Cards on the Table

Saturday was a day when I finally got something I’ve wanted forever.  Okay, maybe not forever, but I’ve been on the hunt for months.  Possibly even a year.  Regardless of how long it’s actually been, it’s been way too long.

I think it was pretty obvious what we got from yesterday’s post but if you haven’t guessed, I can give you some more clues:

  1. You’ve probably used one of these in a library before.
  2. It involves the Dewey Decimal System.
  3. You can see one in the apartment of Liz Lemon or Sheldon Cooper.

Well, now that I made it pretty obvious I can just come out and say it…

We got ourselves not one but two library card catalogs!

Finding one has been quite an adventure for me.  My search has involved eBay and craigslist searches, as well as calling schools (yes, I went so far as to call my childhood elementary school and the high school down the street from us).  My online searches typically resulted in card catalogs in the Mid-West and California.  Sometimes places like Vermont (where I actually considered making the 4+ hour drive to do so) or down in Louisiana.  At the end of the day, none of these options we plausible.

At the same time, a lot of these card catalogs had steep prices.  On average they ranged anywhere from $300.00 to  $1,200.00.  Yes, you read that right.  No matter how badly I wanted one of these, I couldn’t imagine paying at least $300.00 for a piece of furniture, on top of driving several hours to get it.  After all, we’ve got bills to pay.

Libraries tend to get rid of their card catalogs after they update to online catalogs but it’s hard to catch this as it happens.  In the area we live, a lot of libraries have already made the switch and gotten rid of their card catalogs.  The ones that haven’t upgraded don’t have any plans to do so.  I’ll admit that this felt impossible.

I did end up finding one in Brooklyn that was being sold in pieces (15 drawers each) at $250.00 a pop or $450.00 if you bought two.  Again, I considered it but couldn’t even bring myself to contact the seller.  Joe and I got to talking about this and we agreed that if I could find one that I liked for $200.00 I could get it.

It took a few months before I finally found one, but I did.  Somehow, I found a seller on the Scranton craigslist.  The ad said $200 for a card catalog and there were two for sale.  On a whim, I decided to send an email (on the 17th) to see if they were still available.  No harm done in that, right?  Then I waited.  By Friday I figured that someone else had bought them and they were no longer available.  I was a little let down but I continued searching online.

I am nothing if not stubborn.

On Monday (the 23rd) I received an email from the seller telling me they were available.  After silently freaking out, I emailed Joe telling him they I found a card catalog for $200.00.  I emailed him the craigslist posting in which he responded “wait, is it $200 for one or for both?”.  I had absolutely no idea so I emailed the seller back letting him know that I was definitely interested in purchasing one but asked him if it the price was for one or both.

Turns out it was for both.  Imagine me freaking out because that is exactly what happened.  I let him know I would come get both on Saturday.  I also gave my uncle a call because he lived about an hour away from the seller and has a giant pick up truck.  I wasn’t exactly sure how Joe and I were going to get both home so I figured having a second car was a great option.  Plus, my aunt and uncle were coming to Staten Island on Sunday so it was a win-win situation.

Saturday came and we were out the door by 9AM.  Joe and I swooped by his parents’ house to grab their SUV (I was nervous our car was going to be too small) and hit the road.  An hour and a half later, we were at my aunt and uncle’s and then 45 minutes later, we were at the seller’s parents’ house.

Now, I’ve never bought or sold anything from craigslist before so I was a little nervous.  Maybe that’s a little silly but it’s always good to be safe when it comes to these things.  Thankfully, this family was incredibly friendly and it was not a sketchy situation.  Either way, I was glad to have both Joe and my uncle there.

We loaded most of the pieces into the truck output the bases into my uncle’s truck.  Then we departed ways.

Once we got back home, Joe and I worked together to get everything inside.  Sadly, I am not strong by any means and so I was only able to carry the light pieces, like the tops and the drawers.  Joe carried in the bigger pieces.  Our living room easily looked like a disaster.

After we got everything in, we brought the truck back to his parents’ house (we refilled the gas tank and it cost us $65.00 – that’s nuts!) and got our car.  We needed to go grocery shopping but decided that it would be better if we threw out all of the cards before we did anything else.

There were 50 drawers worth of cards that had taken over our living room.  That all turned into 10 bags of trash.  All 10 bags were incredibly heavy.

Yesterday, my aunt and uncle stopped by to bring us the bases for our card catalogs which meant that Joe and I could finally put them together.  We would finally get our living room back again!  Sadly, I do not have any pictures to capture the reconstruction of these card catalogs but I don’t think that’s a big deal since they sort of just lock into place.

