Title:
Portable display, storage and transport case
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A unique design for portable cases for the display of art, craft and trade objects is described. The design is for portable display cases that are multi-functional and more useful to the artisan than existing art display techniques. The portable display cases are durable, lightweight, and are capable of easy placement into multiple arrays. They can be finished in a variety of attractive appearances to better feature the displayed object and match the needs of the user. Furthermore the portable display cases can be nested for ease of transport, they are stackable for appearance and they can be made fire retardant. Finally and of additional importance to the user, they can be used to store and transport the items meant for display. This design feature effectively reduces the risk of theft or damage to the art, craft or trade objects during transport or storage. Finally the manufacture of the cases is simple, inexpensive and customizable to meet the needs of the user.



Inventors:
Steedly, John W. (Charlottesville, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/715299
Publication Date:
08/05/2004
Filing Date:
11/17/2003
Assignee:
STEEDLY JOHN W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F3/14; B44D3/00; (IPC1-7): A47B96/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PEDERSEN & COMPANY, PLLC (BOISE, ID, US)
Claims:
1. A method for storing, transporting or displaying an art object, comprising: a) providing a display case comprising: upper, lower, front, rear and side elements, wherein at least said lower, front, rear and side elements of the display case are composed of polystyrene foam, wherein said lower element connects to said front, rear and side elements along the bottom edge of said front, rear and side elements, wherein said front, rear and side elements connect to one another along the vertical edges of said front, rear and side elements, wherein said lower, front, rear and side elements form a container capable of storing items for display, and wherein said upper element forms a removable lid that fits within said front, rear and side elements and wherein said lid contains a top surface capable of holding displayed items; and b) storing, transporting or displaying said art object on or within said display case.

2. A method for storing, transporting, or displaying one or more art objects comprising: a) providing a display case system comprised of a plurality of display cases, wherein the display cases are of increasing size, and wherein smaller sized display cases are of a dimension such that they are capable of being stored inside larger sized display cases, and wherein the display cases are capable of being attached to each other to form a single display unit, and wherein each display case is comprised of upper, lower, front, rear and side elements, wherein at least said lower, front, rear and side elements of the display case are composed of polystyrene foam, wherein said lower element connects to said front, rear and side elements along the bottom edge of said front, rear and side elements, where said front, rear and side elements connect to one another along the vertical edges of said front, rear and side elements, where said lower, front, rear and side elements form a container capable of storing items for display, wherein said upper element forms a removable lid that fits within the front, rear and side elements, and wherein said lid contains a top surface capable of holding displayed items, and b) storing at least one smaller display case inside at least one larger sized display case, and c) transporting, storing or displaying the one or more art objects on or within the display case system 18. The method of claim 16 further comprising the steps of adhesively bonding said front, rear, side and bottom elements.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the front, rear and side wall elements are connected to one another using rabbet joints cut at least one-half inch into the vertical edge of said front, rear and side elements and where said rabbet joints are secured using an adhesive.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one of the side or rear elements contains hook and loop connectors to enable a plurality of cases to be attached to each other in a plurality of configurations and further comprising the step of hook and loop attaching a plurality of cases to each other.

5. A method according to claim 1, wherein step b) comprises displaying said art objection or within the display case.

6. A method according to claim 2, wherein step b) is displaying the one or more art objects, and step b) is accomplished by: c) removing at least one respectively smaller display case from at least one respectively larger display case, d) attaching the cases to each other to form a single display system having display cases of varying size, and e) displaying art objects on or within the display system.

7. A method according to claim 1, wherein step b) comprises storing and transporting the art object, and wherein step b) is accomplished by storing said art object inside the display case, and transporting said display case with said stored art object.

8. A method according to claim 2, wherein step b) is storing and transporting one or more art objects, and wherein step b) is accomplished by placing a first display case within a second larger sized display case, and placing said second larger sized display case containing said stored first display case within a third largest sized display case, and transporting or storing the stacked display cases.

