Title:
Bi-directional page for photograph album
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bi-directional album page including two flexible plastic sheets, at least one and preferably both of which are transparent, configured such that photographs of one width may be inserted through side openings and a photograph of a greater width may be inserted through a top opening. The page may include a paper sheet captured between the two plastic sheets.



Inventors:
Fu, David (Rowland Heights, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/824407
Publication Date:
11/29/2001
Filing Date:
04/02/2001
Assignee:
Rembrandt Photo Services, a California corporation
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B42F7/06; (IPC1-7): A47G1/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DAVIS, CASSANDRA HOPE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David Weiss (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A page for storing a first rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension or a second rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension greater than the width dimension of the first photograph, the page comprising the combination of: a first rectangular plastic sheet having a top edge, a bottom edge, a first side edge, a second side edge, a first dimension parallel to said top edge greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, and a second dimension parallel to said second side edge greater than the width dimension of the second photograph; a transparent second rectangular plastic sheet having a top edge, a bottom edge, a first side edge, a second side edge, a first dimension parallel to said top edge of said second sheet greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, and a second dimension parallel to said second side edge of said second sheet greater than the width dimension of the second photograph; said sheets in face-to-face relation secured to one another along said top, bottom and second side edges respectively; said sheets further secured to one another by two welds in an alignment perpendicular to said second side edges, said welds spaced from one another along said alignment by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said welds spaced from said top edges by a distance greater than the height dimension of the first photograph; a top opening along said top edges of said sheets, said top opening being greater than the height dimension of the second photograph and positioned for permitting the second photograph to be inserted through said top opening and between said welds with the width dimension of the second photograph parallel to said second side edges; and at least one of said sheets providing a side opening parallel to said second side edges and spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said side opening and between at least one of said welds and said top edges with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

2. The page according to claim 1, wherein: said sheets are secured along said top edges to one another by a first top weld seal and a second top weld seal, said first and second top weld seals having facing ends defining said top opening.

3. The page according to claim 1, wherein: said side opening is along said first side edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

4. The page according to claim 1, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

5. The page according to claim 4, wherein: said side opening is along said first side edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes a second side opening along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

6. The page according to claim 1, wherein: said welds are spaced from said bottom edges by a distance greater than the height dimension of said first photograph; and at least one of said sheets provides a second side opening parallel to said second side edges and spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said second side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said second side opening and between at least one of said welds and said bottom edges with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

7. The page according to claim 6, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

8. The page according to claim 6, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

9. The page according to claim 8, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

10. The page according to claim 1, wherein: said plastic sheets are further secured to one another by two additional welds in an alignment perpendicular to said second side edges, said additional welds spaced from one another by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said additional welds spaced from said bottom edge by a distance greater than the height dimension of the first photograph, said additional welds positioned with respect to said top opening for permitting the second photograph to be inserted through said top opening and between said additional welds with the width dimension of the second photograph parallel to said second side edges; and at least one of said sheets provides a second side opening parallel to said second side edges and spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said second side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said second side opening and between at least one of said additional welds and said bottom edges with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

11. The page according to claim 10, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

12. The page according to claim 10, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

13. The page according to claim 12, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

14. The page according to claim 10, wherein: said two additional welds are spaced from said welds parallel to said second side edges by a distance greater than the height dimension of the first photograph; and at least one of said sheets provides a third side opening parallel to said second side edges and spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said third side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said third side opening and between at least one of said additional welds and at least one of said welds with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

