Scope and Contents
Jessica Helfand, a graduate of the Yale School of Art Graphic Design Program (MFA ‘89) and a respected critic of visual culture, collected hundreds of examples of the volvelle format. In December of 2004, Helfand donated the collection to the Arts Library. Volvelles, or graphic wheels, are “various reckoning devices consisting of movable discs surmounted by or carrying other graduated or figured circles for calculating, for example, phases of the moon, the time of the rising or setting sun, or the times of the tides.”1 They are efficient tools for collating a large amount of information into a compact delivery device, yet have also been used purely for novelty. Topics of the volvelles range from astronomy to pop culture and fashion. Several, such as language and geographic wheels, serve as educational tools; others have more technical and scientific applications. The volvelles are made of a variety of materials including many forms of paper and card stock, plastic, metal, and leather. Helfand’s book, Reinventing the Wheel, which was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2002, served as the catalogue for an exhibition of the same title at The Grolier Club in New York City in the spring of 2004. The volume contains many of the volvelles that are a part of this collection, although some titles vary from those listed in this finding aid. Ms. Helfand also gave a number of books containing volvelles to the Library. The books are catalogued individually in Orbis, Yale’s online catalog, and can be found by conducting a Special Collections Subject search for “volvelle collection.” In addition to the volvelles, the collection contains one box of Helfand’s files relating to her book and to her Grolier Club exhibit.
1Art and Architecture Thesaurus. 2004. J. Paul Getty Trust. 1 August 2005. <http://www.getty.edu/research/conducting_research/vocabularies/aat/>.
- Helfand, Jessica (Collector)
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright has not been transferred to Yale University.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Jessica Helfand, 2004.
The volvelles are arranged alphabetically by title within various size categories. Each volvelle title has a unique number; pamphlets, brochures, etc. that accompany volvelles are filed under the number of the respective volvelle. A box listing of Helfand’s files follows the listing of the volvelles.
7.92 Linear Feet (19 boxes)
Language of Materials
Jessica Helfand, a graduate of the Yale School of Art Graphic Design Program (MFA ‘89) and a respected critic of visual culture, collected hundreds of examples of the volvelle format. In December of 2004, Helfand donated the collection to the Arts Library.
- Guide to the Volvelle Collection
- Compiled by Susan Brady and Arts Library Staff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.