9. A display case system, comprising: a) a plurality of display cases, wherein the display cases are of increasing size, and wherein smaller sized display cases are of a dimension such that they are capable of being stored inside larger sized display cases, and wherein the display cases are capable of being attached to each other to form a single display unit, and wherein each display case is comprised of upper, lower, front, rear and side elements, wherein at least said lower, front, rear and side elements of the display case are composed of polystyrene foam, wherein said lower element connects to said front, rear and side elements along the bottom edge of said front, rear and side elements, wherein said front, rear and side elements connect to one another along the vertical edges of said front, rear and side elements, wherein said lower, front, rear and side elements form a container capable of storing items for display, wherein said upper element forms a removable lid that fits within the front, rear and side elements, and wherein said lid contains a top surface capable of holding displayed items.

10. The display case system according to claim 9 wherein the front, rear and side elements are covered with carpet or a fire retardant fabric.

11. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein at least one of the side or rear elements contains hook and loop connectors to enable multiple display cases to be attached to each other in a plurality of configurations.

12. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein the upper, lower, front, rear and side elements are R5 polystyrene foam of a thickness of about one inch to about two inches, and where said top surface is selected from the group comprising plastic laminate, plywood, wood paneling, and slab stock comprised of methacrylate resin.

13. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein said front, rear, side and bottom elements are adhesively bonded.

14. The display case system according to claim. 10, wherein at least one of the side or rear elements contains hook and loop connectors to enable a plurality of cases to be attached to each other in a plurality of configurations and wherein a plurality of cases are hook and loop attached to each other.

15. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein said bottom element is connected to said front, rear and side wall elements using dado joints wherein said dado joints have a depth selected from the group comprising about one-half inch, about one inch or about one and one-half inches, a width of about one inch and wherein said dado joints are cut about one inch from the bottom edges of said front, rear and side elements.

16. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein said front, rear and side elements are covered with carpet.

17. The display case system according to claim 16, wherein said carpet is fire retardant.

18. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein said front, rear and side elements are covered with fabric.

19. The display case system according to claim 18, wherein said fabric is fire retardant.

20. The display case system according to claim 10, wherein said lower, front, rear and side elements are substantially rectangular and said upper and lower elements are substantially square.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED PARENT APPLICATION

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/859,267, filed May 17, 2001, Portable Display and Storage Case, which case claims the benefits under 35 U.S.C. 19(e) of provisional patent application serial No. 60/204,921 filed on May 17, 2000.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to the field of portable display cases, and particularly, portable display cases that are durable and lightweight, that are capable of easy placement into multiple arrays, that can be manufactured in a variety of attractive appearances, that can be nested for compact storage and easier transport, that can be stackable for appearance, that can be made fire retardant and that can be used to store and transport the items meant for display.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

[0003] Display cases are well known in the art. Many types and users of display cases exist. One example of their use includes people who display merchandise at trade shows and art fairs. These users must carry their merchandise from show to show and often set up their display cases for only short times. Numerous trade shows, antique fairs, and flea markets are held in the U.S. each year attracting thousands of exhibitors and customers. Exhibitors desire to set up their displays quickly and efficiently and to secure their merchandise from damage. Exhibitors also prefer to have their merchandise attractively displayed. When floor space is expensive or limited, exhibitors wish the best display and layout possible for the space provided and for the items displayed.

[0004] Some display cases are simply lightweight shelves, which can be modified to create an attractive appearance or to display specific types of merchandise. These provide little security and may not be sufficiently stable to display fragile merchandise. When fashioned to provide stability, they become too heavy for easy travel. Other display cases come in the form of fixed wall cases with a hinged glass or plastic top which lifts up so that objects can be placed in and/or removed therefrom. The tops of these can be locked so that the merchandise within the case is attractively displayed and viewed easily by potential customers. This type of display case is frequently heavy, difficult to transport and provides a limited amount of display area. Larger cases made of glass or other transparent material can provide additional shelves for the display of merchandise but are difficult to move as they are heavy and take up a great deal of space. Furthermore, although these cases can be locked for some level of security, the items contained within remain visible during transport making them prone to “smash and grab” opportunistic theft.

[0005] Other types of display cases with knock-down construction have been developed. These include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,553,680 to Griggs and U.S. Pat. No. 5,004,303 to Conway. In such display cases, the top and sides can be separated from one another and the case, once dismantled, is collapsible, taking up much less space. Another display case of knock-down construction is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,002,233 to Page. While these are generally easy to transport, they don't provide effective storage capability or security for the displayed merchandise and are perceived as less rigid or permanent and therefore less desirable for heavier merchandise. Furthermore, they necessitate both a break down and set up step for their transport and use; this is inconvenient for users who are traveling to many trade shows.

