The Crankie Factory

THE BALTIMORE CRANKIE FEST (4/12/2014) was a SOLD OUT SUCCESS1 Here's a picture of the organizers - Anna and Elizabeth. To see more pictures of this magical evening, scroll down near the bottom of this page under "What's New?" and click on the Baltimore Crankie Fest link.

19th Century Miniature Moving Panoramas

Erkki Huhtamo has given me the videos of the 19th Century moving panoramas that he showed at the Seattle Crankie Fest (2/23/2014). Extreme gratitude to Erkki for filming these very fragile and rare works of art from his collection and sharing them with us. To learn more about the history of moving panoramas, check out his book, Illusions in Motion.

Sue Truman

An Excursion Around the World
Manufactured by Joseph Walker and Co. of Birmingham, England. 1890s, from the collection of Erkki Huhtamo.
19th Century Miniature Moving Panorama
From England, creator unknown. Towards the end of the video, you can see there is a place inside the box for a candle and a hole in the top of the box for the smoke to escape. It's no wonder that few of these survived. From the collection of Erkki Huhtamo.
19th Century Japanese Kabuki
A most elaborate moving panorama from Japan, from the collection of Erkki Huhtamo.
The Myriopticon - A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion
From Milton Bradley & Co. 1868. This miniature moving panorama is about the American Civil War and was intended as a educational toy. It included a poster, tiny tickets, and a narrative so it could be performed at home. From the collection of Erkki Huhtamo.

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" page to see some of the ones I have made.  Click on "On-line Crankie Fest!" to watch  ones made by other artists across the country.


To watch moving panoramas that were made in the 19th Century, click on the "History" page.  There are videos of large and small panoramas that have been filmed by museums, historical societies and private collectors.  Click on "Moving Panoramas, Lg" and "Moving Panoramas,Sm" subpages to watch those.  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. There is no right or wrong here, you just do it and enjoy the process. 

Sue Truman

Created Sept. 3rd, 2012

What's New?

BALTIMORE CRANKIE FEST  The festival was organized by Anna and Elizabeth (Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle)  April 12th, 2014. See pictures from this magical evening.

The Vinegar Works February 15th – June 14th, 2014, every Saturday at 2:00pm & 4:00pm, The Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL. A puppet show (with scrolling backdrop) inspired by the art of Edward Gorey

This original staging is a toy theater production of Edward Gorey’s “three volumes of moral instruction,” The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Insect God, and The West Wing, by Chicago’s own Blair Thomas & Company. Inspired by the same Victorian spirit from which Gorey drew, these miniature paper theater productions faithfully render the macabre delight of these tiny parables.

TWO CRANKIE PERFORMANCES at the NW Folklife Festival in Seattle.  Sat. May 24th, 4:00 - 5:00 with Gaelic Crankie Show and Sun. May 25th, 4:00 - 5:00 with Podorythmie (getting ready for this should keep me out of trouble for a while) both performances at the Seattle Center Theatre.  Get there early to get a seat, hope to see you there. Details to follow.  Sue Truman

Crankies Made By Children - Teachers, parents, kids - check out these crankies made by children. 

Illusions in Motion a book by Prof. Erkki Huhtamo has gone into it's 2nd printing and has received the highest rating "Essential"  from the American Library Association.


The Painter's Panorama is a forthcoming book about the Pilgrims Progress moving panorama. A grant was awarded to the University Press of New England from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art to support development of the book.

Dejah Leger Seattle-based crankie artist and  musician created a crankie page on her website.


Anna and Elizabeth from Maryland and Virginia, have created a new crankie page on their wonderful website.


Joanna Hruby  British crankie artist Joanna Hruby has written a nice piece about crankies and moving panoramas for her ManyManyMoons website.


Earth Bike Banjo is an inspired group from Portland, OR.  Carrying the crankie box and banjo on their bikes, they are pedaling from Portland to San Luis Obispo, performing along the way!

Crow Black Chicken Papercut crankie by Kelsey Nelsen of Portland, OR - her first!

Tom Banjo  A wonderful interview with Burlington, VT, cartoonist/musician Tom Banjo who began making crankys in the 1970s after seeing the crankys of the Bread and Puppet Theater. The interview is from 2001.

International Panorama Council is for anyone interested in 19th and early 20th Century moving panoramas and stationary panoramas.  They provide a searchable data base of surviving 19th Century moving panoramas! Visit their website.


Crankies: Reinventing the Moving Panorama as Contemporary Folk Art  read about my trip to the International Panorama Council conference in Lucerne, Switzerland.