|VOSS history. The following information has come from several sources. German collectors Norbert Schwarz and Thomas Furtig have provided information via e-mail and the German collectors' online group 'Historichesbuero,' and US collector Mike Fritch has helped with translation and clarification. I've taken what has been given and distilled the following brief history of this company as best we can perceive it now, and added my own observations.|
|Right, the world famous 'Wuppertal Schwebebahn' or Wuppertal Flying Train, an overhead monorail in that city, which passed by the Voss factory.|
|Ernst Friedrich Voss was born in Cologne, Germany in 1890. In the 1930's, he became president of Remington-Rand Wuppertal. Following the destruction of the Second World War, Voss apparently desired to begin his own typewriter manufacturing, but the damage prevented the making of the many sub-assemblies required for this. He thus opened a typewriter repair firm first, repairing the many typewriters damaged during the war (which were sorely needed, since immediately after the conflict, there were absolutely no brand new machines to be had.)
In 1947, the situation had improved enough that Voss launched his own typewriter production. The machines were based upon the Triumph portables, and comparison of the Voss ST24 in my collection with an Adler machine reveals very many similarities in concept and construction. (For example, the type-bar mechanism is conceptually identical, and constructed nearly so; many features of design regarding carriage mounted mechanisms are identical, as well.) Although the first production of indigenous Voss machines occurred in 1947, the machines were first introduced for sale in 1948. (For those who don't know, Triumph and Adler machines were identical at this time.)
As an interesting side note, Paul Gossen had worked for Ernst Voss after the war. It was this Paul Gossen who developed the very small, flat Gossen Tippa typewriter, an award-winning design in the growing field of small, flat travel typewriters which had been launched by Paillard all the way back in 1935, and which had been growing ever since. Gossen's own firm began building this typewriter; Voss was left out of this market.
|The Voss typewriters became known for their very high standard of quality. Voss was known as a perfectionist, and had very high standards for machines which bore his name. It was this quality which allowed Voss to market its more fully-optioned machines as office typewriters, even though they were actually in the size range of portables, and smaller than contemporary Alpina machines marketed the same way.
Production of the Voss machines was not high, yearly, compared to many other kinds of machines. Ernst Voss certainly knew this, and that there was also a clear trend in the market toward the flat, travelling typewriter. Some companies, such as Koch's of Bielefeld, and Keller & Knappich of Augsburg, had based their entire typewriter ventures on smaller machines than the Voss.
|Voss had wished to produce a flat typewriter since early on, but in 1956 was prevented from having any relation with Gossen & Co. as the Grundig organization, which owned Adler and Triumph, bought out Gossen in 1956 and stepped up production of the Gossen Tippa, which had recently been restyled in a new plastic body. The trend now was clearer than ever, and at about this time period, Ernst Voss made a fateful decision to get into the market for smaller typewriters in some way.|
|Left, the Triumph Tippa, the machine which galvanized Voss into action. Right, the Oliver Courier, a member of the family of license-produced machines that Voss joined in order to offer a competitor in the field of smaller typewriters.|
|As my readers already know, there was a large family of portable typewriters produced all over Europe in various places at various times, which I have referred to as the "Oliver Courier" family, for lack of a better reference. It may be true that my new term for it, the "Euro-Portable" family, may be more accurate. In any event, it was this design, which was available for use easily, that Voss acquired in order to compete in the field of smaller typewriters. Theoretically, the new machine would indeed be smaller and less expensive than the large Voss machines then being made, but in fact the machine was not at all in the field of flat, travelling typewriters at all, and while widely produced in Europe, was never at any point or time well known as being a high quality machine. Thus Voss began a venture which satisfied none of his original criteria, and which would in large part lead to the end of Voss Schreibmaschinenwerke.
The design entered production sometime around 1960 as the Voss Privat. It had been reported that the design was obtained through purchasing of the tooling of the Oliver Typewriter Manufacturing Company; see the later pages on this subject. Oliver had suffered badly in the 1950's, and did have some kind of relationship with Voss very late in its own history. Beeching mentions in his book "Century of the Typewriter" that at times the Oliver machine was sent to Germany and sold as the Voss, and that the German machine was sent to England labelled Oliver. No examples to prove this are known, but Beeching's recollection, and that offered by German authors, make it certain that some business relationship between Oliver and Voss did exist.
In any event, Voss became dissatisfied with the quality of the Voss Privat. He spent a good deal of money in attempting improvements to the design of the machine, but this was only a small amount of money when compared to the money spent by much larger firms in developing their smaller machines. Thus, for his investment, Voss was only able to achieve small improvements to the details of the machine. The situation became critical as the company could not make a return on its investment in the Privat. In addition to this unfortunate situation, the older, original Voss design was well-made, but expensive to produce, and becoming outdated since, for example, Voss had made no attempt to convert the machine to basket shift, which all of the competitive manufacturers had already done, or were in the process of doing, in their large portable typewriters. Neither Voss machine could be manufactured and sold at a profit, and the money ran out.
|Voss allowed the Belgian company INTERFOR to invest heavily in his company. The new firm (after the buyout) was formed on March 20, 1964. However, although a new prototype machine had been developed (this prototype is in the hands of a collector, according to Norbert Schwarz) Mr. Voss passed away exactly two months later, on May 20, 1964. Apparently, the company lost all of its direction with the passing of Ernst Voss, and any changes to the machines in production would not have helped the situation; the prototype was not placed in production. INTERFOR decided not to continue its very brief venture in typewriters, and by the end of 1965, the remains of the Voss Schreibmaschinenwerke had been liquidated. Thus ends the story of one of the finest quality portable typewriters manufactured in the latter half of the last century.|