Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I have quite a few small collections of things, but the one that I seem to have the most fun with is my collection of volvelles. Volvelles are also called circular charts, slidable information wheels, information rotating wheels or wheel charts. I think they are a wonderful interway to present information.

I thought I was alone for my love of volvelles until Jessica Helfand came out with her book, Reinventing the Wheel:Volvelles, Equatoria, Planispheres, Fact-Finders, Gestational Charts .. Helfand donated her collection of 371 volvelles to the Yale Arts Library. Here is the finding aid to the collection. (It's in PDF)

Here are some wonderful examples of volvelles from an exhibition at the Grolier Club.

A grammar/punctuation volvelle.

Here is a list of the volvelles I have collected. Maybe I'll be able to reach 300 some day.

1.50 States of the United States (Wonder Bread)
2.101 Civil War Battles with Union & Confederacy, Dates of Battles
3.Care First Blue Cross/Blue Shield Physical Fitness Wheel
4.Citigate Mortgage Payment Calculator
5.Dog Breeds (in Russian)
6.Eating Smart Restaurant Guide
7.Encore Travel Planner
8.Expo 67
10.Guide to U.S. Warships (Wonder Bread)
11.Investment Planner
12.John Welsh Grocery Store/Aunt Jane’s Secretary
13.Johnson’s Wax Calendar Wheel (1958-1985) (this is a very tiny metal wheel)
14.Know Your USA and the 48 States (Wonder Bread)
15,Merriman Brothers Speed Indicator
16.Mortgage Payment Calculator
18.Pocket Color Wheel
19.Putnam Benefit Calculator
20.Scandinavian Winners of the Nobel Prize
21.Seagate Disc Products for Personal Storage
22.U.S. Pollen Predictor Wheel
23.Warner Swasey Company Pin Drafter
24.Whitsinville Ring Company Diamond Finish Rings Count Inicator
25.Wildlife Spotter
26.Wine and Food Matching Wheel

"No, Watson, this was not done by accident, but by design." Sherlock Holmes


Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. Libby,

A new word for me, delighted it is such a good one. "Volvelle", what a delicious sounding word.

I like those spinny-word chart thingies too but never knew they had a name. A lot of foreign language instruction kits have them, that is where I mostly have seen 'em.

You have an interesting collection started. Especially those dog breeds in Russian. Hope you are soon on your way to 300 volvelles too.

Joyce said...

Dear Libby-
I love coming to visit your blog. I always leave feeling just a little bit smarter than when I arrived. You blog about the most interesting things.

Libby said...

Hi Laundress and Joyce,
Thank you so much for your kind comments. I love dogs so the Russian dog breed volvelle is one of my favorites. Even though I can't read one word in Russian. Have a great weekend or week. Libby

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I'm both a collector and maker of volvelles. Want a few more to add to your collection? No charge. If interested, please email me from my web site. Thanks.