US 3620444 A
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United States Patent 655554 333333 Ill/ll 222222 333333 222222 613,275 11/1898 Hintze.......................... 1,248,171 11/1917 Schubert.. 1,264,700 4/1918 Smith.......... 2,438,785 3/1948 McKallick 2,444,679 7/1948 Shaukis........................ 2,801,046 7/1957 Primary Examiner- Francis K. Zugel 72] Inventor Harold E. Crozier 2522 Wrlghtsboro Road, Augusta, Ga. 30904 [21 1 Appl. No. 69,778
 Filed Sept. 4,1970
 Patented Nov. 16, 1971  AUTOMATIC MAILBOX INDICATOR Al!0rney- Herman, Davidson and Berman 10 Claims, 6 Drawing Figs.
ABSTRACT: A mailbox having a hinged lid with a letter slot.
232/35, 34, A weighted toothed wheel has a lug engageable by a letter in- 17, 19 serted in the slot. The weighted wheel is rotated past dead center and its teeth elevate a rack bar with an indicator at its top, which is thus moved upwardly into view. An arm carried  Int Cl  FieldofSearch...................................
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 6/1892 Smith by the lid returns the wheel to normal position and lowers the indicator when the lid is opened.
AUTOMATIC MAILBOX INDICATOR This invention relates to mailboxes and more particularly to a mailbox of the type having an indicator which is moved into a visible position when a letter, post card or the like is inserted in the mailbox.
A main object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved mailbox provided with an indicator, the mailbox being relatively simple in construction, being attractive in appearance, and being especially suitable as a repository for mail addressed to particular individuals, for example, children in the home, or for persons to whom individual distribution of mail is of importance.
A further object of the invention is to provide an improved mailbox which is neat in appearance, which is compact in size, and which provides a positive indication that mail has been inserted into the box, whereby the owner of the box will have a positive indication of the delivery of such mail and will be reminded to collect same.
A still further object of the invention is to provide an improved mailbox having an indicator which is moved into visible position responsive to the insertion of a piece of mail into the box, the box being easy to install, having relatively few moving parts, being capable of being constructed in a wide variety of decorative designs, and being especially suitable for use as individual mail repositories for children to inform them that they have received mail, such as invitations or announcements of special interest to them, and thereby to avoid over looking or misplacing such mail.
A still further object of the invention is to provide an improved mailbox having an automatic indicator which is moved into a visible position when a letter or other mail article is inserted into the box and which is automatically returned to its normal nonindicating position when the lid of the mailbox is opened, the mailbox being especially suitable as an auxiliary mail receptacle for individuals in the home, whereby such individuals will be able to receive mail personally directed to them, and wherein in the case of children, a sense of importance and feeling of privacy with respect to their mail are provided.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description and claims, and from the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. I is a perspective view of an improved indicating mailbo'x constructed in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged transverse cross-sectional view taken substantially on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary vertical cross-sectional view taken substantially on the line 33 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a somewhat enlarged horizontal cross-sectional view taken substantially on the line 4-4 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary vertical cross-sectional view of the upper portion of the mailbox, similar to FIG. 2, but showing the indicator raised to its visible indicating position.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged elevational view of the weighted toothed wheel employed in the mailbox ofFIGS. l to 5.
Referring to the drawings, 11 generally designates a typical indicating mailbox constructed in accordance with the present invention. The mailbox 11 comprises a housing 12 having the vertical rear wall 13, the horizontal bottom wall 14, the upwardly and forwardly sloping front wall 15, the sidewalls l6, and a downwardly forwardly sloping top wall element 17 to which is hinged a downwardly and forwardly sloping lid 18, the hinge structure being generally shown at 19. Thus, as shown in FIG. 3, the lid 18 normally rests against the top edge of the upwardly and forwardly sloping front wall section 15. The lid I8 is provided with a horizontal slot 20 extending for the major portion of its length and located subjacent the hinge structure 19.
Depending from the forward portion of the top wall section 17 substantially centrally thereof are a pair of supporting lugs 21 and 22 between which is joumaled a wheel 23 carrying a weight 24. The pivotal axis of the wheel is shown at 25. The wheel is provided with a lug 26 which is normally subjacent to an inwardly projecting rib 27 provided at the bottom margin of the slot 20, the weight 24 acting to bias the wheel in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 2, to cause lug 26 to be normally located beneath rib 27, the lug 26 being disposed in a position to be engaged by a letter, card or other piece of mail inserted into the slot 20. Opposite the lug 26 the wheel is provided with a plurality of spaced gear teeth 30.
The gear teeth 30 are in meshing engagement with the teeth 31 of a vertical rack bar 32 located adjacent rear wall 13. Rack bar 32 is provided with marginal flanges 33,33 which are retained by respective vertical flanged brackets 34 and 35 secured to rear wall 13 and defining a vertical guideway constraining bar 32 to move "vertically. The brackets 34 and 35 may be formed integrally with the sidewalls of a housing 36 secured to the upper portion of rear wall 13 substantially below the midportion of the top wall segment 17, the housing having an outwardly curved front wall 37 which is provided with a vertical slot 38 through which the forward portion of the toothed wheel 23 projects.
