US 3686783 A
An easel back for supporting a photo frame in which the structure includes a backing member of hollow, open construction having a triangular supporting member hinged to an inner lateral edge and a triangular bracing member hinged to the supporting member with the members being folded at the hinges and locked to form a rigid supporting leg of tetrahedron shape. The same supporting tetrahedron serves as a leg to stand the frame for either horizontal or vertical viewing. The parts are preferably molded as a single, integral unit employing plastic having a high degree of flexibility and with scorelines molded of reduced thickness for facilitating relative bending.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Levy Aug. 29, 1972  FRAME AND EASEL BACK ASSEMBLY Prima Examiner-Robert W. Michell M. Le h 111. W  Inventor Leon C wage Assistant Examiner-Wenceslao J. Contreras  Assignee: Condecor, Inc., Mundelein, Ill. Att 0mey--W0lfe, Hubbard, Leydig, Voit & Osann  Filed: March 12, 1971  ABSTRACT  Appl 123600 An easel back for supporting a photo frame in which the structure includes a backing member of hollow,  U.S. Cl ..40/152.1 p n construction having a triangular supporting  Int. Cl ..G09t l/12 member hinged to an inner lateral edge and a s-  Field of Search ...40/120, 124.1, 152.1; 248/463 lar bracing member hinged to the Supporting member with the members being folded at the hinges and  References Cited locked to form a rigid supporting leg of tetrahedron shape. The same supporting tetrahedron serves as a UNITED STATES PATENTS leg to stand the frame for either horizontal or vertical viewing. The parts are preferably molded as a single, l integral unit employing plastic having a high degree of l 12 1967 K 124 1 flexibility and with scorelmes molded of reduced etterer l thickness for facilitating relative bending. 3,529,371 9/1970 Mooere ..40/l20 3,540,146 11/1970 Watkins ..40/ 124.1 7 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures PATENTED M1929 m2 INVENTOR Leon: N. Lsvv ALZLMI V'w m. 5| E7 Afrvs,
'7////' /////////,l////////////. 7//////////////////////.//////////////A M FRAME AND EASEL BACK ASSEMBLY The production and sale of easel backs insertable in a frame for display of photographs or the like is a highly competitive business and the need has existed for a long time for a high quality easel back, particularly in the larger sizes, which is of sturdy construction made up of a number of relatively foldable parts easily set up by the user but produced in a single, low cost manufacturing step.
It is accordingly, an object of the present invention to provide easel back meeting these requirements, which is particularly applicable to the more costly, larger sizes of frames, and which avoids the cheap appearance of conventional backs which have been stamped out of cardboard stock, but which may nevertheless be produced at comparable cost. It is another object to provide an easel back which has a long useful life and which may be repeatedly set up and collapsed without deterioration of the hinge encountered in cardboard construction.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the attached detailed description of the above reference to the drawing in which:
FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a photo frame and easel back constructed in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a rear face view of the easel back.
F IG. 3 is a right hand side view.
FIG. 4 is a left hand side view.
FIG. 5 is a section taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 3.
FIG. 6 is 'a fragmentary enlarged section showing the locking tab and taken along the line 6-6 in FIG. 3.
FIG. 7 shows the easel back in its original molded condition and as the supporting structure is flattened for transport.
FIG. 7a is a fragmentary section looking along the line 7a--7a in FIG. 7.
FIG. 8 shows a modified profile of locking tab.
While the invention has been described in connection with a preferred embodiment it will be understood that I do not intend to be limited to the particular embodiment shown but intend, on the contrary, to cover the various alternative and equivalent constructions included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.
Turning to FIG. 1 there is shown an easel back 10 fitted into a frame 11, the frame per se being conventional and made up of a channel of thin metal mitered at positions 12, 13 and bent into rectangular shape, being open at the bottom 14. As shown in FIG. 5, the width of the opposed groove as defined by the channel cross section is occupied by a stack or sandwich which consists of a glass outer layer 15, the photograph or the like 16, and a stifi filler sheet 17 which may be a sheet of conventional cardboard, all cut to a size to fit the frame. It will be apparent that the opposed channels forming the sides of the frame present inwardly facing grooves into which the back 10 slides, from below, with tongue-and-groove engagement.