[0006] Portable containers or cabinets, including portable or collapsible cabinets, are also known. U.S. Pat. No. 3,580,650 to Morris discloses a portable cabinet structure of molded plastic for housing electronic equipment. These are generally permanent structures, however, and they can be very heavy, reducing their mobility. Furthermore, they can appear to be of poor quality subjecting the merchandise to a bias because of such poor display. When they are made completely of transparent materials, the merchandise is visible while being transported, leaving the merchandise open to opportunistic theft. These containers are often not fire retardant and can cause damage to the displayed merchandise and its surroundings if they are exposed to fire.

[0007] With the limitations of these designs in place, the invention disclosed herein provides for a portable display case which is permanent and non-collapsible and provides a light weight, a professional appearance, the ability to stack or nest different sized cases together for ease of storage, can be made of fire retardant materials and can store the displayed merchandise securely within the case itself to reduce visibility and reduce the potential for opportunistic theft.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The instant invention is an improved portable display case for the display of merchandise such as art objects, antiques and the like. It is constructed of lightweight materials for easy transport. The display case can be nested or different sized cases can be placed within one another for improved storage and transport. Several display cases can be stacked to increase the number of possible display arrangements. The display case is constructed to provide long-term storage for merchandise and for security during transport of the merchandise. It provides a professional appearance for merchandise on display. It is made from durable materials to maintain stability and increase lifetime and it is preferably made of fire retardant materials to improve safety. Multiple display cases can be arranged to provide a pleasing setup and to match the dimensions of the display area.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a cut away side view of the disclosed display case with an art object displayed;

[0010] FIG. 2 is a cut away side view of the disclosed display case with an art object stored inside.

[0011] FIG. 3 is an exploded side view of the preferred embodiment of the disclosed display case;

[0012] FIG. 4 is a side view of a smaller display cases placed in a display case of the next size; and

[0013] FIG. 5 is a top view of a molded display case with the covering removed and with another display case stored inside.

[0014] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a dado joint.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a rabbet joint.

[0016] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a box within a box design, showing an article within the inner box, and an outercovering around the outer box.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0017] The invention is a portable display case to professionally display merchandise at trade shows, antique/collectible shows, flea markets, fairs, traveling museums, etc. The display case is a box having a polygon shape, such as a rectangle or a square.

[0018] In a preferred use, FIG. 1 shows a cutaway view of the display case with an art object 100 displayed atop. The case is comprised of top 102, front 104, right side 106, rear 108, left side (not shown) and bottom 110 elements. These elements are composed of a lightweight material such as R5 Styrofoam or other rigid insulating materials. One inch R5 sheeting is preferred for display cases with smaller dimensions while two inch R5 sheeting is preferred for larger display cases. Other sizes of the sheeting are possible. The bottom 110, front 104, rear 108, right side 106 and left side (not shown) elements are permanently attached together using an appropriate securing method applicable to the material of manufacture. These can include adhesives and/or nails or screws to further secure these elements. The top 102 element is removable to expose space for storage of merchandise as shown in FIG. 2 or for nesting of one or more smaller display cases. In a preferred embodiment, the top 102 element contains a top cover 112 comprised of a lightweight material such as plywood, wood paneling, plastic laminate or Corian® to enhance the stability of the displayed item and to improve the appearance of the display platform. This top cover 112 rests flush along the top edge of the front 104, rear 108, right side 106 and left side (not shown) elements. An optional wall covering 114 of carpet, fabric or another appropriate lightweight material can be added to further enhance the aesthetic appearance of the display case. This wall covering is preferably of a fire retardant material.

[0019] The use of the display case to store items is shown in the exploded view of FIG. 2. The case contains top 202, front 206, right side 204, rear 208, left side (not shown) and bottom 210 elements as well as the top covering 212 and wall covering 214. The art object 200 is placed inside the case for storage and/or transport. Styrofoam peanuts, paper, bubble wrap or other suitable packing materials can be included inside the display case to further protect the art object 200.

