The Crankie Factory

A 19th Century Moving Panorama Survives!

Departure from Tower Bridge. Photo used with permission.

LONDON TO HONG KONG IN TWO HOURS - I am thrilled to see this 19th century moving panorama on a website. Thanks to David Brill for the time and effort to document his family treasure. The moving panorama is "crankie-sized" and was painted around 1860 by David's great-great grandfather, John Lamb primus, and his son, John Lamb secundus. Read more about it here.

What's a Crankie?

Sue Truman in the cabin. Original photo by Doug Plummer. Then digitized!

Hello! I am a fiddler, guitarist, stepdancer and crankie artist living in Seattle, Washington.  A crankie is an old storytelling art form.   It's a long illustrated scroll that is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box which has a viewing screen.  The scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told. It can be accompanied by a narrative, song or tune.   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 19th Century, they were called moving panoramas (among many other names).  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 HISTORY 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 exploring 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 I am posting a lot on Instagram under the clever name of SueTruman1050.


Festival du Bois, March 23rd-25th, 2018, in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The group PODORYTHMIE will be there giving a crankie workshop and crankie performances. Stay tuned for details and the schedule! Can't wait!!

Learn about the Chautagua Writing Desk in the Educational Scrolling Boxes and Blackboards page.

THE HISTORY SECTION! 17 pages of mostly 19th century moving panoramas.  I am busy working on new pages and updating old pages. 




Thank you to Errki Hutamo, Russell Potter, Suzanne Wray, Jeffrey RugglesPeter Morelli and everyone who has shared their research with me. 

Louis Leger testing one of his crankie kits.

BUY A CRANKIE KIT!  My good friend and fellow crankster Louis Leger has sold over 100 Crankie kits to artists all over the world.

ETSY SHOP LINK HERE More information  here!

Just as an aside, I am not receiving any funds, I just want folks to have a crankie box!



Meg Chittenden

MAKE A CRANKIE  This section is for those setting out to make your first crankie.  It's a compilation of pictures and tips from various artists:

  • how to make a crankie box
  • material choices for the scroll
  • designing the crankie scroll
  • illuminating the box


This is the attic of Mckenzie Elizabeth Ditter's dollhouse crankie. To watch the video, click on the DOLLHOUSE CRANKIE PAGE to the left.

WATCH A CRANKIE - Over 100 videos of crankies from artists around the world.  Many thanks for sharing your wonderful work!

Illusions in Motion was rated "essential" by the American Library Association.

Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles the book by Professor Erkki Huhtamo.  If you are interested in learning about the history of moving panoramas THIS IS IT!  Check out Erkki's website

WATCH ERKKI'S NEW VIDEO  about magic lanterns, the first in a series.



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