In accordance with the present invention the easel back 10 is of hollow, or open, construction having a central opening 20, outer lateral edges 21-24 and inner lateral edges, parallel thereto, indicated at 25-28, with ease] supporting structure being integrally hinged to an inner lateral edge. More specifically in accordance with the invention, a triangular supporting member is integrally hinged to the inner edge of the backing member and a triangular bracing member is integrally hinged to the supporting member to form a supporting tetrahedron, with means for locking the supporting member and bracing members together in sharply angled relation and with one edge of the bracing member engaging the filler sheet to hold the supporting tetrahedron in outwardly projecting position. Thus, turning to the drawing, the supporting member, indicated at 30, has a first edge 31, a second edge 32 and a third edge 33. The junction of the edges 32,33 serves to provide a point of outboard support 34. The first edge 31 of the triangle 30 is integral with the backing member 10 and is defined by an integrally formed scoreline of reduced thickness to facilitate bending.
Integrally connected to the supporting member 30 is a bracing member 40 having a first edge 41, a second edge 42 and a third edge 43. The edge 41, shared by the connected members, is, as shown in FIG. 7a also an integrally formed scoreline for localized bending. The triangular members 30,40 are preferably formed so that their longest sides, 32,41, respectively, are joined together and coextensive.
Further in accordance with the invention, an integral tab hinged to one of the members 30,40 isnotched to engage an edge on the other member for holding the two members in sharply bent relation. Thus, referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, the members 30,40 have a jointly shared opening 50 which spans the hinge 41 which interconnects them and which opening is occupied by a locking tab 51 which is hinged, at 52, to the member 40 along a line which is generally perpendicular to the hinge 41. The locking tab 51 has a notch 53 formed therein which engages the edge 54 of the opening when the members 30,40 are sharply angled with respect to one another.
The structure described above is preferably molded as a single unit, with all openings and scorelines, of a flexible plastic such as polyethylene. All the parts are molded in the flattened non-set up condition shown in FIG. 7, both when new or when intentionally collapsed for transport.
To use the easel feature, the supporting member 30 is swung outwardly, approximately at right angles to the backing member about the hinge 31, and the bracing member 40 is swung about the hinge 41 until it occupies an acute angle with respect to the member 30. When the edge 54 lies in the plane of the notch 53 on the tab 51, the tab is rocked about :its hinge 52 until the notch is in looking engagement. Preferably the tab is slightly oversize" as compared to the edge which it engages, as measured along the diagonal d (FIG. 6) so that the notch crowds against, and frictionally engages, the edge. The members 30,40 thus become locked together in desired position to define a supporting tetrahedron, the point 34 of which engages the supporting surface.
For the purpose of holding the tetrahedron structure in extended or outboard position, the second edge 42 of the member 40 is oriented in edgewise engagement with the stiff filler sheet 17 which occupies the opening 20 of the backing member. The hinge 31, being formed of resilient plastic, has sufficient memory so that it tends to swing the supporting member 30 into the plane of the backing, thereby maintaining the edge 42 in bottoming engagement with member 17. Setup takes but an instant and is sufficiently straightforward so that it may be carried out by either an adult or a child without necessity for any assembling instructions.
The present construction is ideal for photo frames of large size intended for portable usage and requiring repeated bending at the hinge lines. Using a flexible plastic such as polyethylene, the structure may undergo many hundreds or even thousands of bending cycles without noticable deterioration; thus the construction is to distinguished from easels formed of cardboard sheet stock punched and scored in conventional design. An easel back of the present construction, integrally molded in plastic, not only is more durable than its cardboard counterpart but gives the impression of quality and durability, avoiding the cheap appearance associated with the use of cardboard, even though the cost of manufacture does not, in quantity production, exceed the cost of the cardboard which it replaces.
It is one of the features of the present construction that the point of easeled support 34 is spaced inwardly about the same amount from the adjacent outer lateral edges, permitting a photograph in the frame to be viewed either vertically, as shown in FIG. 1, or horizontally. Thus when the frame is vertical and supported along the bottom edge 14,24, the region 34 of the supporting member bears edgewise against the supporting surface when the frame is turned wo that outer edge 21 is lowermost, the region 34 still acts as a point of outboard support, but in a flatwise orientation.
While the invention is directed particularly to easel support, it may be noted, for the sake of completness, that toothed hangers 61,62 may be integrally molded in peripheral position along the respective centerlines of the backing to facilitate wall mounting, thus to make the device of increased versatility.
With the above teachings in mind it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that changes may be made in the easel supporting structure without departing from the invention. Thus the two triangular members 30,40 may be altered in size or shape without afiecting the supporting function. While the two triangular members are, in the present embodiment, coextensive along their longer dimension at hinge 41, the bracing member 40, it may be noted, need not extend all the way to the corner 34, and may be cut off short of that point to form a truncated triangle or trapezoid. The
member 30 may be similarly truncated. Thus the term triangular as used herein includes within its scope truncated triangles and the term tetrahedron includes within its scope truncated tetrahedrons.