15. The page according to claim 14, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

16. The page according to claim 14, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

17. The page according to claim 16, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

18. A page for storing a first rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension or a second rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension greater than the width dimension of the first photograph, the page comprising the combination of: a first rectangular plastic sheet having a horizontal top edge, a horizontal bottom edge, a first vertical side edge and a second vertical side edge; a transparent second rectangular plastic sheet having a horizontal top edge, a horizontal bottom edge, a first vertical side edge and a second vertical side edge, said sheets in face-to-face relation and secured to one another along said respective top, bottom and second side edges; each of said sheets having a horizontal dimension greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, each of said sheets having a vertical dimension greater than the width dimension of the second photograph; a top opening along said top edges of said sheets, said top opening having ends separated by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph; said sheets further secured to one another by a plurality of first weld seals and a plurality of second weld seals arranged such that respective ones of said first weld seals and of said second weld seals are horizontally aligned, said respective ones of said of said first weld seals and of said second weld seals having facing ends substantially aligned vertically with the ends of said top opening for permitting the second photograph to be inserted through said top opening and between said facing ends of said first and second weld seals with the width dimension of the second photograph vertically disposed; said first weld seals being vertically spaced apart such that at least two adjacent ones of said first weld seals are vertically separated by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph; and at least one of said sheets providing vertical side openings respectively between said at least two adjacent first weld seals and horizontally spaced from the second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said side openings with the height dimension of the first photograph vertically disposed.

19. The page according to claim 18, wherein: said sheets are secured along said top edges to one another by a first top weld seal and a second top weld seal, said first and second top weld seals having facing ends defining said top opening.

20. The page according to claim 18, wherein: said side openings are along said first side edge of said second sheet; and said horizontal dimension of said first sheet is greater than said horizontal dimension of said second sheet.

21. The page according to claim 18, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

22. The page according to claim 21, wherein: said side openings are along said first side edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

23. A page for storing a first rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension or a second rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension greater than the width dimension of the first photograph, the page comprising the combination of: a first rectangular plastic sheet having a top edge, a bottom edge, a first side edge, a second side edge, a first dimension parallel to said top edge greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, and a second dimension parallel to said second side edge greater than the width dimension of the second photograph; a transparent second rectangular plastic sheet having a top edge, a bottom edge, a first side edge, a second side edge, a first dimension parallel to said top edge of said second sheet greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, and a second dimension parallel to said second side edge of said second sheet greater than the width dimension of the second photograph; said sheets in face-to-face relation secured to one another along said top, bottom and second side edges respectively; said sheets further secured to one another by a first weld seal spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said first weld seal spaced from said top edge by a distance greater than the height dimension of the first photograph; a top opening along said top edges of said sheets, said top opening being greater than the height dimension of the second photograph and positioned for permitting the second photograph to be inserted through said top opening and between said first weld seal and said second side edges with the width dimension of the second photograph parallel to said second side edges; and at least one of said sheets providing a first side opening parallel to said second side edges and spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said first side opening and between said first weld seal and said top edges with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

24. The page according to claim 23, wherein: said first weld seal is spaced from said bottom edges by a distance greater than the height dimension of said first photograph; and at least one of said sheets provides a second side opening parallel to said second side edges and spaced from said second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, said second side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said second side opening and between said first weld seal and said bottom edges with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

25. The page according to claim 24, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

26. The page according to claim 24, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

27. The page according to claim 26, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

28. The page according to claim 23, wherein: said sheets are further secured to one another by a second weld seal spaced from said second side edges by said distance that said first weld seal is spaced from said second side edges, said second weld seal spaced from said bottom edge by a distance greater than the height dimension of the first photograph; and at least one of said sheets provides a second side opening aligned with said first side opening, said second side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said second side opening and between said second weld seal and said bottom edges with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

29. The page according to claim 28, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

30. The page according to claim 28, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

31. The page according to claim 30, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

32. The page according to claim 28, wherein: said first and second weld seals are spaced apart parallel to said second side edges by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph; and at least one of said sheets provides a third side opening aligned with said first side opening, said third side opening being greater than the height dimension of the first photograph and positioned for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through said third side opening and between said first and second weld seals with the height dimension of the first photograph parallel to said second side edges.

33. The page according to claim 32, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second sheet; and said first dimension of said first sheet is greater than said first dimension of said second sheet.

34. The page according to claim 32, further including: a rectangular paper sheet captured between said plastic sheets and including a margin extending from said first side edges.

35. The page according to claim 34, wherein: said side openings are along said first edge of said second plastic sheet; and said page further includes side openings along said first side edge of said first plastic sheet.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/196,253, filed Apr. 11, 2000, which application is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to photograph albums, and more particularly to pages for storing and displaying extra-width or panoramic photographic prints as well as photographic prints of more common shorter width. At least two shorter or conventional width prints may be held on the page with their width dimension horizontally disposed, i.e. disposed perpendicular to the album's spine; and at least one panoramic or extra-width print may be held on the page with its width dimension vertically disposed, i.e. disposed parallel to the album's spine. In view of the two directions with which the photograph's width dimension may be disposed, this type of page is commonly referred to as a “bi-directional page”.

