Gossen Typewriters - Tippa, Tippa B & Tippa Pilot
1948 Gossen Tippa (Model A Mk. I) with Maroon color shell and lid
1949 Gossen Tippa (Model A Mk. I) with Ivory color shell and lid
1952 Gossen Tippa (Model A Mk. II) with Sand color shell and lid
1953 Gossen Tippa (Late Model A Mk. II) with Black color shell and lid
1953 Gossen Tippa B with Gray color shell and lid
Gossen Tippa Pilot
1964 Adler Tippa 1
1968 Adler Tippa S
1977 Adler Tippa S
A Brief History of the Gossen Tippa Portable Typewriter Models, with a glance at Adler and Triumph Tippas
The company P. Gossen & Co. K.-G was founded in Germany in 1919 by Paul Gossen, a 46-year-old engineer. The new firm set about manufacturing and selling electrical measuring instruments. An early product—called the Millivoltmeter—was the first device offered for measuring voltage in the millivolt range. The company was successful, and expanded through the 1920s and 1930s. However, from 1939 into 1945—during World War II—the company was required to dedicate themselves to the provision of electrical instruments needed by the German armed forces.
Paul Gossen passed away during the war—in June 1942—and the company was inherited by his widow and children. Paul's son Hans Gossen, and his son-in-law, Karl Klarner, became the chief executives. In August 1945, the U.S. Group Control Council, Germany (USGCC) allowed the company to resume manufacturing its pre-war product line. Plans to expand into the production of typewriters were accelerated—if not initiated—at that time as well.
1948 — Gossen Launches Their First Typewriter
The chief designer of Gossen's first typewriter, the Gossen Tippa, was Erwin Pfaffenberger who had joined the company in 1924 as a trainee draughtsman. Pfaffenberger apparently strived to improve upon the Hermes Baby, which had been on the market since 1935 and was the first widely-distributed ultra-portable typewriter. When the Gossen Tippa was introduced in 1948, it had a nearly-identical footprint to that of the Baby. It had a similar metal lid that, like the Baby, fit over and attached to the machine, and it was 3/8 inch shorter than the Baby at 2 1/4 inches (or 2 7/16 inches with the lid attached). The Tippa also sported an unique angular, industrial look. At 8 pounds 11 ounces, including the lid, the Tippa weighed a mere 2 ounces more than the Baby.
I am a fan and user of both the Gossen Tippa and the Hermes Baby, although I slightly prefer the feel of my Tippa. However, I find each has its own application; I take the Tippa or a Baby when roaming, but I employ a second generation Hermes 3000 on my desktop at home. A Baby keyboard I have provides diacritics for writing in French, Spanish, or Portuguese, a feature that my Tippa keyboard lacks. That feature bumps my Baby up to my first choice when I want those diacritics while roaming. Your own mileage may vary.
Typewriter collector Paolo Dal Chiele identifies the first two models of the Gossen Tippa as the Tippa A Mk. I and the Tippa A Mk. II. He notes distinguishing features of the Mk. I include its round, glass key tops, and two lid release buttons, one centered on each side of the lid. This model was manufactured into 1950, when it was replaced by the Mk. II. That second model has plastic, tombstone-shaped key tops and a single release button centered on the front end of the lid. The Mk. II was produced into 1953.
A Gossen Tippa promotional brochure—illustrating the Mk. II model—noted that the typefaces offered were Pica and Elite, and the colors available were black, cerulean blue, light grey, maroon, sand, and ivory white. The listed price with metal lid was then DM325 [US$77.50 (= US$883 in 2023)], plus DM70 [US$17 (= US$194 in 2023)] for the optional leather briefcase. Extended payment plans were offered.
A new model—often identified as the Gossen Tippa B—appeared in 1953. Retaining nearly identical dimensions as the earlier models, the angular edges were rounded, thus toning down the industrial look. Although it occasionally came with a metal lid, the Tippa B typically replaced the earlier base and lid with a base/lid combination that had a small leather suitcase look. This lockable case provides storage room in the lid. Over the ribbons, a pair of gull-wing covers with rounded tips replaced the earlier one-piece cover, and the ribbon/stencil selector was eliminated. Initially, the Tippa B retained the original Tippa's small, rotating carriage return lever, but in early 1954 that lever was replaced with a longer, easier-to-use one.
