US 20040232155 A1
The present invention provides a combination plate and glass holder (10) having a holding means (12) by which a user may hold the combination plate and glass holder (10); a gripping means (14) for gripping an edge of a plate (20); and a receptacle (24) for receiving a glass (26) or the like. The receptacle (26) has a base (40) such that a wide range of glasses (26) may be supported when held within the receptacle (24).
1. A combination plate and glass holder of moulded plastic construction and including:
a generally flat support surface on which the underside of a plate can be supported,
a gripping formation located alongside the support surface for locating over and gripping an edge of a plate supported on the support surface,
a plurality of upstanding formations on the support surface, at different distances from the gripping formation, for engaging downwardly projecting ridges on the undersides of different plates to restrict slippage,
a receptacle attached to and located to one side of the support surface for receiving glass, the receptacle having a circular base on which any of a wide range of different glasses received by the receptacle can be supported, and
a holding means at which a user may hold the combination plate and glass holder with one hand, the holding means being located between the support surface and the receptacle.
2. A combination plate and glass holder according to
3. A combination plate and glass holder according to
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 THIS invention relates to a combination plate and glass holder.
 It is a common occurrence at cocktail parties that guests need to hold a drink in one hand and a plate of food in the other. This leads to the inconvenient situation that neither the food can be eaten nor other guests greeted, as both hands are occupied. It would thus be desirable to free one hand from either holding the drink or holding the plate while still having both these items at hand.
 A possible solution to the problem has been proposed in the form of a C-shaped receptacle that may be clipped onto a plate. This arrangement is however only suitable for stemmed glasses which can slide into and out of the receptacle. A glass having a cylindrical shape, typically a whiskey-glass, will thus not fit into this C-shaped receptacle.
 It is an object of this invention to address this problem.
 According to the present invention there is provided a combination plate and glass holder including a holding means by which a user may hold the combination plate and glass holder; a gripping means for gripping an edge of a plate; and a receptacle for receiving a glass or the like, the receptacle having a base such that a wide range of glasses may be supported on the base and held within the receptacle.
 According to another aspect of the invention a series of concentric ridges are formed on the base of the receptacle to accommodate the bases of a range of glasses of different sizes.
 The holding means is operatively located such that the weight of the plate and the weight of the glass are at least partially balanced when held by the user.
 The combination plate and glass holder is preferably formed by moulding a polymer.
 The combination plate and glass holder may also be produced by forming the receptacle, holding means and gripping means as separate components after which they can be connected to form the combination plate and glass holder.
 The combination plate and glass holder may include a disc that is locatable around the stem of a stemmed glass such that when the disc is located around the stem of a stemmed glass that is located in the receptacle, movement of the glass in the receptacle is restricted by the disc.
 The invention will now be described in more detail, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a combination plate and glass holder according to a first embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 shows a cross-section at the line 2-2 in FIG. 1 as well as a glass and a plate located within the plate and glass holder;
FIG. 3 shows a top view of the plate and glass holder also holding a plate and a glass respectively according to the first embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 4 shows a sectional view of a second embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a third embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 6 shows a side view of the third embodiment of the invention holding a plate and a glass;
FIG. 7 shows a front view of the third embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 8 shows a top view of the third embodiment of the invention and a means for locating a stemmed glass therein; and
FIG. 9 shows an exploded view of the third embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a plate and glass holder 10 according to the invention having a holding means 12 by which a user may hold the combination plate and glass holder 10.
 A plate-gripping means 14 is located above the holding means. It is formed by a fulcrum member 16 and a gripping member 18. FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate the operation of the plate-holding means 14. In these figures an edge region of a plate 20 is shown gripped by the gripping member 18 and the fulcrum member 16. The weight of the plate 20 creates a moment which causes the plate to pivot on the fulcrum member 16. In reaction to this moment, the extremity of the plate is biased upwardly against the underside 22 of the gripping member 18, thereby securing the plate 20.
 A receptacle 24 is operatively connected to the holding means 12 and plate gripping means 14 such that, when a glass 26 is received in the receptacle, the weight of the gripped plate 20 and its contents is at least partially balanced by the weight of the glass and its contents. The receptacle 24 has a base 28 on which a range of glasses, including stemless glasses such as the illustrated tumbler 26, can be supported.
FIG. 4 depicts another embodiment of the current invention where on the base 40 of the receptacle 36 ridges 38 and 30 are formed. These ridges are in the shape of concentric circles around the centre of the base 40. Each ridge has a constant height as measured from the base 40. However, as can be seen from FIG. 4, the height of the ridges increases with distance from the centre of the base 40. In this case the height of ridge 30 is greater than the height of the ridge 38.