[0003] Bi-directional album pages are well known, such as the bi-directional page disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,965,948 to Jason I. Ruebens, in which two photographs of different widths may be inserted through a side opening in the page. Another type of bi-directional album page is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,301,445 to Thomas Hoffmeister, in which a photograph may be inserted in different orientations through a top opening in the page. Yet another type of bi-directional album page is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,447,973 to Hans Wihlke, in which photographs of the same dimensions may be inserted in different orientations through side openings in the page.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention provides a bi-directional album page in which photographs of one width may be inserted through a side opening in the page, and in which a photograph having a substantially greater width may be inserted through a top opening in the page. According to one aspect thereof, the invention provides a page for storing a first rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension or a second rectangular photograph having a height dimension and a width dimension greater than the width dimension of the first photograph, the page comprising the combination of: a first rectangular plastic sheet having a horizontal top edge, a horizontal bottom edge, a first vertical side edge and a second vertical side edge; a transparent second rectangular plastic sheet having a horizontal top edge, a horizontal bottom edge, a first vertical side edge and a second vertical side edge, the sheets in face-to-face relation and secured to one another along their respective top, bottom and second side edges; each of the sheets having a horizontal dimension greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph, each of the sheets having a vertical dimension greater than the width dimension of the second photograph; a top opening along the top edges of the sheets, the top opening having ends separated by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph; the sheets being further secured to one another by a plurality of first weld seals and a plurality of second weld seals arranged such that respective ones of the first weld seals and of the second weld seals are horizontally aligned, the respective ones of the first weld seals and of the second weld seals having facing ends substantially aligned vertically with the ends of the top opening for permitting the second photograph to be inserted through the top opening and between the facing ends of the first and second weld seals with the width dimension of the second photograph vertically disposed; the first weld seals being vertically spaced apart such that at least two adjacent ones of the first weld seals are vertically separated by a distance greater than the height dimension of the second photograph; and at least one of the sheets providing vertical side openings respectively between the at least two adjacent first weld seals and horizontally spaced from the second side edges by a distance greater than the width dimension of the first photograph and greater than the height dimension of the second photograph for permitting the first photograph to be inserted through the side openings with the height dimension of the first photograph vertically disposed. The sheets are preferably secured along their top edges to one another by a first top weld seal and a second top weld seal, the first and second weld seals having facing ends defining the top opening.

[0005] In one embodiment of the bi-directional page of the present invention, the side openings are along the first side edge of the second sheet, and the horizontal dimension of the first sheet is greater than the horizontal dimension of the second sheet.

[0006] In another embodiment, the page further includes a rectangular paper sheet captured between the plastic sheets and including a margin extending from the first side edges. The side openings are preferably along the first side edge of the second plastic sheet; and the page preferably further includes side openings along the first side edge of the first plastic sheet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the invention, together with further advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings in which a preferred embodiment of the present invention is illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention.

[0008] FIG. 1a is a front view of a photographic print of one common aspect ratio;

[0009] FIG. 1b is a front view of a photographic print of a panoramic or extra-width aspect ratio;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a front view of a first preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page in accordance with the present invention;

[0011] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional representation of the bi-directional page embodiment of FIG. 2 taken along the line 3-3 in the direction of the appended arrows;

[0012] FIG. 4 is a front view of a second preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page in accordance with the present invention;

[0013] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional representation of the embodiment of FIG. 4 taken along the line 5-5 in the direction of the appended arrows;

[0014] FIG. 6 is a front view of a third preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page in accordance with the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional representation of the page shown in FIG. 6 taken along the line 7-7 in the direction of the appended arrows;

[0016] FIG. 8 is a front view of the intermediate sheet of the bi-directional page of FIGS. 6 and 7;

[0017] FIG. 9 is a front view of a fourth preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page in accordance with the present invention; and

