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Publication numberUS3709189 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 9, 1973
Filing dateDec 20, 1971
Priority dateDec 20, 1971
Publication numberUS 3709189 A, US 3709189A, US-A-3709189, US3709189 A, US3709189A
InventorsWidham E
Original AssigneeWidham E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mail delivery signal device
US 3709189 A
Abstract
Mail delivery signal device having on a bottom-hinged lid on a mailbox a casing with a bottom slot and a ledge near the top, and a signal plate having at the top a rearward flange and opposite side ears, and being slidable in the casing and projecting through the bottom slot, with the plate being in non-signalling position resting with its top flange on the ledge in closed vertical lid position and, on opening the lid, sliding off the ledge and gravitating to signalling position, and there being in the casing at the top a cam formation which on manual inward shove of the plate from signalling position cooperates with the top of the plate in camming the same with its flange into overlap with the ledge so as to come to rest on the latter on releasing the plate.
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United States Patent Widham 1 Jan. 9, 1973 [54] MAIL DELIVERY SIGNAL DEVICE Primary Examiner-Louis J. Cupozi [76] Inventor: Ernest G. Widham, 145 Great Neck Attorney-Walter Spruege] Road, Waterford, Conn. 06385 [57] ABSTRACT [22] Filed: Dec. 20, 1971 Mall del1very signal device having on a bottom-hinged PP' 209,587 lid on a mailbox a casing with a bottom slot and a ledge near the top, and a signal plate having at the top 52 us. Cl ..116/l32, 232/35 rearward flange and Opposite Side ears, and being 51 1111.0. ..G08c 5/00 Shdable in the Casing and Projecting through the [58] Field of Search 16/114, 132; 232/34, 35, 36 tom Slot, with the Plate beingih hon-Signalling P tion resting with its top flange on the ledge in closed 5 References Ci vertical lid position and, on opening the lid, sliding off the ledge and gravitating to signalling position, and UNITED STATES PATENTS there being in the casing at the top a cam formatior 2,581,880 1 1952 Price ..232 35 which manual inward Shve the Plate 2,808,932 10/1957 Armstrong 232/3 5 signalling position cooperates with the top of the plate 2,856,123 10/1958 Mary ..232/35 in camming the same with its flange into overlap with 3,212,701 10/1965 Smith 16/132 X the ledge so as to come to rest on the latter on releas- 3,408,978 11/1968 Duffey ..1l 6/132 ing the plate. 3,559,878 2/1971 Roeder ..232/35 3 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures MAIL DELIVERY SIGNAL DEVICE This invention relates to mail boxes in general, and to mail delivery signals for mail boxesin particular.

The present invention is concerned with mail delivery signals especially, though not exclusively, for rural mail boxes with their characteristic bottomhinged lids. Among known mail delivery sig'nals is one shown in the US. Fat. to Mary, No. 2,856,123, which is structurally quite simple and also highly effective in indicating a mail delivery. This particular signal is in the form of a rectangular plate that serves as a signal flag, and is provided with a top flange which in nonsignalling position of the flag rests on a top ledge in a casing section on the closed lid ofa mailbox, with most of the flag being then hidden in the casing section and only a bottom portion thereof extending outwardly through a slot in the bottom wall of the casing section. In delivering mail, the mailman will in accustomed manner open the lid on the mailbox from the top, whereby in the course of the downward swing of the lid, the top flange on the flag will slide off the top ledge in the casing section and the flag will thengravitate downwardly and outwardly through the bottom slot in the casing section until its top flange comes to reston the bottom wall of the latter. The flag is then freely suspended from the casing section, and will remain suspended therefrom after the mailman closes the lid, as required, after depositing mail in the box, with the flag being then clearly discernible to signify a mail delivery to an observer nearby or ever farther away. While this prior signal is entirely satisfactory in most respects, it does have a drawback in the important matter of restoring the flag to its non-signalling position which must be done if the flag is to be effective in signalling the next mail delivery. Thus, whoever picks up the delivered mail will customarily close the lid of the mailbox, and will then and there deal with restoration of the flag to its non-signalling position. Restoration of the flag to its non-signalling position involves manually pushing the flag at its bottom portion upwardly into the casing section on the closed lid until the top flange on the flag is at least at the level of the top ledge in the casing section, whereupon the flag requires further manipulation at its bottom portion to hook its top flange, by feel alone and without any visual observation, onto the top ledge in the casing section to a sufficient extent for firm support of the flag'in its nonsignalling position. While this is not an overly'difficult task for many, it is just too much of a task for many others who either lack whatever skill is required for this task, or become impatient if they do not suceed on the' first or second attempt and, in consequence, forget about restoring it to non-signalling position.

