US 3732978 A
A method and apparatus for sorting and distributing mail consisting of a multi-compartment mail bag which is collapsable while being transported or returned from a multi-tenant building. The bag is initally retained in a central postal sorting station where mail for each of the tenants is inserted into each of the individual compartments. The multi-compartment bag is then collapsed and transported to its destination indicated on the outside of the bag. When it is delivered to a multi-tenant building, it is erected and supported within a gang mail box. The gang mail box preferably includes individual mail compartments having inwardly projecting flanges designed to project into each of the compartments. This physically isolates each compartment from the other in order to prevent compartment-to-compartment pilferage. A slide fastener is also provided on the front cover of the multi-compartment bag so that the bag can be locked while it is transported to the addressee's building.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  Reader  METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR SORTING AND DISTRIBUTING MAIL  Inventor: Arthur J. Reader, 293 Pepperidge Road, Hewlett Harbor, N.Y. 11557  Filed: Mar. 16, 1972  Appl. No.: 235,267
 US. Cl ..209/122, 150/14  Int. Cl. ..B07c 7/02  Field of Search ...,209/122, 126; 150/14  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,640,083 8/1927 Ladd ..l50/14 1,755,950 4/1930 Dobson ..l50/14 Primary Examiner-Richard A. Schacher A ttorney- Allison C. Callard [in 3,732,978 1 May 15,1973
 ABSTRACT A method and apparatus for sorting and distributing mail consisting of a multi-compartment mail bag which is collapsable while being transported or returned from a multi-tenant building. The bag is initally retained in a central postal sorting station where mail for each of the tenants is inserted into each of the individual compartments. The multi-compartment bag is then collapsed and transported to its destination indicated on the outside of the bag. When it is delivered to a multi-tenant building, it is erected and supported within a gang mail box. The gang mail box preferably includes individual mail compartments having inwardly projecting flanges designed to project into each of the compartments. This physically isolates each compartment from the other in order to prevent compartment-to-compartment pilferage. A slide fastener is also provided on the front cover of the multi-compartment bag so that the bag can be locked while it is transported to the addressees building.
12 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures s swe PATENIEU um 51m SHEET 1 UF 2 PATENTED HAY I 51973 SHEET 2 [IF 2 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR SORTING AND DISTRIBUTING MAIL This invention relates to an improved method and apparatus for mail sorting and distribution.
More specifically, this invention relates to a method and apparatus for mail distribution particularly for use with multi-tenant buildings whereby mail is sorted and containerized prior to its distribution and delivered in individual multi-compartment containers which are designed to fit directly into ganged mail boxes.
In the conventional delivery of mail, a letter carrier is provided with a supply of mail at a particular building site and must sort the mail before distributing it to each of the individual tenants. This is often a slow and laborious job and greatly reduces the efficiency of mail handling within a particular building. Moreover, this type of delivery increases the probability of the loss of pieces of mail since the mail sorting operation does not take place under any close supervision. Moreover, magazines and other commercial mail are often dumped rather than being delivered while they are transported by letter carriers to their destination.
Another method for the conventional sorting and distribution of mail requires that postal personnel sort mail into permanent compartments at a central post office. The mail is then bundled and given to letter carries for delivery. In copending application Ser. No. 191,702, filed Oct. 22, 1971, removable containers or modules were provided for receiving sorted mail, so
that the modules could be transported by a cart to a multi-tenant building. Collection and delivery carts suitable for these modules were disclosed in copending application Ser. No. 209,206, filed on Dec. 17, 1971.
Accordingly, the present invention utilizes mail bags designed with individual compartments assigned to each business or tenant in a particular building. Mail, which would include envelopes, containers, packages and the like, can be sorted at a central post office sorting station and placed into the individual compartments of the bag before it is delivered to a building.
