The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion - An antique toy panorama by Milton Bradley and Co. 1866

The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion by Milton Bradley and Co. 1866
The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion - An antique toy panorama by Milton Bradley and Co. 1866

Alternative Views:

The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion

Milton Bradley and Co. 1866

In the orig. printed box with front cut-out in the shape of a proscenium as issued. Open the box and you’ll find a reel of 22 printed, hand-painted scenes of the Civil War's most important events, featured on a paper scroll that is wound around two scroll tubes on either side of the box. The scroll is 15 feet long. The overall dimensions of the box are 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches.

Toy Theater box containing twenty-two colored illustrations of the Civil War. The lithographed and hand-colored images are printed on a continuous roll of paper attached to wooden rollers.

The box is in good sturdy condition. The bottom box is split on one corner - see photo. The label on the box cover has a torn away area - see photos. The scroll is in excellent condition.

Missing (as usual) but can be seen in the Yale University collection: This box originally came with wooden dowels on either end that could be wound up with a metal handle. It was also distributed with a set of "tickets to the show", a script booklet that the family patriarch would read from whilst turning the pictures, and a show bill advertising the production as the “Grand Artistic and Historical Exhibition,” of the “Great Rebellion.

Collector's Corner:

Milton Bradley (1836-1911) is a legend in the toy business. In 1866 Milton Bradley developed its first moving panorama toy, The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion. Bradley's passions came together in his The Myriopticon as well as his next panorama, the “Historiscope,” are beautifully illustrated toys meant to be a fun and educational tool for young children. Note: Unlike the Myriopticon, instead of creating the theater of the Great Rebellion, the Historiscope creates the theater of American history. These toys were a pre-cinema device marketed to children along the lines of the thaumatrope, the phenakistoscope, and the magic lantern. Old advertisements for The Myriopticon include words like “Just in Time For Christmas”, “moral, entertaining, wonderful, and instructive”, and as “immensely popular with boys,” especially those ages 7 to 12. The original price was $1.25.

The original instructions recommended that the “exhibition” take place in a dark room, with parlor curtains drawn around the box and a candle lit behind it to give the ambiance of a real theater. The broadside “respectfully” asked that the audience remain seated till the first scene rolled by. They also stated: “It is much better to have the lecture committed to memory than to read it, as then the facts are impressed upon the memory, and any other remarks can be mixed in, or the description varied to any extent, as long as the facts and dates are retained.”

The Myriopticon was created just two years after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. The designer was 30-year-old Milton Bradley, a draftsman, print-maker, and designer living in Springfield, Massachusetts. He had entered the game industry just prior to the Civil War. It was first advertised as "just in time for Christmas" in 1866, when Bradley ran an advertisement in Colman’s Rural World, a St. Louis-based publication for farmers

The Milton Bradley company history says that Bradley illustrated the images himself, basing them on iconic illustrations from magazines such as Harper's and books of the time. He also wrote the script. The toy is designed from a Union point of view as is evidenced by the use of the term "Rebellion".

The first scene in the miniature story has Major Robert Anderson and his troops entering Fort Sumter on Dec. 26, 1860, as they prepare to defend it against the Confederates. The images scroll on to battle and camp scenes. You see rebel prisoners, explosions, guns. We have the duel of the Monitor and Merrimack, steamboats on the Mississippi, “colored troops” entering Charleston, S.C.and more. The whole production finally ends with the evacuation and burning of Richmond

Among the images, Winslow Homer’s “Sharpshooter” as seen in Harper’s magazine on Nov. 15, 1862, can be seen. Bradley supposedly copied a lot from Harper’s Weekly. Though we know of no research specifically on this but - Jennifer Lynn Peterson, associate professor of film studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has identified several original works of art for other Bradley Panoramas. She states "The Historiscope" presents a gallery of images copied from more famous sources." Her fascinating article, “The Historiscope and the Milton Bradley Company: Art and Commerce in Nineteenth-Century Aesthetic Education” is linked below. According to a more recent ( 2020 ) dissertation by MARGARET FAIRGRIEVE MILANICK, All but one of the images (Richmond burning) in the Myriopticon first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. She explained that "The images in the Myriopticon were familiar to middle class families not only because they had viewed them in Harper’s Weekly, but they were interpreted in Harper’s Weekly editorials"

Collect all of 6 of Milton Bradley's nineteenth-century panorama's:

The Myriopticon A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion (Civil War Scenes) 1866
The Historiscope A Panorama & History of America (view of America’s history) 1868
Panorama of The Visit of Santa Claus to The Happy Children (children at play) 1873
Bradley's Historiscope (A later edition of The Historiscope and less elaborate) 1882
The Menagerie and Aquarium (This panorama is a cage on wheels with the moving script showing zoo animals on one side and fish on the other) 1882
Bible Panorama (Bible Scenes) 1893


For a video as well as a detailed description of each image along with images of the entire original set as it was sold for Children"
Titile: In 1866 Milton Bradley Sold a “Home Theater” Where Americans Could Watch the Civil War Unfold Before Their Eyes. AUTHOR:PATRICK YOUNG PUBLISHED DATE:NOVEMBER 27, 2021

Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles bu Erkki Huhtamo MIT Press, Aug 22, 2023


The Dick Balzer Collection https://www.dickbalzer.com/Toy_Panoramas.669.0.ht...

The Toys of War, New York Times Op-Edit February 27, 2014

Website: The Civil War in Art: Teaching and Learning through Chicago Collections

The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2009pp. 3-7

The Old Farmer's Almanack, Published: 1866 page 59

Erkki Huhtamo-Moving Panorama PDF 2002 (gebseng.com)

“The Historiscope and the Milton Bradley Company: Art and Commerce in Nineteenth-Century Aesthetic Education” by Jennifer Lynn Peterson https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/675800

Marten, James. "History in a Box: Milton Bradley’s Myriopticon." The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, vol. 2 no. 1, 2009, p. 3-7. Project MUSE, https://doi.org/10.1353/hcy.0.0042.

Full set:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/orbis:6766745 including 1 toy : lithograph, col. ; 13 x 20 cm. in box 13 x 20 x 5 cm. + booklet (7, [1] p.; 20 cm.) + 1 poster (40 x 28 cm. folded to 20 x 10 cm.) + 1 sheet of tickets (11 x 18 cm.)

Product Code: Z-11