It is an object of the present invention to provide for a mailbox with a bottom-hinged lid a mail delivery signal in the form of a signal flag which, like the aforementioned prior signal flag, rests with a topflange on a top ledge in a casing section on the closed lid in nonsignalling position and, in the course of opening the lid in a downward swing, slides with its top flange off this top ledge and then 'gravitates downwardly through a bottom slot in the casing section into readily perceptible signalling position, but unlike this prior signal flag, the flag is assuredly restored on firstattempt to firm' support with its topflange on the top ledge in the casing its bottom back into the casing section until it is felt to hit the top of the casing section, and then simply releasing the flag. With this arrangement, entirely reliable restoration of the flag to its non-signalling position is instantaneous and requires no feel or skill whatever in hooking the top flange of the flag onto the top ledge in the casing section.

It is another object of the present invention to achieve reliable restoration of the signal flag to its nonsignalling position on merely shoving the same back into the casing section on the closed lid until it hits the top of the Iatter'as aforementioned, by providing the casing section at its top with an inner cam formation which on the inward shove of the flag is engaged by the top end of the latter and cooperates therewith in camming the top flange into unfailing overlap with the top ledge in the casing section, so that on release of the flag its top flange will descend into firm support on the top ledge.

Further objects and advantages will appear to those skilled in the art from the following, considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

In the accompanying drawings, in which certain modes of carrying out thepresent invention are shown for illustrative purposes:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a mailbox with a delivery signal device according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view similar to FIG. I, but showing the delivery signal device in a different condition;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary section through the mailbox as taken on the line 33 of FIG. I;

FIG. 4' is a fragmentary section similar to FIG. 3, but showing certain prominent parts in a different position;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary section taken substantially on the line 5-S of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6. is a fragmentary section through a mailbox with a modified delivery signal device; and

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary section through a mailbox with a further modified delivery signaldevice.

Referring to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGS. 1 and 2 thereof, the reference numeral 10 designates amailbox which is of-outdoor type, and is suitably mounted as, for example, on an upright post (notshow n). The mailbox 10 is provided with a lid 12 which at its bottom is hinged to the box asat 14, so as to be swingable into open and closed positions, with the lid being substantially vertically disposed in its closed position (FIG. 1 The lid 1-2 is at its top provided with a catch I3 having a V-formation 15 which,-on closing the lid, snaps into register with a similar V-formation on a fixed member 17 on the box 10 to keep the lid closed, with the'catch l3 and member 17 being suffi ciently resilient to release the former from register with the latter on pulling the catch for opening the lid.

The mailbox I0 is provided with a mail delivery signal device I6 which comprises a casing I8 on the lid 12, and a signal plate 20 (FIGS. 1 to 5). The casing 18 provides front and rear walls 22 and 24, side walls 26 and 28, and top and bottom walls 30 and 32. The rear wall 24 is mounted on the lid 12, and is in this instance suitably secured, as by pressfitting, in arecess 34 in the lid, and the remaining walls are, in this instance,

formed by the lid. An upper endlength of the rear wall 24 of the casing I8 is rearwardly offset as at 36 to provide a ledge 38 near the top wall 30 of the casing, and the casing is also provided with a bottom slot 40 which widthwise extends into adjoining portions of the bottom and front walls 32 and 22 (FIGS. 3 and 4), and is with its ends spaced from the adjacent side walls 26 and 28 (FIG. so as to leave on the bottom and front walls 32 and 22 bottom and front rests or shoulders 42 and 44, respectively, which border the ends of the slot 40.