When the mail bag is receiving mail during the sorting phase at a central postal station, it is supported in its expanded form with all of its compartments open, so that permanent or fixed compartments are no longer required. The mail bag therefore eliminates the need for both bundling the sorted mail, and removing the bundled parcels from fixed containers for separate delivery by letter carriers. The bag after delivery can either be inserted into specially designed gang mail boxes adapted to receive the bags, or conventional gang mail boxes. Each of the multi-compartment bags includes an address plate indicating its destination or multi-tenant building. In buildings where there are more than one station of gang mail boxes, the destination tag can also include a further code or number indicating the particular gang mail box where it is to be inserted.
The multi-compartment mail bag is collapsable so that it takes up very little storage space both during delivery and return from a multi-tenant building. The method and apparatus of the present invention eliminates the need for letter carriers to be assigned to a particular route since the multi-compartment bags can be delivered by truck to a particular address, and quickly located in the addressees mailboxes. Thus, the letter carrier can be taken off the streets and relocated at a central sorting building. The letter carrier can then sort the mail into the individual compartments of the multicompartment mail bag before it is transported to the addressees office building.
In another embodiment of the invention, gang mail boxes are provided having internally projecting rectangular flanges which are insertable into each of the compartments of a multi-compartment bag in order to physically isolate each of the compartments of the bag and prevent pilferage by persons from adjacent mail compartments.
The present invention, thus, will cut down on accidental loss of mail, mass dumpings of commercial mail and magazines, and also prevent theft of mail from letter carriers shoulder pouches and carts during delivcry.
The individual mail pouches are preferably constructed from heavy-weight canvas and are internally partitioned by canvas walls to form a plurality of vertically and horizontally expanding compartments. Stiffening elements are also provided within the bag terminating in eyelets which are adapted to receive hooks inside each of the gang mail boxes. Thus, the individual pouches are thus designed to be maintained in their expanded form while they are located in each of the individual gang mail boxes.
It is therefore an object according to the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for distributing mail by means of multi-co mpartment pouches from a central sorting location to the addressees building for insertion into the addressees gang mail boxes.
It is another object according to the present invention to provide a mail distribution. system which overcomes the inefficiency and distribution problems of conventional mail distribution systems.
It is still a further object according to the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for mail distribution which is simple in design, efficient in operation, and inexpensive in cost.
Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings which disclose the embodiments of the invention. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only and not as a definition of the limits of the invention.
In the drawings wherein similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the multi-compartment mail bag according to the present invention:
FIG. 2 is a detailed plan view of "the front of the embodiment of FIG. 1 showing a locked position;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along section 33 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in its folded condition;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing the mounting of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in a gang mail box;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along section 6-6 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is a detailed view of a gang mail box used for receiving the invention of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along section 88 of FIG. 7, showing a further embodiment of the invention.
Referring to FIGS. 1-4, there is shown a multi compartment mail bag 10 having a front flap 18 which is fastened on three sides to the front edge of the bag by means of slide fastener 11. Slide fastener 11 includes one or more slide fastener actuators or handles 12 which are designed to converge and completely secure front cover 18 to bag 10 so that a lock 15 can seal the contents of the bag against pilferage, as shown in detail in FIG. 2.
A plurality of eyelets 14 are formed on the top and bottom of bag 10 so that the bag can be supported from corresponding hooks inside of a gang mail box.
In the embodiment of FIG. 3, eyelets 14 are shown formed at the end of stiffening rods 26 which extend vertically through the entire length of bag 10. Rods 26 are preferably formed of steel in order to add rigidity to the side walls of the bag. The bag may be collapsed as shown in detail in FIG. 4 when there is little or no mail stored stored within so that there is a considerable savings in space when bag 10 is either being transported to the multi-tenant building, or returned to a central postal sorting station. A carrying handle 13 is secured near the top of the bag, and an address plate 16 is mounted adjacent to the handle to identify the destination of the bag.
