In the Civil War’s wake, Milton Bradley, a Massachusetts-raised draftsman, developed an inventive boxed toy. He gave it an equally inventive, if verbose, name: The Myriopticon: Historical Panorama: The Rebellion. The Myriopticon is a cardboard mockup of a theater. Adorning its edges are hand-colored images of curtains, bunting, musicians, and actors. And amidst this tableau is a window, which opens on a lithographic scroll of 22 illustrations—iconic Civil War scenes, including the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the evacuation of Richmond. The scroll sits on spindles attached to winding cranks, creating something of a moving panorama.
Accompanying the original toy was a large advertising poster, an eight-page booklet of instructions, admission tickets, and a script or “lecture,” which Bradley wrote. The instructions suggest placing the Myriopticon in a darkened room, and placing a lit candle behind the panorama as a narrator reads from the script.
Bradley would produce several variations of the Myriopticon, and would eventually become the leading American toy manufacturer.