In 1955, an evolved Tippa version named the Gossen Tippa Pilot appeared. In addition to the Gossen Tippa nameplate on the top of the shell, below the right ribbon cover, a chromed metal pilot logo was added below the left ribbon cover. A ribbon/stencil selector was again included. The Pilot model would prove to be the last in Gossen's line of typewriters.
Gossen Tippa Case Options — The Office in a Briefcase
From the beginning, Gossen offered different case options for its Tippas. Initially, the most common was the standard metal lid attaching directly to the machine. The color of that lid typically matched the color of the typewriter itself. Inside the metal lid, while there was no room for storage, metal clips were mounted on both sides of the base to secure writing instruments or cleaning brushes. Gossen also offered an optional, well-made, branded leather briefcase with a compartment that held the typewriter (with its metal lid attached). A second compartment held fresh paper, typed sheets, and other supplies.
The suitcase-style leather case came in several colors, and included a folder attached inside the removable case lid to hold paper and supplies. Branding printed on that folder reads Tippa-Boy, Tippa-B, or Tippa necessaire.
Autumn 1956 — Gossen Sells Tippa License to Adler
It appears that Gossen's typewriter sales peaked in 1954 with about 35,000 units being produced that year. In the Autumn of 1956—following nearly two years of declining typewriter sales—the company apparently decided to re-focus their business on their electrical instruments, and they sold the license for Tippa typewriters to Adler.
Writer and typewriter collector Robert Messenger notes subsequent typewriter manufacturer acqusitions and mergers involving the Tippa:
- 1957 - Grundig absorbs Triumph typewriter brand
- 1966 - Grundig-owned Triumph takes control of Adler
- 1969 - Litton Industries takes over Triumph-Adler
There are several 1957 and 1958 Adler Tippa and Triumph Tippa galleries in the Typewriter Database. [See the TypewriterDatabase.com links in the footnotes.] These typewriters look exactly like the Gossen Tippa B, but have Adler Tippa or Triumph Tippa nameplates below their right ribbon covers rather than Gossen Tippa ones. They have metal lids, and one in the database also has the leather breifcase.
Tippa Typewriters after Gossen: Adler and Triumph
1959 saw the launch of the first Adler-designed-and-manufactured Tippa. (Adler had been manufacturing other typewriter models in Germany for over 60 years.) Their Tippa had a new rounded look, winning design awards in Milan in 1960 and in Germany in 1962. It measured one inch deeper and just over a pound heavier than the original Gossen Tippa. The two-piece shell was plastic. Models, called the Adler Tippa 1 and the Adler Tippa 2 appeared in 1964 and 1966. A boxy-looking model, the Adler Tippa S, was manufactured in Holland by the merged Triumph-Adler and launched in 1967. That model—with production moving to Japan in the early 1970s—was offered into 1976.
Theodore Munk, the mastermind behind the Typewriter Database, notes that—under Royal/Litton—the Tippa S continued in the form of the Royal Caravan and the Royal Sahara. These plastic machines were made in Holland begining in the mid-1970s. The Caravan had tabs; the Sahara did not.
Richard Polt's web page, The Classic Typewriter Page presents Writers and their Typewriters, lists the following writers as users of Tippa models:
- Noel Coward (Gossen Pilot)
- Jack Higgins (Adler Tippa)
- Erich Kästner (Gossen Tippa)
- Stanley Kubrick (Adler Tippa S)
- Joe Orton (Adler Tippa)
Given the ultraportable size, the solid feel, and the quality of the Gossen models, it surprises me that only two Gossen typewriter-using writers are noted.
Meanwhile, more from Gossen...
In the 1970s, I regularly used typewriters. We always had several in the house when I was growing up. Though I have forgotten what brand I used when writing papers for university in the 70s, I do recall that it was a portable with a plastic shell and case. However, I well-remember leasing an IBM Selectric in 1978 and 1979 to produce master copies of catalog pages of scarce books that I had scouted and was offering for sale. I also bought a new Gossen Super Pilot light meter to help me properly expose my film while photographing those books to ilustrate my catalogs. Word Processing on a PC soon followed, but I still have—and use—that Gossen light meter.
Interesting Tippa Examples:
Barlow, David MacGregor. 1952 Gossen Tippa #70061 Gallery at TypewriterDatabase.com. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Barlow shares pictures of his Tippa A Mk. II, which has a Tippa-Boy, leather suitcase-style case rather than the usual metal lid.]