[0018] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional representation of the page shown in FIG. 9 taken along the line 10-10 in the direction of the appended arrows.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0019] Turning first to FIGS. 1a and 1b, the photographic print 10 is of one common aspect ratio w/h where w is the width of the print 10 and h is its height, while the print 12 is of a panoramic or extra-width aspect ratio w′/h′ where w′ is the width and h′ the height of the panoramic print 12. Photographic prints typically produced by photographic apparatus according to a system commonly known as APS or “Advanced Photo System” are ordinarily of two general sizes, the first of which may be represented by the “conventional” print 10 where its height h is nominally 4 inches and its width w is nominally 6 or 7 inches, and the panoramic or extra-width print 12 having a height h′ of nominally 4 inches and a width w′ of nominally 11½ inches.

[0020] The preferred embodiments of the bi-directional pages shown in FIGS. 2-8 are adapted for holding photographic prints of two different aspect ratios such as the two prints 10, 12 of FIGS. 1a and 1b. More specifically, the preferred embodiments shown are specifically adapted for holding photographic prints 10, 12 of the APS type and in particular conventional size prints 4 inches in height by 6 or 7 inches in width as well as panoramic or extra-width prints 12 of 4 inches in height by 11½ inches in width.

[0021] Turning to FIGS. 2 and 3, a first preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page 14 includes a first substantially rectangular, flat, flexible, transparent plastic sheet 16 facing a second substantially rectangular, flat, flexible, transparent plastic sheet 18. Both sheets 16 and 18 are of substantially the same vertical or height dimension H (as viewed in the drawing of FIG. 2) slightly greater than the width w′ of the panoramic prints 12 (FIG. 1b) and the second sheet 18 has a horizontal or width dimension W preferably slightly less than the width of the first sheet 16 but at least slightly greater than the width w of a photographic print 10 (FIG. 1a) intended for being held horizontally lengthwise (along the print's width w) on the page 14. The second sheet 18 is superposed on the first sheet 16 with their respective right side edges 19 aligned and secured together preferably by weld-seal 20, while the horizontal lower or bottom edges 21 of the sheets 16, 18 are aligned and secured together preferably by weld-seal 22. The page 14 is adapted for being secured or held by a binder, for example by apertures 24 along the left margin 26 (as viewed in the drawing) for cooperation with the rings of a loose-leaf album cover.

[0022] The sheets 16, 18 are secured together along their respective upper or top edges 27, such as by two weld-seals 28, 30. The seal 28 extends from the left edge 32 of the second sheet 18, and the seal 30 extends from the right edge seal 20, the facing ends 34, 36 of the respective seals 28, 30 being spaced apart by a distance slightly greater than the height h′ of the panoramic print 12 (FIG. 1b) so as to provide a top opening 38 along the top edges 27 of the two sheets 16, 18 of length slightly greater than the height h′ of the photo print 12, i.e. the top opening 38 has ends at the respective facing ends 34, 36 separated by a distance slightly greater than the height h′ of the photo print 12.

[0023] The two plastic sheets 16, 18 are further secured together by horizontal weld-seals or welds 40 each extending from the left edge 32 of the second sheet 18 and each having an end 42 vertically aligned with the end 34 of the left upper seal 28. The vertical separation between the first and second adjacent seals 40 is slightly greater than the height h of the print 10 (FIG. 1a), providing a first side opening 44 between the two sheets 16, 18 of length slightly greater than the height h of the photo print 10. Similarly, the vertical separation between the third and fourth adjacent seals 40 is slightly greater than the height h of photo print 10 (FIG. 1a), providing a second side opening 46 of length slightly greater than the height h.

