The Venus of Wuppertal: Voss De Luxe

As if one “project typewriter” weren’t enough, I now have two in the works.

My daughter wanted a project typewriter, and I can deny her nothing.  Her requirements:

  • a portable
  • something we could paint
  • something with a case

My requirements:

  • a solid, high quality typewriter – only the best for my little daughter
  • something interesting that I don’t already own
  • something in terrible cosmetic condition that I wouldn’t feel guilty about repainting

We looked around on eBay even though I’d sworn off eBay.

Initially I was leaning towards a very beat-up Olympia SM3, but then this terrible looking “Sad Face”  Voss De Luxe appeared on my screen.  Yes, that will do nicely. The fact that the main shell is easily removed in two pieces sealed the deal. Also, it had a cursive typeface which my daughter loved.  Me, I am pretty meh about cursive and script typefaces because I am an old crabapple. I find cursive and script hard to read. My fantasy typeface is 6 cpi Gigantica.

Like a Voss
196X Voss De Luxe serial number 231065

The typewriter arrived from the eBay seller intact and I breathed a deep sign of relief. The crusty painted surfaces are in TERRIBLE condition. It has the patina of a Stone Age artifact, as if it had been excavated during an archaeologic dig on the banks of the Rhine.

But did I mention that I like junkers?

Superficial cosmetics aside, this thing can type like a son-of-a-gun.  It’s all stiff and gummy now, but I can tell this one will type very, very well once I clean it up. It has a satisfying, tight little *SNICK* when the escapement engages. The solid and classy mechanics remind me of my Torpedo. The carriage shift feels a little heavy to my sensitive lady hands. If it had basket shift, it would be extra perfect.

The weird tabbing mechanism (you push the tab bar in, not down) was all gummed up and stuck, but just playing with it a bit (without cleaning) loosened it up. It has a very classy tab brake system that gently assists the carriage as it whirls to each set tab point.

Despite being stiff and gummy, the machine seems to be in almost perfect typing condition.  The only issue it had is that the carriage return lever hits the ribbon cover as it rolls by – it sits just a wee bit low.  Perhaps some gentle bending will do the trick? This thing probably took some hard knocks to the head in its lifetime and the case – adorable though it is – is just soft plaid fabric with a broken zipper.


The robust aesthetic is growing on me.  This typewriter has solid curves – ample hips like a typewriter fertility goddess. It is the Venus of Wuppertal, recently unearthed – the typewriter of good fortune, good harvest, and plenty.


That Paleolithic patina

The plan is to remove all the painted casing parts, sand blast them and then powder coat them.

To that end, I attended to a two-hour class on sand blasting and powder coating at Techshop in Redwood City.


Roomy blasting cabinet


Our instructor demonstrates powder coating technique


This is the sand blasting / powder coating sample I did – I am very pleased with the result. The enlargement and bright lighting of the photo makes it look like there is more “orange peel” than there actually is.

So now I am certified to use the equipment and can come in any time and sand blast and powder coat to my heart’s content.


My daughter is thinking about colors. She is young, and her Tasteful Design Modulator is not yet fully matured, so we’ll see where this goes. I would like something understated and classy.  At Prismatic Powders, there are 6,500 colors to choose from. Your suggestions are welcome.

My druthers: I would like to try to match the cream of the cover and repaint just the very beat-up cover and gray lower casing.  It would be nice to preserve the “De Luxe” and “Voss” decals of the paper table and cream back panel.



10 thoughts on “The Venus of Wuppertal: Voss De Luxe

  1. Ooo, that’s going professional on the painting! Proper blasting and powder-coating, that will be a very neat looking machine. Very curious what the choice will be 🙂
    (Those decals look like they could be reproducible, another color choice!)


    • Well, we’ll see! My daughter is making the powder coat color decision. I may need to sand blast and paint more than once depending on my results the first time around. I understand that cast metals (eg the cast aluminum of the shell) can “outgas” and cause bubbles and pinholes in the painted surface. The parts will require rigorous surface prep and preheating.


    • I remember, as a kid, being fascinated by the Venus of Willendorf – I had seen a picture of it in a Time-Life book. This typewriter with its curvy “hips” and Stone Age patina brought me back in time.


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