 A glass, such as the illustrated stemmed sherry glass 32, having a base with a diameter less than the diameter of the circle formed by the ridge 38 can be placed on the base 40 and will be prevented from sliding around by ridge 38. Should the diameter of the base of the glass be greater than the circle formed by both the ridge 38 and the ridge 30 it can be placed so as to rest on the outer ridge 30, as exemplified by the tumbler 34. A glass having a base of intermediate diameter can rest on the inner ridge 38 and be restrained by the outer ridge.
FIG. 3 illustrates one example of how the holder of the invention may be held manually by one hand. The thumb rests on the upper surface of the gripping member 18, the index and middle fingers are inserted into the hollow of the holding means 12 and the ring finger and little finger locate beneath the plate. With this type of grip there is a fairly good balance between the weight of the plate and the weight of the glass, but it will be understood that the actual degree of balance will also be heavily dependent on things such as the design and weight of the plate and glass as well as the weight of the contents of the plate and glass. Of course, the holding means can be held manually in various different ways, at the discretion of the user, to achieve the best possible balance or degree of comfort.
 It will be appreciated that the combination holder of the invention has the advantage that it allows the user to support both a plate and glass with one hand and in a reasonably comfortable manner.
 This embodiment of the invention can be manufactured by moulding a thermoplastic polymer into the illustrated configuration. A wide range of other materials could also be used to manufacture holders according to the invention. The holder could, for instance, be of fabricated metal construction.
 It will be noted that the holding means includes a flat surface 42 and that this surface is clearly exposed when the holder is in use. It is envisaged that advertising stickers or the like could be applied to this surface, so that the holder of the invention serves both a practical and promotional function.
FIG. 5 depicts a third embodiment of a combination plate and glass holder 110 according to the invention. The holder 110 has a base 112 which comprises a receptacle portion 114 and a fulcrum portion 116 which are integrally formed. The portions are substantially round in shape with the diameter of the receptacle portion 114 being slightly smaller than the diameter of the fulcrum portion 116.
 A receptacle 118 is attached to the receptacle portion 114 of the base 112. The receptacle 118 is cylindrically shaped and has a base on which a wide range of glass shapes and designs may be placed.
 Another aspect of the receptacle 118 is that it has two slots 120 in its side wall which tend to assist the user in removing certain types of glasses from the receptacle. This aspect can be described by way of an example in which a whiskey glass 126, illustrated in broken lines on FIG. 6, is located in the receptacle 118. It can be appreciated that should the receptacle 118 have a solid side wall, i.e. without the slots 120, and the height of the whiskey glass be substantially the same as that of the receptacle 118, the user may incur some difficulty in removing the glass therefrom.
 This problem is however addressed by the slots 120. The user may now engage the glass with his fingers via the slots 120 and slide the glass with relative ease from the receptacle 118.
 A plate-gripping member 122 is attached to the receptacle 118. The operating principle of the plate-gripping member 122 is the same as that of the previously described embodiments. FIG. 6 shows an edge portion of a plate 124 gripped by the plate-gripping member 122 and the base 112. The weight of the plate 124 creates a moment which causes it to pivot on the base 112. In reaction to this moment the edge portion is biased in an upward direction against the underside of the plate gripping member 122 thereby holding the plate in a gripped position.
 It can be noted that the plate-gripping member 122 is operatively connected to the receptacle 118 such that the weight of the glass 126 and its contents at least partially balances the weight of the plate 124 and its contents.
FIG. 5 shows ribs 128 attached to the fulcrum portion 116 of the base 112. FIG. 6 shows the plate 124 having an edge 130 located between the ribs 128. The function of the ribs 128 is to restrict movement of the plate 124 on the base 112. It will be understood that for the holder 110 to operate effectively the edge portion of the plate 124 has to be gripped by the plate-gripping member 122. To ensure grip the edge portion has to remain biased in an upward direction against the underside of the plate-gripping member 122. The ribs 128 restrict slippage of the plate 124 on the base 112 thereby ensuring that the edge portion remains biased against the plate-gripping member and holding the plate in a gripped position.
 It is envisaged that the distance between the ribs 128 will be sized to accommodate a wide range of plates. This will allow some movement of the plate edge 130 between the ribs 128. The movement will however be limited and the edge portion of the plate 124 will remain biased against the plate-gripping member 122.