[0024] Horizontally aligned with the respective seals 40 are horizontal weld-seals or welds 48, further securing the plastic sheets 16, 18 together, the seals 48 having left ends 50 (i.e. facing the right ends 42 of the seals 40) vertically aligned with the left end 36 of the upper edge seal 30. Accordingly, a panoramic print 12 may be inserted between the two plastic sheets 16, 18 through the top opening 38, with the height dimension h′ of the panoramic print 12 passing between facing weld-seal ends 34, 36 and facing seal ends 42, 50, for being contained between the facing seal ends 42, 50. Two conventional size prints 10 may be inserted between the plastic sheets 16, 18 through the side openings 44, 46, with the prints' height dimension h passing between respective pairs of horizontal welds 40 and respective pairs of horizontal welds 48. Vertical weld-seals 52 may be provided, further securing the first and second sheets 16, 18 together, horizontally spaced from the left side openings 44, 46 by a distance slightly greater than the greatest width w of a print 10 to be horizontally held by the page 14. In one example, this distance may be slightly greater than 7 inches, so that a 4 by 7 inch print may be inserted as well as a 4 by 6 inch print 10.

[0025] Plastic materials and processes for fabricating the bi-directional page 14 are well known in the art. One preferred type of plastic sheet material is polypropylene, and the pages 14 may be fabricated and the weld-seals formed in accordance with well known thermal welding techniques such as the thermocontact welding method taught in U.S. Pat. No. 5,312,507, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. Other plastic materials and fabrication processes may be utilized as well.

[0026] The second preferred bi-directional page embodiment 54, shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, is similar to the first preferred bi-directional page embodiment 14 of FIGS. 2 and 3, except for the features discussed below. The bi-directional page 54 may be slightly shorter in the width dimension and slightly longer in the height dimension than the bi-directional page 14 (as viewed in the drawings of FIGS. 2 and 4). In one example, the width of the second plastic sheet 18 may be sufficient for permitting the page 54 to hold conventional size prints of 4 inches by 6 inches (e.g., such width dimension W may be 6¼ inches), and in another example one additional inch may be added to the width of the second sheet 18 for permitting the page 54 to horizontally hold conventional size prints 10 of 4 inches by 7 inches as well.

[0027] In addition to the page 54 permitting panoramic or extra-width prints 12 to be admitted through the top opening 38 and contained between the pairs of facing weld ends 42 and 50, the horizontal weld-seals 40 are vertically spaced from each other and from the upper edge seal 28 and the lower edge seal 22, and the horizontal weld-seals 48 are vertically spaced from each other and from the upper edge weld-seal 30 and the lower edge weld-seal 22, by a distance slightly greater than the height dimension h of the print 10. A first conventional size print 10 may be inserted between the two plastic panels 16 and 18, through the first side opening 44 between the upper edge seal 28 and the upper left horizontal seal 40, with the print's height dimension h being contained between the upper edge seals 28, 30 and the two upper horizontal seals 40, 48; a second conventional size print 10 may be inserted through the second side opening 46 between the upper and lower horizontal seals 40, with the print's height dimension h contained between the two upper horizontal seals 40, 48 and the two lower horizontal seals 40, 48; and a third conventional size print 10 may be inserted between the plastic panels 16 and 18 through a third side opening 55 between the lower left horizontal seal 40 and the lower edge seal 22, with the print's height dimension h contained between the lower horizontal seals 40, 48 and the lower edge seal 22. Each of the side openings 44, 46, 55 is slightly greater in length (i.e., in height as viewed in the drawing of FIG. 4) than the height dimension h of the conventional size print 10 (FIG. 1a). Accordingly, in the example shown in FIG. 4, three 4 inch by 6 inch prints 10 may be inserted between the plastic sheets 16, 18 through the side openings 44, 46, 55, as well as one panoramic print 12 (FIG. 1b) of 4 inch height h′ may be inserted between the plastic sheets 16, 18 through the top opening 38.

[0028] Turning to FIGS. 6-8, a third preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page 56 includes an intermediate generally rectangular sheet, preferably an opaque paper sheet 58, captured between a first substantially rectangular, flat, flexible, transparent plastic sheet 60 and a second substantially rectangular, flat, flexible, transparent plastic sheet 62. The first and second plastic sheets 60, 62 are preferably of the same dimensions, and the paper sheet 58 is slightly shorter in its height dimension(as viewed in the drawing of FIGS. 6 and 8) and is greater in its width dimension than the respective height and width dimensions of the plastic sheets 60, 62. The width of each of the plastic sheets 60, 62 is at least slightly greater than the width dimension w of the conventional size photo print 10 (FIG. 1a), and the height of the plastic sheets 60, 62 is slightly greater than the width dimension w′ of the panoramic or extra-width print 12 (FIG. 1b). The left edge 64 of the intermediate paper sheet 58 may be provided with means for securing the page 56 to a binder, such as apertures 66 aligned adjacent to the paper edge 64 for cooperating with a ringed or spiral binding of an album cover for being retained thereby in conventional manner. For one example of the bi-directional page 56, the width or horizontal dimension of the two plastic sheets was 6¼ inches and the height or vertical dimension was 13½ inches.