The signal plate is lengthwise slidable in the casing 18 and projects through the slot 40. The signal plate is at its top provided with a rearwardly projecting flange 46 (FIGS. 3 and 4) and with oppositely projecting side ears (FIG. 5), with the length of the plate 20 from the side ears 48 to its bottom end constituting the effective signal length of the plate.

The signal plate 20 is, in closed lid position, adapted to rest with its top flange 46 on the ledge 38 in the casing for the support of the signal plate in non-signalling position in which only a relatively short bottomlength thereof projects through the slot 40 (FIGS. 1 and 3).

When delivering mail, the mailman will open the lid 12 to deposit the mail in the box 10. To this end, the mailmanwill swing the lid from its closed position (FIG. 1) to an open position (FIG. 2) in a downward swing, in the course of which the signal plate 20 will with its top flange 46 slide off the ledge 38 in the casing and gravitate downwardly until its side cars 48 come to rest on the front shoulders 44 at the opposite ends of the bottom slot 20 in the casing (FIGS. 4 and 5), with the plate 20 being then in signalling position in which it depends vertically with its full signal length from the casing. When the mailman closes the lid again after mail delivery, as he is required to do, the signal plate will with its side ears 48 slide onto the bottom shoulders 42 at the opposite slot ends and remain with its full signallength suspended in vertical dot-and-dash line disposition from the casing (FIG. 1) for its ready view by an observer. Thus, when the mailman closes the lid after mail delivery, the plate 20 will be in its con spicuous signalling position and clearly indicate to a distant observer who looks for mail that mail has been delivered and may be picked up. The signal plate may be all the more conspicuous in its signalling position by being of a color which is in striking contrast with the color of the mailbox.

The person who picks up the mail will, on retrieving the same from the box, customarily close the lid 12, and will then restore the signal plate 20 to nonsignalling position to condition the same for return to signalling position in response to the next mail delivery To do so, the one restoring the plate 20 to nonsignalling position need merely engage with one or more fingers the bottom edge of the plate and shove the latterback into the casing 18 until its top end hits the-- the casing until its top end hits the closed top of the casing, there is provided in the top of the casing a cam formation which is in the path .of the top end of the plate on the inward shove of the latter into the casing, and on being engaged by this top end, cooperates with the latter in camming it with its rearward flange 46 into overlap with the ledge 38 in the casing so that, on release of the plate, the latter will with its flange 46 come to rest on the ledge 38 (FIG. 3). The cam forma tion 50 is preferably and conveniently formed by the inner inclined surface of the top wall 30 of the casing.

While in the described signal-device 16 of FIGS 1 to 5 most of the walls of the casing 18-are formed by the lid 12, FIG. 6 shows a modified, and in some respects preferred, signal device 16' which is a preassembled unit separate from the mailbox lid 12'.to which it is attached. Thus, the casing 18' consists in this instance of I two, preferably plastic-molded, parts 52 and 54, of

which part 52 forms the rearwall of the casing, and part 54 forms the remaining casing walls, with the rear wall part 52 being, after placement of the signal plate 20 into the casing, assembled with part 54 by being simply pressfttted into a rear recess 56 in the latter. Part 54 has in this instance a circumferential mounting flange 58 which bears against the lid 12' and is attached thereto by screws 60 or the like. i

In opening the mailbox, the mailman andthe person picking up delivered mail will more often than not hold the lid of the mailbox temporarily open in a position like or similar to that shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, or will swing the lid all the way into vertical downward position. It does happen, however, that whoever opens the lid will release it for gravitation into vertical downward position, whereby the lid is more than likely to momentarily overswing toward the bottom surface 62 of the mailbox (FIG. 2). In order to avoid, .in the course of a particularly wide overswing of'the'lid, clashing of the signal plate against the bottom surface of the mailbox and possible damage to, or even breakage of, the signal plate, the modified casing 18" on the mailbox lid 12" in FIG. 7 has at its bottom a pocket'formation 64. Thus, even on the exceptionally wide overswing of the lid 12" beyond vertical downward position, as shown in FIG. 7, the top flange 46" on the signal plate 20 will project into the pocket formation 64 so-that-the signal plate will be kept away from the bottom surface of the mail box.

