Best Craigslist Find Ever: Card Catalog

For so many years I’ve wanted a card catalog. I’ve periodically checked the salvage store at Penn State, eBay and Craigslist. I wanted this piece of furniture to store jewelry, knitting and sewing supplies and anything else that fits.

Two weekends ago I was watching American Pickers and remembered it’d been a few weeks since my last search and I found a card catalog on Craigslist and it was just in Bellefonte!

The seller was like me; she searched forever once she got the idea that she needed a card catalog.  She ended up finding two in an auction from a library in Cincinnati and actually rented a van and drove there in a storm in February to pick them up.

Ultimately she decided she only needed one and that’s why it was for sale. She said she had two other inquiries that seemed kind of spammy and had it listed for well over a week before I saw it. How it stuck around for so long, I don’t know.  My internet searches made it seem like so many other people were looking for card catalogs. I feel so lucky!

Last weekend my boss helped us pick it up in his truck and carry it in (it is so heavy even with all 60 drawers removed).

Look at how wonderful!

All week it sat in the garage with the drawers pulled out in boxes and today Mike and I put the drawers in and removed the papers from the fronts so we could decide how to proceed. It’s mostly in great shape.

But the sides need some work.

All week I’ve been talking to people and researching how to refinish furniture and I know it could take a really long time, especially with all those drawers and removing all the hardware. Plus, I’ve never done this before and I’d hate to ruin what took me so long to find.

I think my next step will be to clean it up with some Goo Gone and see if those smudges and stickers come off. I don’t mind if it’s slightly weathered looking on the sides because the front is so amazing. I’m hoping it looks a little better after getting cleaned up.

Any advice is appreciated!




15 thoughts on “Best Craigslist Find Ever: Card Catalog

  1. I’ve been looking for something like this too! The closest thing I found was a wooden unit with very thin, wide drawers that was used to teach kids about natural science. You’ve inspired me to keep looking. Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

      • If interested, I have a 60 drawer Card Catalog for sale which appears similar to the one shown here on this site. The drawers are beautiful hardwood maple instead of oak while the sides and bottom of cabinet appear to be veneer. It’s as beautiful as this one and in almost flawless condition. So,e of the drawers even still have Dewey decimal cards in them. It’s thought to have come from a library in or near Texas or Ohio many years ago. If anyone is interested, you can see it and find more info on Craigslist for Syracuse, New York.

  2. That card catalog is amazing. It’s potential is truly limitless and I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    If the Goo Be Gone doesn’t work, you could lightly sand the gunk off — slowly and carefully. That should take the sticker gunk off. Or you can try a little nail polish remover (I’ve used this to take sticker gunk off walls, off formica so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for wood), but test a hidden spot first to make sure it doesn’t discolour the wood.

    • I can’t wait to test it out and make it look better. Even if it’s kind of rustic looking, anything will be an improvement. I’ll be busy all this weekend but in two weeks, it’s on.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Project | It's Knot You

  4. Pingback: About that card catalog | It's Knot You

  5. I have a newer card catalog and it’s my favorite piece of furniture. Here is one refinish I found online…paint. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but it’s kind of cool.

  6. Pingback: My card catalog keeps getting better | It's Knot You

  7. My husband and I have purchased and refinished several card catalogs…it’s a lot of fun, but your piece is beautiful as is.. we made a beautiful television stand and are in the process of making a kitchen buffet for ourselves. I have a board on pinterest, “Our Card Catalog Projects” Pinterest has tons of card catalog ideas. Have fun!

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