Information wheels—or volvelles—have been used since the 14th century to measure, record and calculate everything from verb conjugation to birth control biorhythms. From circular slide rules to Captain Marvel decoders, these unique artifacts are not only amusing but offer a model for modern interactive design.
From the golden age of celestial cartography to more contemporary applications of both language and form, Volvelles demonstrates both the astonishing range and remarkable utility of these ingenious “interactive” tools.
I’ve just picked up a wonderful book on volvelles – Reinventing The Wheel by Jessica Helfland.
I’ve used volvelles for years without realising that’s what they were called. As an amateur astronomer I regularly used (and still have) a type of volvelle called a planisphere which can be held overhead and rotated to located major features in the night sky.
For anyone who enjoys the graphical representation of information and ingenious analog devices, this book is a must see.
I’ve even located a downloadable volvelle tool which I intend to use to create a few of my own.