—. 1957 Triumph Tippa B Necessaire #1342751 Gallery at TypewriterDatabase.com. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Barlow shares pictures of his Triumph Tippa B in a metal lid. Triumph branding plates aside, one might suspect that this machine was actually manufactured by Gossen.]
Hill, Mark. 1954 Gossen Tippa B #104504 Gallery at TypewriterDatabase.com. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [A gorgeous, like-new Gossen Tippa B in a Tippa-B branded case.]
Messenger, Robert. The Adler Tippa Pilot Portable Typewriter. Blog post dated 14 May 2012. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [There are no Adler Tippa Pilot galleries in the Typewriter Database, but Robert Messenger shows us his.]
van Gaalen, Laurenz. 1957 Adler Tippa #4157439 Gallery at TypewriterDatabase.com. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [This Adler Tippa was probably made by Gossen. It has a metal lid, the leather breifcase, and apparently came with Gossen-branded instructions.]
Dal Chiele, Paolo. 1949 Gossen Tippa #10815 Gallery at TypewriterDatabase.com. Retrieved 04 Apr 2023. [Dal Chiele discusses the features of Gossen's first Tippas and shares numerous pictures of his Tippa A Mk. I, including side-by-side shots with an Erika 10 and a Tippa B.]
—. 1951 Gossen Tippa #30284 Gallery at TypewriterDatabase.com. Retrieved 04 Apr 2023. [Dal Chiele shares numerous pictures of his Tippa A Mk. II, including wide and detail shots of the machine at various stages of disassembly and repair.]
Davis, Will. Reiseschreibmaschinen 2: The Tippa. An undated web page about the Gossen, Adler, and Triumph Tippas. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [It appears this page was originally illustrated with 16 photos; sadly it now only has placeholders for them.]
GMC Istruments. History of the Gossen Company. Retrieved 05 Apr 2023. [Gossen Company history on the website of the company that owns it as of April 2023. Scroll to bottom of the page and open the History in Detail: 1906 - 1954 tab.]
Messenger, Robert. The Gossen Tippa: The Mighty Mouse of Typewriters. Blog post dated 07 Jan 2012. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [This is the best discussion and comparison of the various Tippa models that we have seen.]
Munk, Theodore. Gossen Tippa Serials Updated!. Blog post dated 26 Dec 2015. Retrieved 05 Apr 2023. [Munk announces refinements to the TWDB Tippa serial number pages, and pointes out that Adler simply continued their numbering from where Gossen stopped.]
Polt, Richard. The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist's Companion for the 21st Century. Woodstock, VT: The Countryman Press . Page 106, including a photo of a Gossen Tippa Pilot.
—. The Classic Typewriter Page presents Writers and their Typewriters. Retrieved 04 Apr 2023. [Enumerates nearly 600 authors, and lists the typewriter model(s) each was known to use. Often includes links to images of the writers with their machines.]
—. Gossen Tippa brochure. Blog post dated 13 May 2013. Retrieved 07 Apr 2023. [Polt shares images of a Gossen Tippa promotional brochure.]
TypewriterDatabase[dot]com. Adler Typewriter Serial Numbers. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023.
—. Adler Tippa Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Adler Tippa 1 Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Adler Tippa S Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Gossen Typewriter Serial Numbers. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023.
—. Gossen Tippa Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Gossen Tippa B Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Gossen Pilot Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Royal Caravan Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 05 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Royal Sahara Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 05 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Triumph Typewriter Serial Numbers. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023.
—. Triumph Tippa Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Triumph Tippa 1 Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
—. Triumph Tippa S Typewriters by Year then Serial Number. Retrieved 03 Apr 2023. [Photo-illustrated galleries of typewriters of this model]
Gossen Tippa / Hermes Baby
Gossen Tippa / Hermes Baby
Gossen Tippa / Hermes Baby
The number stamped on the right end of Gossen Tippa carriage rails is NOT the machine's serial number.
The serial number on early Gossen Tippas is stamped on the inside bottom of the machine, below the right ribbon spool.
The serial number on later Gossen Tippas, Gossen Tippa Bs, and Gossen Tippa Pilots is lettered on the right inside bottom of the machine, just below the carriage rail.
Gossen Tippa, with metal lid and leather breifcase
Gossen Tippa in lid and leather breifcase
Fun Fact: The Gossen Super Pilot light meter's "pilot" logo is the same design as that of the Gossen Tippa Pilot typewriter!