Niedringhaus’ Model of a Pallet Vault Storage System – ca 1953
This is a working model associated with U.S. Patent Number 2,709,547 issued to Marion W. Niedringhaus of Ladue, Missouri on May 31, 1955. The patent was for a container for storage and intra-warehouse transportation of household furnishings.
Mr. Niedringhaus noted that substantial costs were incurred by the then current practice of transferring furniture piece by piece between a moving van and a storage warehouse. His concept called for using modular containers (referred to as vaults) based on a pallet base which could be handled by standard forklifts. The standard size of a storage pallet was envisioned to be four by six feet on the base and six to nine feet tall. The design allowed various sizes and styles of furniture items to be stored in as little volume as possible in order to reduce warehousing charges. However, the primary benefit was the reduction in the number of forklift and dolly trips between the loading dock and the storage location in the warehouse. Another benefit was the ability to pack pallets closely and to be able to move one easily to get to others.
Two paperboard sheets preformed to the size and shape of the pallet surrounded the stacked furniture on the ends and sides. Rails on the pallet held the sheets firmly in place, and they overlapped in order to provide fully closed sides. A heavy paper bag fit over the top of the sheets and thus completed a neat, dust-proof enclosure. Mr. Niedringhaus described in detail how his pallet system would be used in a real warehouse environment. Individual components would be stored flat prior to use and could be assembled without use of special tools. He compared the relative advantages and cost savings of utilizing his system for storage relative to traditional methods.
A full description of the pallet vault along with complete diagrams of the patent can be found in the patent document online at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, /www.uspto.gov. At his death in 1966 Mr. Niedringhaus was Chairman of the General Van and Storage Company of St. Louis, Missouri. A 1958 Popular Mechanics Magazine article described that company’s development and use of a pallet vault based upon Mr. Niedringhaus’ design.
The model’s construction is of wood, paper and fabric and is a highly detailed representation of the patent’s concept. The model illustrates a complete pallet vault to include the base, paperboard side panels, and paper top. The top is labelled “Pallet Vault” with U.S. and Canadian patent numbers.
The model includes additional features not described in the patent. A rectangular wooden framework is added atop the pallet base. The frame is slightly smaller than the base so that the side panels can fit snugly around it. It is somewhat shorter than the side panels and has an additional set of side rails approximately halfway up. Wooden slats are arranged on the top and intermediate side rails to support two tiers of furniture. The slats can be set to allow chair seat bottoms to rest on them with the chair legs extending below. The model includes one sofa on the base and five chairs arranged on the upper tiers. The furniture is highly detailed including decorative fabric upholstery.