The Crankie Factory

Wishing you peace, love and gratitude.

What's a Crankie?

Hello! I am a fiddler, guitarist, stepdancer and crankie artist living in Seattle, Washington.  What exactly is a crankie?  It's a panoramic scene, rolled up inside a box, then hand-cranked so that it scrolls across a viewing screen.  If you haven't seen one before, then a picture (or video)  is worth a thousand words. You will find hours of viewing on this site.

The term crankie, is being used now to name this very old art form.  In the mid 19th Century, they were called moving panoramas (among other things).  This scrolling, picture art form is experiencing a bit of a comeback.  I am very excited to be a part of it.  This website attempts to connect the old (moving panoramas of the 19th Century) with the new (crankies being made now by artists in the US and beyond).


To watch new crankies: click on the WATCH A CRANKIE pageIn that section you will find crankies made by me and many other artists from the US and Europe. 


To watch moving panoramas that were made in the 19th Century, click on the "Moving Panorama" section.  There are videos of large and small panoramas that have been filmed by museums, historical societies and private collectors. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to those individuals working to restore and preserve this forgotten piece of our history.


I hope you enjoy looking around this site, AND, above all, I encourage you to make a crankie

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012

Find The Crankie Factory on FacebookYou Tube and you can follow me on Twitter at SueTruman1


BUY A CRANKIE KIT! I often get questions about where one can buy a wooden crankie box.  I asked my good friend and fellow crankie performer Louis Leger, if he would consider making wooden boxes to sell and he said yes!


Watch a video of Louis assembling a box here.

There is more information about the kits here. Just as an aside, I am not receiving any funds, I just want folks to be able to have a box to make crankies!! Yay!!


3rd Annual Baltimore Crankie Festival -  Friday, Jan. 8th - Sunday Jan. 10th - 2016 at The Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, Maryland.

Expanding into 2 full nights of pure magic and hosted, as always, by old time music and crankie masterminds, Anna & Elizabeth, this festival has become the premier event of its kind, exploring the many ways the hand cranked scroll puppet show known as a crankie, can be interpreted by artists from near and far.  I'M GOING!

Poetry and art: Bringing Keats to the Stage.  Read about John Lechner's new beautiful new crankie here.

"Cranking Out Some History"   Sam Bartlett, Artist in Residency, worked with elementary and middle school student to creat a cranky about a local, historic building, The Holland Theater in Bellefontaire, Ohio. Read about it here.  

See more crankies made by children on The Crankie Factory's "Made by Children" page.  And check out Sam's website

GEORAMA! Jan. 20th-Feb. 7th, 2016 in St. Louis, MO.   A world-premiere musical. In the mid 1800s, John Banvard created the first georama, a three-mile long scrolled painting celebrating the majesty of the Mighty Mississippi. Once a starving sketch artist, his creation catapulted him to a life of luxury and notoriety, but also brought competition and deception that threatened to push his passion to the wayside.

The crew are painting a 500 foot long moving panorama for the show, and it will move!! Can't wait to see this.  Stay tuned for details.

Book by West Hyler and Matt Schatz. Music and lyrics by Matt Schatz. Additional music and lyrics by Jack Herrick, Directed by West Hyler


An Exhibitor's Diary - 1855  A most remarkable document. This is the diary of a moving panorama showman who exhibited the Moving Panorama of California in New Hampshire and Maine from September to November 1855.  The moving panorama was transported by a horse drawn wagon.  This document comes from the collection of The Maine Historical Society via the Saco Museum and Peter Morelli.  Heartfelt thanks to all for making this available.

In Memoriam: Ralph Hyde 1939-2015 - He was one of the world's formost authorities on moving panoramas as well as stationary panoramas, maps, peep shows and other art forms of the past. The picture to the right shows Ralph in 1984 in London.   This obituary was written by Erkki Huhtamo, a long time friend and colleague, who expressed the loss  perfectly when he said "There is no one to take his place; personalities like Ralph simple do not appear any longer."

Make a Crankie!  This section is for those of you setting out to make your first crankie.  It's a compilation of pictures and tips from various artists. It's still a work in progress but there is a lot of information there to get you started.

WATCH A CRANKIE - This section of the website contains videos from crankie artists around the world.  The picture to the right is of Anna and Elizabeth's Lost Gander crankie.  It is the first crankie that I saw and still one of my favorites.

The Trans-Siberian Express at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900 - A fabulous article written by Arjan den Boer, published Nov. 2014, In 1900, at the Paris Universal Exposition, there were not one, but two moving panoramas of the Trans-Siberian Express. One of the moving panoramas painted by Pavel Piasetsky survives to this day and is housed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The picture is Pavel Piasetsky with his moving panorama. This is the most panoramic box ever!

Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley - From the St. Louis Art Museum, painted by John J. Egan, Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley, c.1850. Separate panels of this 1850s moving panorama are on display at the St. Louis Art Museum. The first  link is a time lapse video of a crew setting up one scene of the moving panorama.  Watch a video of the whole moving panorama here.

the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at:
After premiering at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at:
After premiering at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the Saint Louis Art Museum, on view from February 22–May 17, 2015. It closes in New York at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from June 15–September 20, 2015. - See more at:

Henry Box Brown  (1816-c.1889) was a Virginia slave who escaped to freedom by arranging to have himself shipped to Philadelphia abolitionists in a wooden box. He  went on to become a successful moving panorama showman in the US and then in England. 

Read about this truly remarkable story. Find out more in the book The Unboxing of Henry Brown by Jeffrey Ruggles.

Letter from an Unknown Women - A three minute excerpt from the 1948 movie. It shows a couple in an amusement park where they are taking the train ride.  The scenery that is passing by in the window is a bicycle powered moving panorama.

Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles by Prof. Erkki Huhtamo has gone into it's 2nd printing and has received the highest rating "Essential"  from the American Library Association. If you are interested in learning about the history of moving panoramas, this is it! AND, check out his new website



A child's moving panorama, made in 1866.
From the collection of Erkki Huhtamo, this miniature moving panorama was made by the Milton Bradley Company, around 1866. It came with a written narrative, tiny tickets and a poster to be performed in the home. To learn more about the history of moving panoramas, check out Erkki's book Illusions in Motion and visit his website