[0029] The respective right edges of the plastic sheets 60, 62 are aligned and secured together, such as by a weld-seal along their right edges 63 (as shown by the weld-seal 20 in FIGS. 4 and 5). Preferably, however, the first and second sheets 60, 62 may comprise a single rectangular plastic sheet folded along a fold line represented at 68 (FIGS. 6 and 7) resulting in the two sheets 60, 62 secured to one another along their right edges 63 (i.e. along the fold line 68). The horizontal lower or bottom edges 67 of the plastic sheets 60, 62 are aligned and secured together such as by weld-seal 69.

[0030] The sheets 60, 62 are further secured together along their respective upper or top edges 71, such as by the two weld-seals 70, 72. The seal 70 extends from aligned left edges 74 of the plastic sheets 60, 62, and the seal 72 extends from the right edge seal or fold 68, the facing ends 76, 78 of the respective seals 70, 72 being spaced apart by a distance slightly greater than the height dimension h′ of the panoramic print 12 (FIG. 1b) so as to provide a first top or upper opening 80 between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58, and a second top or upper opening 82 between the first plastic sheet 60 and the intermediate paper sheet 58, with the length (i.e. their width as viewed in the drawing of FIG. 6) of the two top openings 80, 82 being slightly greater than the height dimension h′ of the photo print 12.

[0031] The two plastic sheets 60, 62 are further secured together by two horizontal weld-seals 84 through respective apertures 85 in the paper sheet 58. Each seal 84 is in proximity of the plastic sheets' left edges 74 and each seal 84 has a right end 86 vertically aligned with the right end 76 of the left upper edge seal 70. The vertical separation between the left upper edge seal 70 and the first or upper weld-seal 84, between the two weld-seals 84, and between the second or lower weld-seal 84 and the lower edge seal 69, in each case is slightly greater than the height h of the conventional print 10 (FIG. 1a), providing a first side opening 88 between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58 (as well as another first side opening 88 between the first plastic sheet 60 and the intermediate paper sheet 58) of length slightly greater than the height h of the photo print 10. Similarly, the vertical separation between the two weld-seals 84 is slightly greater than the height h of the photo print 10, providing a second side opening 90 between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58 (as well as another second side opening 90 between the first plastic sheet 60 and intermediate paper sheet 58) of length slightly greater than the height h of the photo print 10. Finally, the vertical separation between the second or lower horizontal seal 84 and the lower edge seal 69 is slightly greater than the height h of the photo print 10, providing a third side opening 92 between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58 (as well as another third opening 92 between the first plastic sheet 60 and the intermediate paper sheet 58) of length slightly greater than the height h of the photo print 10.

[0032] Horizontally aligned with the respective seals 84 are horizontal weld-seals 94, securing the first and second plastic sheets 60, 62 to one another through respective apertures 95 in the paper sheet 58. The respective left ends 96 of the horizontal seals 94 are vertically aligned with the left end 78 of the right upper edge seal 72. Accordingly, a panoramic print 12 may be inserted between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58 through the top opening 80, with the height dimension h′ of the panoramic print 12 passing and contained between facing weld-seal ends 86 and 96. In addition, a second panoramic print 12 may be inserted between the first plastic sheet 60 and the intermediate paper sheet 58 through the top opening 82, with the height dimension h′ of the second panoramic print 12 passing and contained between facing weld-seal ends 86 and 96.

