Julius and Agnes Zancig were Danish stage magicians who were billed as “Two minds with but a single thought”. Born Julius Jorgenson and Agnes Claussen, they were childhood sweethearts who were reunited and married later in life. They took their mind reading act on the road and toured the world before eventually settling in America.
Agnes would roam the audience blindfolded whilst her husband would stare at an object, number or word in a book. She was seemingly able to read his mind and tell the audience exactly what he was looking at any given time.
The act led to a minor scientific controversy and so in 1906 the Daily Mail set the couple a series of tests. The reporters became convinced that what they were witnessing was true telepathy and the couples fame spread. The couple were further tested by the Society for Psychical Research and the British College of Psychic Science who both proclaimed them the real deal. The Zancigs went on to publish several books under the names Prof. and Mdme. Zancig. The stage act continued until Agnes died in 1916. Julius tried to continue the act with various others, including the fantastically named Syko the Psychic, but never managed to achieve the same level of success that he had with Agnes.
The secret to their act was revealed by fellow magician ‘Alexander the Crystal Seer’ in 1921. The Zancigs had devised an extremely complex verbal code which allowed them to communicate what Julius was seeing whilst leaving the audience clueless. It had taken them many years of practice to perfect the code and this perhaps explains why Julius was never able to replicate his success with another partner. The code was considered by many mentalists to be one of the most complex two-person code systems ever used and books are still published today which describe the method.
Although this does somewhat ruin the fun of the act, there is something interesting about finding out how the seemingly impossible was pulled off!