The Crankie Factory

A 19th Century Moving Panorama Survives!

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?

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

What's New?

Vermont Crankie Fest! Sat. Jan. 13th, 2018, 7:30-9:30 PM at the New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat Street. Brattleboro, VT. 

LINE UP: Brendan Taafe, Ellen Gozion, Mary Lauren Fraser & Kiah Raymond, Tony Barrand and me! Cool

This sells out every year so get your ticket ahead of time. Brown Paper Tickes link.

Please spread the word and thank you!

1849 broadside.

Purrington & Russell's Moving Panorama - Whaling Voyage Around the World - Mission accomplished! Congratulations to the New Bedford Whaling Museum for restoring the longest painting in the world.  A HUGE accomplishment.  Read the article World's Longest Painting Restored at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Read more at their website.  Events planned summer of 2018. Stay tuned for details.

Baltimore Crankie Fest! January 5th and 6th, 2018. Here is the Facebook event page. I went to the fest in 2016.  It was one of the most inspiring events I had ever attended.  It sells out.  Get your ticket soon!

Consider becoming a member!

International Panorama Council Conference was held at the Queens Museum in Queens, NY.  Sept. 29th to Oct. 1st, 2017. I presented! CoolCrankies: The Resurgence of Moving Panoramas in the 21st Century.   Here are a few of the artists and crankies I talked about.

Henry Box Brown was one of the most amazing moving panorama showman of the 19th century. Read about this incredible story in the history section!

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 Ruggles, Peter Morelli and everyone who has shared their research with me. 

Louis Leger testing one of his crankie boxes before shipping. The papercut scroll was made by his daughter-in-law, Dejah Leger.

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

ETSY SHOP LINK HERE Watch a video of Louis assembling a box here. More information about the kits here!

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



This is Meg Chittenden.

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:

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


Erkki also grows and roasts his own coffee. He uses a hand-cranked coffee grinder of course!

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

NEW VIDEO - about magic lanterns, the first in a series. Watch it here.



I am working on a new page about Hibernicons. In the meantime, here is a little video about them, enjoy! Sue Truman