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Library Card Catalog

I’ve had an obsession with library card catalogs for a couple years. I think they’re unique and there’s history behind them. That, and they’re basically the pygmy hippopotamuses of furniture. Because I’m pretty certain the majority of libraries use online book cataloging now. Goodbye, Dewey Decimal. Enjoy your forced retirement.



I’ve been trolling Craigslist for card catalogs off and on for about a year. When I would think about it, I would do a search. Well, about a month ago I searched, and low and behold one was for sale.



The ad was posted at 4:25PM. I emailed the guy at 7:30PM. He emailed me back a couple minutes later and asked if I wanted to take a look at it that night. Brad was game, so by 8PM we were on our way to the guy’s house. Or I should say church? The nice man I purchased it from lives in a former church, pews and all. (The house/church is currently on the market. Check out the listing here.) When Brad and I arrived we thought he had just moved in and was working on clearing it out. Nope. He’s lived there for 15 hoarding years. I have a record of buying Craigslist items from interesting people in interesting places. Makes Craigslisting fun and exciting, in my opinion.


Now, some of you may be thinking “$85 for a card catalog? I bet I could get one for $25”. And maybe you could. But do an EBay or Etsy search, and you’ll see how much these suckers are going for. We’re talking $250-$1,500+. This card catalog is solid, and it has dovetail drawers. So I think $85 is a pretty good deal.

Now, there is one obvious thing missing here. One drawer. One pesky drawer.

UPDATE! I found a drawer!

When I bought it I figured I could make a drawer (or at least a faux drawer), find a label holder/drawer pull like the others, slap it on, and call it a day. But I’ve scoured the Internets for a label holder/drawer pull that’s identical to the other ones to no avail. I asked my brother if one of his friends could fabricate one, but he said it would cost “$$$”. I’m assuming he meant it would cost over $100 by using three dollar signs in his text message. Hmm yeah, I’m not paying more than $10 for a piece of metal, let alone $100. So if you come across a similar label holder/drawer pull email me. Pretty please. UPDATE! I found a drawer solution!
Now, some of you are probably thinking, “This is great, Chelsea, but what are you going to use this for/do with it? Or is this just another pawn in your hoarding game?” And to you, I’d say that it won’t be in its current state forever. I have a plan. It’s mustering up the ambition to execute said plan. I mean, it took me about 3 months to turn the dresser into a TV stand. If we use that algorithm, I have 2 months left to do something with the card catalog. Tick tock.
What are your thoughts on card catalogs?
Any suggestions on what I should do about the label holder/drawer pull conundrum?

UPDATE! I found a drawer solution!
Note: The card catalog is NOT for sale.
Unless you want to give me $10,000 for it. I’d be able to part with it for $10,000, but nothing less.

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  1. It’s so pretty! And it does seem you get the best sellers. We have never had such exciting Craig shopping.

  2. I love it! Good luck finding matching hardware. If that doesn’t pan out for you, what about removing all the drawers on one row (or even a column) for a bit of open shelving? Of course, you’d have to clean up the look of the inside a bit (maybe removing the trim/installing a back panel). Sounds like a lot of work, but I think it could be worth it!

    Ooh, or I wonder if you just removed the middle 3 (2, really) on top and removed the trim pieces between drawers if that would make a nice tall cubby for something practical, decorative, or both?

    Could be fun!

    Wow. I think I might be jealous of your project. I’m gonna stop typing/thinking about it now. 🙂

  3. I love card catalogs!
    Can’t wait to see what you do with it…and now I am totally checking out the Craig to see if I can score one 🙂

  4. Would it look weird if you just replaced it with wood and no handle. It’s in the middle so it might look meant to be. I’m bad at visualizing things though.

    I LOVE this piece. Very jealous. I always find them in antique stores for $400+.

  5. For $85 only?! Wow you got a steal girl! I always see them going for beaucoup bucks at antique stores

  6. I LOVE it! And $85 was totally a good deal! Maybe in the mean time you should just pull out a few more drawers and put something small and cute in them for display? Regardless I’m super jealous of your amazing find!

  7. How stinkin cool is that?! I think $85 is a steal! Can’t wait to see what magic you do with it!!

  8. You could put a figurine of your last name monogram in that space, painted in a bold color. I have seen several metal and wood initial figures in smaller sizes that would fit into a space like this, and if you planned to paint the stand a more nuetral color, that one pop of color with your last name initial resting in that cubby would create a really dramatic effect! I’d paint the inside of the cubby hole the same color that you paint the rest of the piece.

    Or, paint the piece of furniture one color, paint the inside of the cubby hole a dramatic accent color, and put some sort of other small knick-knack in there.

    Cant wait to see your finished product!

  9. I think you should give the card catalog piece to one of your favorite bloggy friends instead 😉

    It’s gorgeous! Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  10. I love card catalogs! Reminds me of my childhood (we spent a lot of time at the library… for better or worse!) Can’t wait to see your design.