[0020] Shown in greater detail in the exploded side view of FIG. 3, the display case is comprised of top 308, bottom 316, front (not shown), rear 318 and side 312, 314 wall elements. These elements are composed of a lightweight material such as R5 Styrofoam or other rigid insulating materials. One inch R5 sheeting is preferred for display cases with smaller dimensions, one and one-half inch R5 sheeting is preferred for intermediate sized cases while two inch R5 sheeting is preferred for larger display cases. The top element 308 contains a top cover 310 comprised of a lightweight material such as plywood, wood paneling, plastic laminate or Corian® to enhance the stability of the displayed item and to improve the appearance of the display platform. The bottom 316, front, rear 318 and side 312, 314 wall elements are permanently attached together using an appropriate securing method applicable to the material of manufacture. These can include adhesives and/or nails or screws to further secure these elements. The top 308 element with attached top covering 308 is removable to expose space for storage of merchandise or, as illustrated in FIG. 4, for nesting of one or more smaller display cases comprised of an appropriately smaller sized top 408, top covering 410, bottom 416, front (not shown), rear 418 and side 412, 414 wall elements within the wall elements 312, 314, 316 of the first display case. Merchandise can be further protected by the addition of tissue, bubble wrap, packing foam, etc. The wall elements of the display case can be of any width applicable to the items being display, for example twenty-two inches and twenty-four inches are common for pottery and stoneware. Heights of the front, rear and side wall elements of the display case are generally less than eight feet, and heights beyond eight feet can require additional reinforcement depending upon the material of manufacture. Heights in the range of four to six feet are common and units can be stacked whereby display cases less than four feet in height can be stacked on other display cases, tables or shelves to achieve an optimal display height. The thickness of the wall elements is dependent on the size of the display case and is generally between one and three inches.

[0021] In order to improve appearance of the display cases, the front, rear and side wall elements can be covered with carpet or other fabric materials or manufacture in a faux pattern, depending upon the material of manufacture. When carpet or fabrics are used, it is preferable that the materials be fire retardant. These coverings can be secured using adhesives, such as 3M Insulation 78 spray adhesive or Elmers Pro Brand polyurethane glue, or other securing devices such as dry wall nails, dry wall screws or another lightweight nail. The removable top preferably contains a top covering 310 composed of Corian®, finished plywood, wood paneling or plastic laminate and an interior top section 308, having external dimensions equal or are slightly less than the internal dimensions of the front, rear 318 and side 312, 314 wall elements of the display case. This interior top section 308 is centered and adhered to the bottom side of the top covering 310. This interior section 308 prevents the top from being unintentionally slid off the case while the top covering 310 gives the displayed item a stable platform and can provide a visually pleasing display surface. Other methods, such as latches, etc., can be used to secure the top to the side wall elements and will be evident to those skilled in the art.

[0022] To improve the user's ability to position the display cases and create a desirable overall display, a hook and loop connector such as sold under the trademark Velcro®, or other means for reversible attaching two or more display cases together, can be added to the wall elements and preferably to the rear wall elements. This can include strips or swatches of Velcro®, placed so that the display cases can be aligned into a preferred display arrangement and attached together securely to prevent inadvertent movement.

[0023] In one embodiment, the bottom, front, rear and side wall elements are comprised of one inch thick Styrofoam brand residential foam insulation (Dow) or R5. The front and rear wall elements are approximately twenty-one inches across by four feet high and the side wall elements are approximately twenty-two inches across by four feet high. The bottom wall element is approximately twenty-two inches across on each side and uses roughly a one half inch deep, one inch wide, dado joint approximately one inch from the bottom of the wall elements to connect to the wall elements. A dado is illustrated in FIG. 6 and is defined as a rectangular groove cut into a board so that a like piece may be fitted into it and as the groove so cut. The definition is from American Heritage Talking Dictionary. Copyright © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc.

[0024] The wall elements are connected by a rabbet connection cut approximately one half inch into the vertical edge of each side, front and rear wall element. A rabbet is illustrated in FIG. 7 and is defined as a cut or groove along or near the edge of a piece of wood that allows another piece to fit into it to form a join and the joint so made. The definition is excerpted from American Heritage Talking Dictionary. Copyright © 1997 The Learning Company, Inc.

[0025] The dado joint described above is a rectangular channel cut across the face of the wall element. It is commonly used to house the end of an adjoining board. If can also be referred to as a groove depending on whether the cut is with or against the grain of wall elements. Dadoes and grooves are made using the same general techniques. Both offer increased glue surface area over butt joints, help in alignment and provide increased mechanical strength.

