24 was sold as "Oliver Consort" in England. I have never seen this machine and also the web seems quiet about it. In exchange, I am slowly closing down on the relations between the Oliver Courier and the Voss Privat. See you!

PrincessMissKim said...

Dear Mr. Messenger,

I was recently made a gift of a Voss ST24. It is very similar to the one pictured on your blog with parts labled 1 - 23. The only difference is that where that machine has TAB across the top, mine has De Luxe. My machine does have the TAB key.

It's in great working shape, just needs a new ribbon. The one in the machine is very light. I've been told that I can purchase a 1/2" Remington ribbon which should fit. Would you concur? Also, I'm intrigued by that schematic (labeled 1-23). Do you know were I might get a copy of same indicating what the bits are? I'm only passingly familiar with manual machines. I would very much like to have a manual or some sort of instructions showing the features of this machine.

Thank you for this blog! It is a treasure!

Kim Waters
Athens, GA USA

Robert Messenger said...

Hi Kim. Thank you for your kind words. I scanned that schematic from my own manual. Your searches might uncover someone who has scanned the full manual and made it available as a PDF. If not, let me know. Regarding a ribbon, we have limited options in this country, but a Universal-style ribbon will suitably fit in most machines, including the Voss. I would probably avoid a Remington ribbon, depending on the design of the spool. Many Remington ribbons are peculiar to the brand, rather than of universal application.

PrincessMissKim said...

Thank you, Mr. Messenger for your prompt reply.

The fellow I spoke with about the ribbon said I would need to take the Remington one off the spool it comes on and transfer it to the Voss spools. He said it's a messy job but very do-able even for someone like myself with no prior experience. Would you concur? He also said his shop would do it for me but they're about 90 minutes away so I'm game if it truly as easy as he says!

Also, since I last wrote, I did find this link I think might be of interest to you as well:

It has two Voss manuals, both in German. My German is okay (just) so I'm working through them but I'd love to find English versions. Do you have the manuals produced for the Englsih-speaking market?

Kind regards,


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TokyoJAM said...

Hello Robert,

John Munroe in Tokyo. I've enjoyed your blog and photos since I began collecting a couple of years ago. I have a question about the Voss ST 24 series: do you have any idea how many were made or how many might still be in existence? My modest collection is being featured on TV here (TV Asahi) and they want to know because a typewriter shop owner here in Tokyo had heard of them but never seen one. Any info or opinion you might have would be much appreciated.

Best regards,

Unknown said...

Hi Robert. Nick Fisher in Uk here. Just found this when browsing. At work on Swindon Railway Station. I have three Voss machines. Two are angular Bakelike housed machines, one of which is woodgrain. I also have a later Oliver Voss which is the same as those illustrated. Would you like the serial numbers? With best regards from a very quiet railway. Nick Fisher

EMS Lab said...

I enjoyed reading this brief history of Voss typewriters. Yesterday my wife and I were in a local thrift shop where we found a Voss typewriter in its carry bag. Though I I have not used a typewriter in years I was drawn to this one. We bought it. It works well and even has the paper that tells what all of the parts do. Someone had taken good care of this machine. We plan to do the same.

N said...

Hi Robert, Thanks for a very informative post. I have an Oliver Consort MT 13 which is very interesting in that it has an "Oliver" decal in the style of the Voss at the top of this page with the look of the light & dark green Voss at the top of your page. (It also has "Oliver MT 13" as a decal as well.) Looks to be very rare and I'm wondering why we haven't seen any others. Was there a test run or something? I would upload a picture but am not sure how.

Anonymous said...

New owner from Taiwan

Purchased the Voss 24 from Germany few days ago, the mother of previous owner was a secretary, she kept it for several till her son sold it to me.

A decent German typewriter I admire.

Yu Chou Chang

A lucky owns it in Taipei, Taiwan