[0033] As many as six conventional size prints may be stored and displayed on the page 56. A first conventional size print 10 may be inserted between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58, through the appropriate first side opening 88, with the print's height dimension h being contained between the upper edge seals 70, 72 and the two upper horizontal seals 84, 94; a second conventional size print 10 may be inserted between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58, through the appropriate second side opening 90, with the print's height dimension h being contained between the two upper horizontal seals 84, 94 and the two lower horizontal seals 84, 94; and a third conventional size print 10 may be inserted between the second plastic sheet 62 and the intermediate paper sheet 58, through the appropriate third side opening 92, with the print's height dimension h contained between the lower horizontal seals 84, 94 and the lower edge seal 69. Similarly, three additional conventional size prints may be inserted between the first plastic sheet 60 and the intermediate paper sheet 58, through the appropriate side openings 88, 90, 92 along the left edge 74 of the first plastic sheet 60.

[0034] The left margin 98 of the paper sheet 58 may be used for writing or printing notations thereon corresponding to the photo prints contained on the page 56.

[0035] In one manner of fabricating the bi-directional page 56, a single plastic sheet having a height equal to the height of each of the plastic sheets 60, 62 and a width of twice the width of each of the two plastic sheets 60, 62, is folded along its length midway its width to produce the fold line 68. The upper weld-seals 70, 72 and the lower edge seal 69 are produced by thermal welding techniques well known in the plastics fabrication art. Although other plastic materials may be used, polypropylene is a preferred material, and the seals may be produced by such processes as conventional ultrasonic welding, or by thermocontact welding such as taught in U.S. Pat. No. 5,312,507 incorporated herein by reference. If desired, a notch 100 may be cut along the upper edge of the plastic sheets 60, 62, between the facing ends 76, 78 of the respective upper edge seals 70, 72.

[0036] The paper sheet 58 is provided with edge apertures 66, and with the four apertures 85, 96 situated for registration with the four horizontal welds 84, 94 to be subsequently formed. The paper sheet 58 may also be provided with a notch 102 for registration with the notch 100 of the plastic sheets 60, 62. The paper sheet 58 is inserted in the pocket formed by the folded and edge-welded plastic sheets 60, 62, with the paper sheet's right edge 104 preferably against the plastic sheets' fold line 68. The four horizontal seals 84, 94 are then produced, by welding the two plastic sheets 60, 62 to each other through the apertures 85, 95, by conventional welding techniques.

[0037] The fourth preferred embodiment of a bi-directional page 56′ shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 is similar to the page 56 of FIGS. 6 and 7, except as noted below, and similar reference numerals are used in FIGS. 9 and 10 to identify components similar to those in FIGS. 6 and 7. The page 56′ is configured to horizontally hold two conventional width photographs or vertically hold one extra-width photograph, on each side of the captured intermediate paper sheet 58. This is accomplished by providing only one weld seal 84 and one corresponding weld seal 94, so that only two side openings 88, 92 are provided between the paper sheet 58 and each of the transparent plastic sheets 60, 62. The side openings 88 extend between the top edges 71 of the respect plastic sheets 60, 62 and the horizontally aligned weld seals 84, 94, and the side openings 92 extend between the bottom edges 67 of the respective plastic sheets 60, 62 and the horizontally aligned weld seals 84, 94. For one example of the bi-directional page 56′, the width or horizontal dimension of the two plastic sheets 60, 62 was 7{fraction (5/16)} inches and the height or vertical dimension was 8{fraction (5/16)} inches.

[0038] A plurality of pages 56′ may be secured to a binder by providing apertures (not shown) aligned adjacent to the paper edge 64 for cooperating with a ringed or spiral binding of an album cover, or alternatively the pages 56′ may glue-bonded to the spine of an album cover along the left edges 64 of the intermediate paper sheets 58, in conventional manner. The left margins 98 of the paper sheets 58 may be used for writing or printing notations thereon corresponding to the photo prints contained on the page 56′.

[0039] Thus, there has been described preferred embodiments of bi-directional plastic pages for photograph albums, wherein conventional width photographic prints may be side-loaded onto the page with their width dimension horizontally disposed and wherein extra-width or panoramic photographic prints may be top-loaded on the page with their width dimension vertically disposed. Other embodiments of the present invention, and variations of the embodiments described herein, may be developed without departing from the essential characteristics thereof. Accordingly, the invention should be limited only by the scope of the claims listed below.





 
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