The Crankie Factory

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. You can do it!

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012

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


Panorama of the Visit of Santa Claus to the Happy Children is a toy moving panorama from the collection of Erkki Huhtamo, Media Archeologist, Historian, Exhibit Curator and Professor at UCLA. This toy panorama was made by the Milton Bradley Company around 1866.  Also included was a script, small tickets and a poster so that children could perform it at home. Many thanks to Erkki for sharing this very rare moving panorama with us!   Visit Erkki's new website to see more of his collection.

Anna and Elizabeth's Crankie Fest!  Jan. 24th, 2015 at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, MD.  Don't miss it if you are in that area - magic will be made. Here is their wonderful website

Behind the Scenes - Have you ever wondered what a crankie looks like from behind the box?  I did when I was starting out. Watch four videos of crankies/moving panoramas, from very small to very big!

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 then 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.

Crankie Fest - East Meets West - September 2014, Baltimore artist Katherine Fahey traveled to Seattle to visit family.  Well, this called for a crankie fest!  She joined creative forces with Dejah Leger, Sue Truman with the group Podorythmie and Gregory Johnson.  See pictures from the rehearsals and performance.

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.

ON-LINE CRANKIE FEST - Two new crankies added: When This World Comes to An End by  Brendan Taaffe of Brattleboro, VT and Jalan-Jalan Through Batuan by Sara Velas of Los Angeles, CA.  Check it out!

Polar Panoramas is a mix of historic information provided by historian and author Russell Potter (pictured here) and modern day interpretations of the artform from three artists.

Sometimes I Pretend is a scrolling book by Peter and Donna Thomas of Santa Cruz, CA. They are paper makers, book artists and authors. This is a limited edition (35 copies). The books are made of handmade paper, letter press printed with both metal and wood type and the box is wooden with wooden sprocket cranks.

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



Scottish Nationsl Antarctic Expedition 1902-1904
This crankie was first performed, Feb. 2014 at the Seattle Crankie Fest. Felt and fabric stitched to felt by Sue Truman. Narrated by Skye RIchendrfer and RIch Hill. A true story.