Father Martin Van Buren Tate - Brother Alma Vining Tate - Homer Martin Tate

 


Homer Tate - King of Gaffs


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Dan Dorsey of Atlanta, Georgia was a showman.  He was a magician, mentalist, Punch and Judy puppeteer, spook show operator and owner of Dorsey’s Strange Exhibition, sideshow.  Dorsey purchased the Tate gaffs shown here between 1957 to 1959.  As each one was delivered, his father and him built the display cases, his mother lined each on with white satin, then Dorsey and his father carefully mounted each gaff and installed the glass.  For over 54 years, Dorsey exhibited his sideshow in and around the Atlanta area.  At some point in time, Dorsey created a pitch booklet, using Homer Tate’s description of each gaff.  He sold the booklets for .25, then .50. 

 

In 2010, Dorsey health was failing and he stopped performing and displaying his sideshow.  In 2012 Dorsey had written a form letter offering to sell his complete sideshow.  It is unknown if any were actually sent out or to who.  In 2012 he also wrote a letter to the owners of New York City's Obscura Antiques & Oddities, from the TV show Oddities attempting to sell them the gaffs.  No response is known of.  Dan Dorsey passed away in May 2014. 

 

Bruce Walstad (a collector of gaffs and operator of The Old Time Sideshow of Curiosities, Oddities and Urban Legends), learned through a mutual friend of the Tate gaffs being up for sale.  Walstad and Dorsey spoke several times, then the calls stopped.  A week or so later Dorsey called Walstad and explained he had been in the hospital.  Dorsey and Walstad had just about reached an agreement, when Dorsey suddenly passed away. About a month later, the mutual friend informed Walstad, that Mrs. Dorsey wanted to sell the gaffs and would accept Walstad’s last offer.  A few days, Walstad when to Atlanta and purchased the gaffs.

 


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"Shrunken Heads"

 

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Dorsey's Advertising and the Pitch Booklet

 

 


 

 

 


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Photos of Tate's Creations and Dorsey's Exhibition courtesy of Bruce Walstad


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