The present easel back is of maximum open construction, having a large central opening 20 bounded by a narrow peripheral frame, both for the sake of appearance and to economize on plastic. It will be noted, however, that the distance d1 between the outer lateral edge 21 and the inner lateral edge 25 exceeds the amount of overlap d2 of the frame, causing the hinge 31 to be inset inwardly by an adequate amount so that there is no interference to slidable insertion of the backing into the opposed grooves defined by the frame. If desired, the window opening 20 may be filled in, with the backing material being brought closely adjacent the edges 42, 43 of the bracing member without in any way departing from the present invention.
The locking tab 51 is shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 of simple shape to illustrate the invention. However it is preferred to use the slightly more sophisticated profile set forth in FIG. 8 in which corresponding parts are indicated by corresponding reference numerals with addition of subscript a, one difference in the two constructions being that a notch is provided in the edge 54a and the cooperating notch 53a in the tab is of different shape; functionally the constructions are the same.
While the notch 53, shown in FIG. 6, locks the members 30, 40 against angular relative motion in either one direction or the other, it is the locking against movement in a direction to straighten, or unfold, which is the significant thing, and hence the term locking as used herein shall denote retention at least in the unfolding direction. Similarly the term notch denotes an effective stop surface in at least one direction. The term stiff as applied to the filler member 17 has to do with the fact that the member serves as a solid base for the edge 42 of the supporting structure.
What I claim is 1. An easel back for supporting a photo frame having a stiff filler sheet comprising, in combination, a rectangular backing member of hollow construction having inner and outer lateral edges, a triangular supporting member having first, second and third edges, the first edge of the supporting member having a hinged connection with an inner lateral edge of the backing member, a triangular bracing member having first, second and third edges, the first edge of the bracing member having a hinged connection with the second edge of the supporting member, the hinge connections permitting the triangular members to be sharply angled into tetrahedron shape with the projecting point of the tetrahedron defining a point of easel support behind the backing member and which is spaced inwardly from an outer lateral edge thereon, the second edge of the bracing member being formed to abut the filler sheet with the frame in easeled position, and means on the supporting and bracing members for locking them rigidly angled with respect to one another.
2. The combination as claimed in claim 1 in which the supporting member and bracing member are provided with a hinged tab and tab receiver for locking the members rigidly together.
3. The combination as claimed in claim 2 in which the supporting member and bracing member have a jointly shared opening formed therein which spans the hinge which interconnects them and which opening is occupied by a locking tab which is hinged to one of the members along a line generally perpendicular to the hinge, the locking tab having a notch formed therein for engaging an edge of the opening in the other member when the members are sharply angled with respect to one another.
4. The combination as set forth in claim 3 in which the members including the opening and locking tab are all molded of plastic integrally with one another with the hinges being defined by scorelines of reduced cross section between the members.
5. The combination as claimed in claim 2 in which the backing member has a narrow peripherial portion defining a large central opening and in which the members are all formed of flexible plastic integrally with one another, with the hinges being in the form of scorelines defining regions of reduced cross section for localized bending between the members.
6. A photo frame and support assembly comprising, in combination, a rectangular frame defining inwardly facing grooves in the opposed edges thereof, a rectangular filler sheet and rectangular backing member having lateral edges for slidable tongue-and-groove reception in said grooves, said backing member being of hollow, open construction characterized by inner and outeral lateral edges, said backing member having a supporting member hinged to one of the inner lateral edges and having a bracing member hinged to the supporting member, with the supporting and bracing members having provision for locking together in sharply angled relation to form a rigid outboard support for supporting the frame in tilted position along one of its adjacent outer lateral edges, the members being formed of flexible material integrally with one another and the hinges being formed by scorelines defining regions of reduced cross section, the spacing between the outer and inner lateral edges being sufficient to accommodate the depth of groove in the frame to permit free insertion of the outer lateral edges into the grooves with the supporting member in outboard position.
7. An easel back for supporting a photo frame having a stifi filler sheet comprising, in combination, a rectangular backing member of hollow, open construction having inner and outer lateral edges, a supporting member having first and second spaced edges arranged at an angle to one another, the first. edge of the supporting member having a hinged connection with an inner lateral edge of the backing member, a bracing member having first and second spaced edges arranged at an angle to one another, the first edge of the bracing member having a hinged connection with the second edge of the supporting member, the hinge connections permitting the members to be folded into tetrahedron shape with the projecting point of the tetrahedron defining a point of the easel support which is behind the backing member and spaced inwardly from an outer lateral edge thereof, and means for rigidly securing the supporting member and bracing member together sharply angled with respect to one another.