 A further aspect of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 8 in which a stemmed sherry glass 132 is to be placed in the receptacle 118. From the description above it is clear that the receptacle is sized to accommodate a wide range of glass sizes and designs. It will be understood that having a relatively small glass located in the receptacle 118, in this instance the sherry glass 132, the glass will be prone to some movement in the receptacle. This movement can lead to spillage of the glass' contents.
 To restrict this movement a disc 134 is provided having a cavity 136 in the centre thereof to receive the stem of a stemmed glass. A slit 138 extends radialy from the cavity 136 towards the periphery of the disc 134.
 The disc 134 is located around the stem of the sherry glass 132 by moving the stem 140 of the glass along the slit 138 until it is located in the cavity 136. It will be noted that when the glass 132 with the disc 136 around its stem 140 is placed in the cavity 118, movement of the glass 132 relative to the base 112 is substantially restricted.
 One example of how the plate holder 110 could be held by the user is by locating the thumb of one hand on top of the base 112 in the region 158 indicated on FIG. 6. The user's other fingers are then located at the bottom of the base 112. With this grip there is a fairly good balance between the weight of the plate and the weight of the glass, but it will be understood that the actual degree of balance will also heavily depend on things such as the design and weight of the plate and glass as well as the contents of the plate and cup. The base 112 can be held in various different ways, at the discretion of the user, to achieve the best possible balance or degree of comfort.
FIG. 9 shows an exploded view of the plate holder 110 having the base 112, the receptacle 118 and the plate-gripping member 122 as separate components.
 Turning firstly to the attachment of the receptacle 118 to the base 112 it will be noted that the receptacle portion 114 of the base 112 includes a cavity 142 for receiving the receptacle 118. Attached to the base 112 and within the cavity 142 are two connector plugs 144, having stems 146 and heads 148, which can be received by two keyholes 150 located at the base 152 of the receptacle 118.
 The receptacle 118 is attached to the base 112 by firstly locating the heads 148 of the plugs 144 through the large cavities 154 of the keyholes 150 when the base 152 of the receptacle are placed on the base 112. Hereafter the receptacle 118 is rotated in a clockwise direction until the stems 146 are located in the small cavities 156 of the keyholes 150 and the heads 148 of the connector plugs 144 restrict the receptacle 118 being removed from the base 112.
 It should be noted that the heads 148 are located in recesses 156 at the base 152 of the receptacle 118 when the base 112 is attached to the receptacle 118. It will be understood that should the plugs 144 extend from the base 152 upwardly into the receptacle 118, they could cause a glass to stand unbalanced in the receptacle 118 and therefore spill its contents. The recesses 156 ensure that the base 152 has a flat horizontal plane free from protruding plugs.
 The plate-gripping member 122 is attached to the receptacle 118 using plugs and keyholes in a manner similar to that described above for the attachment of the base 112 and receptacle 118. It will be noted that the keyholes' larger cavities are located below the smaller cavities. It will be understood that the plugs 144 of the plate-gripping member 122 may be located in a locked position by moving it in an upward position such that the necks of the plugs are located in the smaller cavities of the keyholes. It will also be understood that the plugs of the plate-gripping member 122 will be held in a locked position when a plate is gripped. This is effected by the moment that is exerted by the plate being gripped, forcing the plate-gripping member 122 in an upward direction.
 It is envisaged that the base 112, the receptacle 118 and the plate-gripping member 122 can be permanently attached to each other after assembly by glue or other types of adhesives.
 The base 112, receptacle 118 and the plate-gripping member 122 of the embodiment can be formed by moulding a thermoplastic polymer into the illustrated components for assembly of the holder 110. A wide range of material may however be used to manufacture the components. It would be appreciated that the plate holder 118 could also be moulded as a unit.
 The disc in this embodiment was made from cardboard but a wide range of materials may be employed, typically thermoplastic polymers.
 It will be appreciated that a relatively small plate may be placed on the base 112 and which does not extend over the periphery of the base 112. In this instance no moment will be created by the weight of the plate whereby it can pivot such that an end portion of the plate may abut the underside of the gripping member 122. In this case, the plate will be gripped in a loose fashion by the gripping member 122 as opposed to the abutting grip described above. It will therefore be understood that the use of the term gripped as used in the specification should be seen in a wide sense and not be limited to a tight hold.
 It should be clear that the advantage in having a receptacle with a base as illustrated in the various embodiments is that a wide range of glasses of different size and design can be accommodated within the receptacle.