What is claimed is: I I

l. A mail delivery signal device on-a bottom-hinged mailbox lid swingable into substantially vertical and horizontal closed and open positions, comprising a casing having a slot and front rear, side and bottom'walls of which said rear wall is mounted on said lid and-is rearwardly offset to form a ledge near said top wall, said front wall is outwardly spaced from said lid, and said slot extends widthwise'into adjoining portions of said bottom and front walls, and is with'its ends spaced from the adjacent side walls,.with the portions. of the bottom and front walls bordering the slot ends constituting bottom and front. rests, respectively; a longitudinal signal plate lengthwise slidable in said casing and projecting through'said slot, said plate having at its top a rearward flange and oppositely projecting side ears, and the length of said plate from the bottom thereof to said side ears constituting the effective signal length, with said plate being, in closed lid position, adapted to rest with its flangeonsaid ledge for its support in nonsignalling position in which only a bottom end projects through said slot to the outside of the casing, and said plate responding to downward swing 'of said lid from closed to open position in sliding with its flange from 7 release of the plate.

2. A mail delivery signal device as in claim 1, in which on closure of said lid with said plate in signalling position, said plate will remain in vertical signalling position by its suspension with said side'ears on said bottom rests.

3. A mail delivery signal device as in claim 1 in I which said cam means is formed by a surface of said top wall which is inclined to said front and rear walls.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2581880 *May 18, 1950Jan 8, 1952Lawson PriceAutomatic rural mailbox signal
US2808982 *Sep 14, 1954Oct 8, 1957Armstrong William TAutomatic mailbox signal
US2856123 *May 16, 1957Oct 14, 1958Mary William JMailbox signal
US3212701 *Jul 22, 1964Oct 19, 1965Smith Richard GMail box signal
US3408978 *Jan 15, 1968Nov 5, 1968Murl A. DuffeyAutomatic mail signal for mail boxes
US3559878 *Jul 14, 1969Feb 2, 1971Roeder GeorgeMail box signal
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4247039 *Oct 25, 1978Jan 27, 1981Jackes-Evans Manufacturing CompanyMailbox signal and door handle device
US4344559 *Oct 6, 1980Aug 17, 1982Widham Ernest GSignal devices for rural mailboxes
US4655390 *Sep 8, 1986Apr 7, 1987Martin Elbert TMailbox signal device
US4708286 *Dec 15, 1986Nov 24, 1987Norris James EMail-call signal device
US5385295 *Sep 21, 1993Jan 31, 1995Mcnair; RhettSignalling device
US5388759 *Feb 2, 1993Feb 14, 1995Barnes; Gary M.Delivery sign for a rural mailbox
US5634589 *Mar 19, 1996Jun 3, 1997Greene; Don L.Clamp on mail box delivery signal accessory
US6708875 *Mar 28, 2002Mar 23, 2004Ronald W. CunninghamMailbox signal device
US8297493 *Nov 23, 2010Oct 30, 2012Gary Dean KudrayMail box flag that fits on to the front of the mail box
US8973812Jan 31, 2014Mar 10, 2015The United States Postal ServiceCluster box mail delivery unit having security features
US20040122780 *Apr 2, 2002Jun 24, 2004Devar Rodney CUniversal delivery and collection box unit
US20040195303 *Apr 7, 2003Oct 7, 2004Hunt Dimple M.Flag system for use with a mailbox
US20040212502 *Nov 12, 2001Oct 28, 2004Allan DalgaardMail delivery alarm system with intergrated transmitter
US20120125991 *Nov 23, 2010May 24, 2012Gary KudrayMail box flag that fits on to the front of the mail box
USD745765Jun 2, 2014Dec 15, 2015United States Postal ServiceCluster box mail delivery unit
USD785274Dec 15, 2015Apr 25, 2017United States Postal ServiceCluster box mail delivery unit
EP0564391A1 *Mar 26, 1993Oct 6, 1993Dan BoccaraMail delivery signal device for mailboxes
Classifications
U.S. Classification232/35
International ClassificationA47G29/122, A47G29/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47G29/121
European ClassificationA47G29/12R2