First UK Rocket Mails - Brighton & Scotland
In May 1934 Zucker exhibited some of his rocket covers at the London Air Post Exhibition. Photographer Robert Hartman agreed to become his publicity helper and C H Dombrowski, a philatelist and stamp dealer, added his backing for the production Zucker's UK test rockets. The men hoped to earn thousands of pounds promoting the sale of the resulting rocket post covers.
On June 6th 1934 Zucker, Hartman and Dombrowski were met by a journalist and photographer from the Daily Express together with the editor of a philatelic magazine on the Sussex Downs near Brighton, Sussex. This report was published about the Brighton test in the magazine Modern Mechanix November 1934 edition:
While Modern Mechanix reported that 1200 covers were carried undamaged for nearly two miles before being posted normally for onward delivery, other reports suggest the test flights on the Sussex Downs were made with no cargo and the longest flight actually ended by crashing in to the sea!
Following the tests on the Sussex Downs Zucker reportedly claimed that he would inaugrate regular one minute rocket post services between Dover and Calais in France although nothing became of this plan.
Eventually domonstration rocket tests for the General Post Office were launched on 28 and 31 July 1934 between the Hebridean islands of Harris and Scarp in Scotland. Measuring nearly four feet the rockets were loaded with up to 1,200 envelopes. Both rockets exploded on launch although most of the second rocket's cargo was salvaged albeit many examples displayed burn marks.
In recent years the BBC Open University programme "Coast" recreated the Harris to Scarp experiment and proved Zucker's rocket design could have carried post across the water between the Scottish islands and concluded it was likely to have been unsuitable fuel powder that caused both failures back in 1934.
While there are widespread claims about the possible fraudulaent nature surrounding many of Zucker's rocket mail covers they are today a very collectable item. You can check our online auction pages to see any rocket mail items currently on offer.
Reports say that Zucker was later deported from the UK as tensions and suspicions heightened in the lead up to World War 2. Zucker went on to serve in the Luftwaffe during WW2 and maintained his interest in rocketry after the war living in West Germany until 1964 when a fatal accident precipitated a federal ban on private rocket flights. Zucker passed away in 1985.
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