Referring to FIGS. -8 there is shown bag inserted into a gang mail box 20. Bag 10 preferably includes individual compartments 17 formed of canvas partitions and walls 19 which may be stitched or bonded within bag 10. Each of the compartments preferably includes a rim 24 which is bent upward from the floor of the compartment and may further include an addressees name plate 23 secured to the front thereof. In the embodiment of FIG. 5, front cover 18 has been coiled up at the top of the bag in front of hooks 25. Hooks 25,
shown in detail in FIG. 6, support eyelets 14 so that the bag can be maintained in its expanded form while it is in gang box 20. Hooks 25 may also be mounted at the bottom of gang box 20 and engaged to corresponding eyelets 14 at the bottom of bag 10. Behind each of gang doors 21 is mounted a rectangular projecting flange 22 having rectangular dimensions slightly smaller than the opening of each of compartments 17. Flanges 22 are designed to extend or project into compartments 17 in order to isolate the individual compartments frim one another. On the front of each of gang box systems 20 are included a directory of the tenants 27 who are receiving mail in this particular gang box system.
The multi-compartment mail bag or sack is preferably constructed of a heavy canvas material but may also be constructed of any woven or non-woven material such as leather, nylon, dacron, imitation leather,.plastic or any flexible material which is durable and can be collapsed and expanded without undue wear. The compartments may be formed of the same material as the sack, or of different material depending upon the requirements. The compartments may be stitched or bonded to the bag.
Flanges 22 formed on the inside of gang box 20 may be constructed of any rigid material such as metal, wood or plastic and can be added to conventional mail boxes by bonding or festeners.
The multi-compartment bag of the present invention greatly reduces the amount of space required for transporting already sorted mail and is sufficiently flexible so that it adjusts its volume in accordance with the amount of mail placed within the bag. This represents a substantial savings in space and volume over rigid containers used for transporting and distributing already sorted mail.
While only a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, other changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. A mail container for insertion into a gang mail box comprising: i
a flexible bag having at least one open side;
a cover for closing the open side of said bag;
a plurality of compartments formed within said bag and'having at least one side open to the cover of said bag, said compartments having openings corresponding to each of the boxes of the gang mail boxes;
means for securing the cover over the opening of said bag; and
mounting means formed on at least one surface of said bag for securing said bag within the gang mail box.
2. The mail container as recited in claim 1, wherein said fastening means comprises a slide fastener formed on said cover and said at least one open side of said bag.
3. The mail container as recited in claim 1, wherein said mounting means comprises at least one eyelet formed adjacent to the top of said surface of said bag for permitting said bag to be mounted within the gang box.
4. The mail container as recited in claim 1, wherein each of said compartments further comprises a rim formed on the open side of said compartment and extending across a portion thereof.
5. The mail container as recited in claim 4, wherein said rim further comprises identification means for receiving an identifying tag of the addressee of the compartment.
6. The mail container as recited in claim 1 additionally comprising a rigid projection mounted on each box of the gang mail box and extending partially into the open side of each compartment of the mail bag.
7. The mail container as recited in claim 6 wherein each of said rigid projections has an external periphery slightly smaller than the open side of said compartment.
8. Method for sorting and distributing mail comprising the steps of;
setting up a multi-compartment collapsible bag at a central post office sorting station,
sorting mail and inserting the mail into selected compartments of the bag,
closing and collapsing the bag to enclose the sorted mail,
delivering the bag to a multi-tenant building, and
expanding and mounting the bag in a gang mail box.
9. The method as recited in claim 8, wherein said step of closing the bag further comprises the step of locking the bag before delivery.
10. The method as recited in claim 8, wherein said step of expanding and mounting includes securing the bag to hooks inside the gang mail box.
11. The method as recited in claim 8, wherein following said step of expanding and mounting, said method further comprises collapsing said bag after the mail has been removed and returning said bag to the central post office sorting station.
12. The method as recited in claim 8, wherein the gang mail box includes a plurality of rigid projections, each corresponding to the opening of each bag compartment and extending partially within each compartment.