The top wall segment 17 is formed at its intermediate portion with an upwardly extending channel 39 receiving the top end of the rack bar 32, said top end defining an indicator 40 which may be elevated into view above the top end of channel 39 when the toothed wheel 23 is rotated clockwise from the position thereof shown in FIG. 2. A forwardly facing decorative top frame 41 is secured to the top marginal portion or rear wall 13 to serve as a decorative frame for the indicator element 40 when it is elevated into visible position, with the top wall segment 17 serving as a stop means to limit the upward movement of the rack bar 32.
To facilitate the sliding movement of the rack bar, said rack bar is provided with a pair of rearwardly projecting bearing lugs 42, 42 which are preferably rounded and which slidably engage against rear wall 13. Thus, the projections 42,42 serve to greatly reduce the friction between rack bar 32 and rear wall 13 and to facilitate sliding movement upwardly or downwardly of the rack bar relative to said rear wall. The bottom portion of the housing 36, shown at 44, serves as a stop means for limiting the downward movement of the rack bar 32 and for supporting the rack bar in its normal lowest position, shown in FIG. 2.
As above mentioned, when a letter, such as the letter 45 shown in dotted view in FIG. 5, is inserted through the slot 20, it engages the lug 26 and rotates the toothed wheel 23 in a clockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 2, moving the weight 24 forwardly past its dead center position, and thus causing the rack bar 32 to be elevated into engagement with top wall segment l7 and to be retained in elevated position with the top end of the rack bar 32 in abutment with the top wall segment 17, as shown in FIG. 5. The wheel 23 is rotatable clockwise sufiiciently to allow the letter 45 to slip past the lug 26 and to drop into the mailbox. The indicator 40 will remain in its elevated visible position in the frame 41 by the action of the weight 24 which retains wheel 23 in the position thereof shown in FIG. 5.
Rigidly secured to the lid 18 is a hinge sleeve 47 which is integrally formed with a rearwardly projecting arm 48 normally disposed beneath or substantially parallel to the top wall segment 17, as shown in FIG. 2. A laterally projecting pin 50 is secured on the wheel 23 in the path of movement of arm 48 when the lid 18 is rotated in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 2. Thus, when lid 18 is elevated to the dotted view position thereof shown in FIG. 5, the arm 48 engages the pin 50 and rotates wheel 23 counterclockwise past its dead center position, lowering the rack bar 32 and returning the parts to the positions thereof shown in FIG. 2. Therefore, when the lid 18 is opened to remove mail from the box, the indicator element 40 is returned to its normal covered position in the channel 39.
From the above description, it will be apparent that the in-' dicator element 40 is raised into vertical position responsive to the insertion of mail through the slot 20, and that the indicator is automatically returned to nonindicating lowered position when the lid 18 is opened for the removal of the mail accumulated in the box.
As above mentioned, the mailbox is especially suitable for use as an auxiliary depository, for example, for a depository for children in the home so that the personal mail addressed to the children can be individually deposited for collection subsequently by the child to whom it is addressed. This avoids the possibility of overlooking or misplacing personal mail such as invitations or other similar mail articles, and the provision of such a special mail box for a child gives a child a sense of importance and a feeling of privacy with respect to his mail.
Thus, it will be apparent that the above-described indicating mailbox has special advantages for use as an auxiliary mailbox in the home, and it can. be designed artistically to conform with furniture or other articles in a child's room or in any other desirable portion of the dwelling in which it is employed.
While a specific embodiment of an improved indicating mailbox has been disclosed in the foregoing description, it will be understood that various modifications within the spirit of the invention may occur to those skilled in the art. Therefore, it is intended that no limitations be placed on the invention except as defined by the scope of the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
l. A mailbox having a hinged lid provided with a letter slot, a toothed member journaled in said mailbox and having a lug extending subjacent to said letter slot when the toothed member is in normal position, weight means on the toothed member biasing it toward said normal position, vertical guide member, an indicator at the top end of said rack bar and being elevated into an exposed position responsive to elevation of said rack bar by said toothed member when the toothed member is rotated past dead center by a letter inserted through the slot and engaged with said lug, and means to return said toothed member to said normal position responmeans in the mailbox, a rack bar slidably engaged with said vertical guide means and meshingly engaged with said toothed sive to opening said lid, whereby to lower said indicator.
2. The mailbox of claim 1, and wherein said lug is spaced beneath said lid when the toothed member is in said normal position.
3. The mailbox of claim 2, and top channel means on the mailbox receiving said indicator, said indicator being movable upwardly past said top channel means when said toothed member is rotated by the letter inserted in said slot.
4. The mailbox of claim 3, and wherein the means to return said toothed member to its normal position comprises an arm on the lid and projection means on the toothed member engageable' by said arm when the lid is opened.
5. The mailbox of claim 4, and wherein said projection means comprises a pin secured on said toothed member.
6. The mailbox of claim 5, and wherein said toothed member comprises a wheel having a plurality of spaced teeth on one portion of its periphery, said lug projecting from an opposite portion of its periphery.
7. The mailbox of claim 6, and wherein said lid has an inwardly projecting abutment rib at a margin of said slot, said lug being subjacent said rib when the wheel is in its normal position.
8. The mailbox of claim 7, and wherein said box has a vertical rear wall, said vertical guide means being on said rear wall, said rack bar having spaced bearing projections slidably engaging said rear wall.
9. The mailbox of claim 8, and housing means secured on the mailbox and substantially enclosing said vertical guide means and said wheel.
10. The mailbox of claim 9, and frame means on the mailbox above said top channel means adapted to receive said indicator when it is elevated to said exposed position.