|Name Julius Agnes|
Julius and Agnes Zancig were stage magicians and authors on occultism who performed a spectacularly successful two-person mentalism act during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Julius Zancig (1857–1929) – born Julius Jörgensen in Copenhagen, Denmark – and his wife Agnes Claussen Jörgensen (c.1850s −1916) – also born in Copenhagen, and known as Agnes Zancig – were the originators of the routine.
- Retirement and private work for clients
- In popular culture
The Zancigs managed to fool many spiritualists into believing they had genuine psychic powers. Julius later confessed that their mentalist acts were based on a complex code that they had utilized.
Julius Zancig in his early career worked in iron smelting. He later became interested in mentalism and with his wife Agnes, took a mind reading act to the stage. Several versions of the Zancigs' act appeared over the years:
Retirement and private work for clients
During the 1920s, the Zancigs retired from touring. Julius was in his mid 60s, and the couple settled down to a quiet life as professional astrologers, tea leaf readers, crystal ball seers, and palmists, working for private clients. For a while they resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Julius was a member of the Society of American Magicians.
He wrote his last book, on crystal gazing, in 1926. They were living in Ocean Park, California (now Santa Monica, California), when Julius died in 1929, at the age of 72.
The Zancigs worked their stage act by means of an extremely elaborate and undetectable verbal code, which in later years became known as the Zancig Code. In 1921 a small (but by itself essentially useless) portion of the Zancigs' methodology was published by their friend and fellow mentalist-magician, Alexander the Crystal Seer.
In 1924, the psychical researcher Harry Price claimed that Julius had revealed to him his method of using a code. Price later commented:
The Zancigs' performance took years of study to perfect, and several hours practice daily were needed to keep the performers in good form. I have the Zancigs' codes in my library and know the hard work that both Mr. Julius Zancig and his wife put into their 'act,' a matter which I have discussed with Mr. Zancig himself.
The spiritualists Arthur Conan Doyle and W. T. Stead were duped into believing that the Zancigs had genuine psychic powers. Both Doyle and Stead wrote that the Zancigs performed telepathy. In 1924, Julius confessed that their mind reading act was a trick and published the secret code and all the details of the trick method they had used under the title of Our Secrets! in a London newspaper.
Writing in 1929, the year of Julius Zancig's death, the British magician Will Goldston described their methods.
The pair worked on a very complicated and intricate code. There was never any question of thought transference in the act. By framing his question in a certain manner, Julius was able to convey to his wife exactly what sort of object or design had been handed to him. Long and continual practice had brought their scheme as near perfection as is humanly possible. On several occasions confederates were placed in the audience, and at such times the effects seemed nothing short of miraculous. All their various tests were cunningly faked, and their methods were so thorough that detection was an absolute impossibility to the laymen.
In the 1940s, Robert Nelson published a simple stage code which superficially resembled that of the Zancigs, but it did not permit the diversity of expression they had achieved.
To this day, the Zancig Code, also known as "Two Minds With But a Single Thought," is considered by many professional mentalists to be the most dauntingly complex two-person communication system of its type ever devised.
In popular culture
When Stan Laurel, of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy, was approached by the fans who were starting the Laurel and Hardy fan club, "Sons of the Desert," he was asked to supply a motto for the lodge's logo and suggested a parody of the Zancigs' famous tag-line, "Two Minds Without a Single Thought!"
In 1908 Julius Zancig met Edward Cyril De Hault Laston who became the stage performing mnemonist known as 'Memora'. It was Julius Zancig who promoted Laston's talents to W. T. Stead.
Julius had influenced many magicians. In 1924, Harry Houdini wrote that "Mr. Jules Zancig is a magician, a member of the Society of American Magicians of which I have been the President for the past seven years. I believe he is one of the greatest second-sight artists that magical history records. In my researches for the past quarter of a century I have failed to trace anyone his superior. His system seems to be supreme."