  11. Jealous! That is a great find!!! You could take out the whole row and cut out that section to hold your dvd or cable box since you’re using it as a tv stand.

  12. Absolutely love it!!! I want one! I would put a false door on the missing spot (love how you have it in the middle) and paint a design on it, like a monogram. Add a little personal touch, and you don’t have to worry about the cost and hassle of making a drawer. I think you have plenty of drawers to go around already!

  13. I’ve always wanted a card catalog! I’m simultaneously jealous and thrilled for you. I’m psyched to see what you do with it in 2 months or so 😉 I’m picturing amazing things. Good work, you craigslist warrior.

  14. i luuuuuurve it. Seriously jealous. I have been googling these for a while and i definitely appreciate what a good deal $85 is. Especially for one that large. i will keep my eyes open for some matching pulls for you!

  15. Love your blog…I’ve been stalking for a while, but finally got the courage to comment. I can’t wait to see what you do with this piece. I bought one that’s half the size for twice your price. It’s been sitting in my living room on an old Ikea table for years (no cool base like yours). So, you’re ahead of the game for even thinking about fixing it up after only a month!

  16. That’s a steal! My friend paid much more for one! She uses it for recipes and kitchen knick-knacks. Can’t wait to see how you use yours!

  17. See what you do with this. I see card catalogs on our CL and I always covet them but never know way I’d use it for. Maybe craft storage?

  18. You FOUND ONE?!

    I have been STALKING old craig and his list for DECADES. Decades, I tell ya! I’m dying to call one of these my own… but in the meantime, I will pine for yours. In a totally covetous way.

  19. What a deal. The two that are on my CL right now are listed at $600 and $525. Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  20. So jealous. And I am cracking up as I am always bemoaning the demise of the Dewey Decimal system. So funny. My hubby thinks I am nuts. If your card catalog mysteriously disappears, it wasn’t me. 😉

  21. I have several and LOVE them. I used to have a Google Alert for craigslist library card… I store craft supplies in mine. Good oak makes me swoon. Nice price – good job!

  22. Great for you. I too have been looking for over a year for myself, however I refuse to pay the $$$$ they are asking for them. I am planning to use mine (when I find one lol) for scrapbook supplies, bead supplies, paints, etc. Yes I am a crafter to the bone!!!! If you have not found the original idea supplies I would suggest this: I said you have a drawer idea and I would use that and put a label (0ld looking) that says something like this:
    This lovely antique belong to &&**
    do not remove for any reason
    it’s mine, I found it, I fixed it!!!
    Be afraid very afraid
    Or something equally as silly or just your name and address or even just your name in large font lettering. I think that would solve the $$ factor plus show some funny thoughts specific to you and your Own PERSONALITY! LOL LOL

  23. Oh, lucky you! I have been obsessed with these things for years and have searched high and low and the only ones I’ve found have been over $500. Out of my league! So color me green with envy!

  24. Great find! I have been trolling Craigslist for a while now, and haven’t found one yet! But my friend has a great card catalog (that you can see in my blog post about her beautiful black and white craft room). I am going to check out Craigslist now!

  25. Great find! I’ve been trolling craigslist for card catalogs, too. Ever since I saw a friend of mine’s card catalog, I’ve been wanting one for my hom’e living room!

  26. I know this is an older entry but I had an idea and thought I would share. You should take out a few of the other drawers and put wine bottles in there. Then it’s a partial wine rack!

  27. Sherri K. says:

    Put it in your sewing room – using the drawers to separate your spools of thread.

  28. Love it. But I’ll admit I’m a little jealous 🙂

  29. I am extremely intrested in finding an old cars catalog but don’t know how. Please help

  30. julie Treadwell says:

    I am looking for card catalogs in Houston Tx…My mother has them in her house and I have wanted some like it FOREVER…but they are going for $$$$$$ if anyone has a lead on some that are less $$ – please contact me.



  31. Lisa Baker says:

    I am jealous! I want one too but nothing near me for sale. Dallas-Fort Worth. Have fun with it and I will continue with my search!

  32. Didn’t Vintage Revival have the same situation? I think she just created a false front for her missing drawer front 🙂

  33. Hi! I just stumbled upon this post as I am fixing up a card catalog of my own! I’m planning on using hairpin legs but I am undecided on how high to order? My card catalog is three drawers by five (about 18 inches high including the cool tray that pulls out). I’m thinking I want the entire thing to be higher than counter height so that the bottom drawers aren’t too low to the ground…
    Curious how high the legs are here on your beautiful piece?


  34. I found a library card catalogue on Kijiji here in CAN. for a song. I left the label holder/drawer empty like yours. I just cleaned up the oak and polished the brass. I have mine in my living room and love it the way it is.

  35. D Warmuth says:

    I have a similar cabinet but am missing the base. What did you use for your base?

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