Second sight acts have been performed for hundreds of years but their heyday was the latter half of the nineteenth century. Though not always presented as a magic trick, many magicians performed second sight in their acts. The act generally consisted of two performers, at least one of whom was blindfolded, appearing to transfer thoughts between each other.
The classic acts, such as those performed by Pinetti and Robert-Houdin, consisted of one performer, generally the magician, holding up articles bought in by members of the audience and requesting the second performer, seated blindfolded on the stage, to describe said objects. Below is an etching showing Robin performing a second sight act in Piccadilly in January 1851.
Pictured here in Henry Ridgely Evans' The Old and The New Magic, this sofa employed a secret that was quite revolutionary at the time. The craze for second sight led to many lesser-known entertainers adopting the act. The secrets to performing second sight were readily available to those interested, Hoffmann having discussed them at length in his 1890 publication More Magic. There were even "penny dreadfuls" published on the methods.