[0026] The rabbet joint described above is essentially an open-sided dado on the edge of a wall element. The resultant notch, or step, is a useful joint for cabinet or box corners, and also serves to house recessed components such as cabinet backs, panels, glass and mirrors. Both rabbet and dado joints are well known in the art and are commonly used for a variety of products.

[0027] The joint connections are glued together using polyurethane glue or the like. Dry wall nails can be added to hold the assembled wall elements together while the glue dries. These nails can be removed after the glue dries. The external membrane found on the R5 is removed and a spray adhesive, such as 3M insulation 78 or the like, is applied to the outside surface of the front, rear and side wall elements. A fire retardant wall carpet, including Front Runner brand is cut to cover the front, rear and side wall elements and attached. The top element is slab stock made from methacrylate resin and sold under the trademark Corian® is cut to match the outside dimensions of the assembled display case. One inch thick, rigid polystyrene foam, commonly called Styrofoam, is centered and glued to the bottom side of the top element such that the outer dimensions of said Styrofoam match the internal dimensions of the assembled bottom, front, rear and side wall elements.

[0028] In an alternate embodiment, the bottom, front, rear and side wall elements are comprised of two inch thick Styrofoam brand residential foam insulation (Dow) or R5. Equivalent rigid styrene foam blocks, or panels can be used. The front and rear wall elements are twenty-four inches across by five feet high and the side wall elements are fifteen inches across by five feet high. The bottom wall element is twenty-three inches by fifteen inches across on the sides and uses a one and one-half inch deep, one-inch wide dado joint approximately one inch from the bottom of the wall elements to connect to the wall elements. The wall elements are connected by a rabbet connection cut one and one half inches into the vertical edge of each side, front and rear wall element. They are glued together using polyurethane glue or the like. Lightweight screws are added to hold the assembled wall elements together while the glue dries. These screws are removed after the glue dries. A spray adhesive (3M insulation 78) is applied to the outside surface of the front, rear, and side wall elements. The external membrane found on the R5 is removed and a fire retardant wall carpet, cut to cover the front, rear and side wall elements, is attached. The top element is cultured marble cut to match the outside dimensions of the assembled display case. One inch thick Styrofoam is glued to the bottom side of the top element such that the outer dimensions of said Styrofoam match the internal dimensions of the assembled bottom, front, rear and side wall elements.

[0029] The embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5 has been molded into the desired form rather than being designed from sheets glued together. An interior display case 506 has been placed within the exterior display case 502, providing a small clearance 504 between the two display cases.

[0030] In another embodiment, three display cases are produced using one and one-half inch R5 Styrofoam, the first case with external dimensions of twenty-four inches across by five feet high on the sides. The case is assembled as described above. Carpet and plywood are used for the external appearance of the walls and top respectively. The second case has external dimensions of twenty-one inches across by four and three-quarters feet high on the side elements. The case is also assembled as described above. Carpet and plywood are again used for the external appearance. The second case is designed to be stackable on top of or nested inside the first. The third case has external dimensions of eighteen inches across by four and one half feet high on the side elements. The case is assembled as described above. Carpet and plywood are again used for the external appearance. The third case is designed to be stackable on top of or nested inside the second. Additional cases can be stacked as desired and additional designs for stack-ability can be produced such that ease of transport of empty display cases is afforded.

[0031] FIG. 6 shows a dado joint 322 with the dada groove being cut into the bottom panel 316. FIG. 7 shows a rabbet joint 722 formed in both the bottom and side panels. Alternatively, the rabbet joint can be form in either the bottom panel or the side panel, though the use of a pair of rabbet joints is preferred.

[0032] FIG. 8 illustrates a box-within-a-box design and shows an object 808 within the inner box. The outer covering 800 can be a methacrylate slab, of the type sold under the trademark Corian, or carpeting. In one embodiment the sides can be carpeted and the top formed of plywood or polymeric resin, and in another embodiment, the use of carpeting and a hard surface material can be reversed. The use of a hard surface material on the top 802 of the box is preferred because it provides a superior support surface. The inner box can be of the same design or of an alternate design.

[0033] The preceding examples are provided for descriptive purposes solely and are not meant to limit the embodiments of the invention. Other configurations of the portable display case will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.