|Voss Privat page 2|
|Now, to the details of this machine, and the alterations made to it as compared to the very late Oliver Courier.
This machine bears serial number 197611. This number is above available reference material for Voss serial numbers, which only run through 1960. Judging by the size of the number blocks assigned each year, this machine would likely be from 1961, or possibly early 1962. It does embody some detail changes from the Oliver Courier. First, though, a brief recap is needed.
|It has been said in the history given by German collectors, that Ernst Voss was dissatisfied with the quality of the Privat, and sought to make improvements. For this reason, he spent a considerable amount of money to develop improvements, but it seems that the condition of the company was such that all that could be achieved were some small improvements in details. If there were more radical changes in view, these may never have been implemented.|
|We show this illustration again, to make a point. While the pictures are very similar, they are not identical. The Voss manual actually shows a Voss machine, with German keyboard. The machine shows four screws visible in the sides of the machine, exactly like the Oliver Courier. These screws are NOT present in Privat #197611. It is likely that Voss would not have reprinted the manual to show small changes; thus we may assume that the original Privat machines were essentially identical to the Courier, or were in fact imported Courier machines. This helps in discovering the detail changes.|
|Alterations in the ca. 1961-62 Voss Privat as compared to the final Oliver Courier (and likely then the original Voss Privat machines) are as follows. While all have the very short paper table peculiar only to Oliver Courier and Voss Privat machines, the 197611 has a paper support arm added, mounted on the rear of the paper table and not shown in the accompanying manual. The side screws visible on the older machines are not present on 197611; rather, a new method of attaching the body to the frame is used, with metal tabs on the body screwed onto the frame. The older style frame, with projections for holding the side screws, remains intact, but the projections are not drilled or tapped for receipt of screws. The 197611 employs a linkage for ribbon reversal which is totally unique to itself. It matches neither the Oliver machines (which have a linkage unique to themselves) or the others, which are all identical. The shape and size of the carriage return lever is different on 197611 (it is much larger and more comfortable to use,) and matches neither the Oliver machines or the accompanying manual. All of the various control levers on machines of this family are usually metal, with a small ball cast in the end. The Privat uses plastic tabs on the ends of these levers, unlike any others. It appears that the metals used in the typewriter are not the same as those in the Courier, and that the whole frame of the Privat 197611 is painted.|
|Detail of the Privat, showing decal with model name on the paper table, and the white plastic lever tip on the ribbon selector switch (mounted as on most machines of this family on the upper right side of the type bar segment, and seen here in the lower left corner of the picture.)|
|The available serial number listing for Voss machines ends at 1952. Here, courtesy Thomas Furtig, are the serial numbers following this. 55701-80000, 1953. 80001-95000, 1954. 95001-113000, 1955. 113001-131000, 1956. 131001-145000, 1957. 145001-156000, 1958. 156001-170000, 1959. 170001-186000, 1960.|
|For the collector, the Voss Privat is many things. It is the end-times machine for a great line of portable typewriters, which although manufactured to perfection, were just too expensive for the time. It is also a brief flicker after the acknowledged end of the line from which it was derived, namely that of the Oliver Typewriter Manufacturing Company, and before it the well-known (and original) Oliver Typewriter Company. One could also see the end of Oliver as the end of Byron, which had bought out the Barlock Company, descended from the Columbia Typewriter Company, since Oliver had bought Byron in 1958.
It is also an embodiment of the proof of what happens when a company misses an opportunity, or falls behind the clear trends of an industry. Voss missed out on what he truly wanted -- a flat, travel typewriter -- and the Privat was no substitute. When he tried to improve the Privat to match his own previous standards regarding quality, the end was almost assured. His death at a pivotal point in Voss Schreibmaschinenwerke's history sealed the company's fate. As a final note, in a masterpiece of irony, the Voss Privat I acquired was accompanied by two things not shown here. One, naturally, was its case, in relatively good condition. The other is a typewriter dust cover, obviously made for a very small machine, and which was folded up in good condition inside the case. The dust cover is labelled "Triumph."
|-Will Davis, March 4, 2004|