We put one in the back room…

… and the other in the living room…

I am in love with them.  L-O-V-E love.  They are exactly what I had in mind.

Granted, there are pieces of tape with numbers on each drawer that I’ll need to remove.  I started removing some of the tape but it’s very time-consuming (I’ve only done 12 so far… out of 50).  So far, I’m just using water and an x-acto knife to gently scrape the tape off.  Once I’m totally done with this, I’ll need to grab some Goo-Gone to remove the sticker residue.

It’s actually more noticeable in this photo than in real life (thanks to the use of a flash), but it is there.

While all of our drawers have oak fronts, some of the drawers are plastic.

Others are solid wood (those are my favorites).

It’s so nice finally having one of these, let alone two.  To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to happen.  They are both in such great condition that I have no plans to paint them (the wood stain is too nice to do that to) or try to convert them into another piece of furniture.  Maybe one day we’ll make a base with wooden legs but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

For now, I’m just enjoying them.

Have you ever spent a long time looking for the perfect piece of furniture?  Maybe a piece of decor?  Anything on your “wish list”?  Anyone have memories of using a card catalog?

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  • Ainhoa

    I’m in love with card catalogs, too! And I’ve also noticed the one in Sheldon Cooper’s apartment, haha. I don’t know if they sell those here though, maybe I’ll look for one. I love yours, and I can’t believe you got them for $100 each, that’s amazing!

    • Kristen

      I still can’t get over it either! This morning I forgot we had them and when I walked into the living room I was so giddy to see it :)

  • annabelvita

    Those are soooo gorgeous! I love everything about them – the stain, the legs, the handles. I’d love a card catalog but haven’t committed any time to the search like you have! I also really want a 50s kitchen larder cupboard. And as an Office fan, I’m also jealous you went to Scranton, haha!

    • Kristen

      Thanks! I think that cupboard would be pretty cool to have – definitely to keep an eye out for! It was funny driving through Scranton (the catalogs were actually in Kingston) because we love The Office, too. I even sang the intro for Joe.

  • johnny51

    Great find! They look awesome! I didn’t know Liz Lemon had those in her apartment.
    Wish I knew you guys were going to Scranton, I could’ve told you a couple places to eat! I grew up in Swoyersville, which is just outside of Scranton. What town did you make the pickup in? Was it actually Scranton or another burb?

    • Kristen

      If only we had known! Joe and I were starving on the way back but decided it would be best just to get home as soon as possible

      The town we got them in was Kingston… so sort of close (30 minutes away, I think).

      • johnny51

        Oh ok. I know Kingston very well. My high school was in Kingston! I went to Bishop O’Reilly and they’ve since merged, not sure of their current status. Anyway, I bet I know what library those are from. I’m thinking the Hoyt library or maybe the Osterhout… Wonder if there are any library markings on them. Small world.

        • Kristen

          It is a small world – how funny! Sadly, there aren’t any markings but the guy I bought it from said he found it at a local non-profit.

  • Ashleigh

    OMG these are awesome, I am well jealous. Do you know what you are going to put in them yet? xox

    • Kristen

      Yep – that’s tomorrow’s post :)

  • Rebecca @ the lil house that could

    Those are insane! I’m pretty sure my college still had one when I graduated 6 years ago. Okay I guess that’s longer than it sounded. Who knew they’d become such a rare find!

  • emilysnuffer

    How exciting! It makes it so worth it to keep going on your hunt! Amazing!!!

  • Christine @ Casa-de-Christine

    They look great!! Great condition too- love the wood stain.

    I hope you were able to recycle the library cards? Sorry- I’m a recycling fanatic! lol

    • Joe

      Hi, Joe here. Yup! All of the paper is primed for a recycling pickup tomorrow.

  • VVednesday

    Love, love, love these! You’re so lucky to have found two for such and amazing price! Curious- what are you going to store in them? I think they’re so beautiful but I always ask myself, “What can I actually use them for?” The drawers are so narrow!

    • Kristen

      I have a post for tomorrow where I cover exactly what I’m going to use these for :)

  • Brandi @ His Shabby Her Chic

    Man am I jealous!! They are gorgeous!

  • Melanie @ Mailbox Journey

    They look great! I think the hunt is half the fun of it all. :)

  • Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication

    That is such a cool piece! I’m so glad you found it! :)

  • katiepede

    Beautiful! But I hoped you recycled all that card! :-) x

    • Joe

      Joe here….Kristen’s lesser half.

      The card is ready for a recycling pickup tomorrow. I would have hated tossing it all in the trash.

      • katiepede

        Yaaaaaay! :-D x

  • J

    oh my -

    it is great.

    but I am going to cry if you really threw out all those cards and didn’t recycle them…

    • Kristen

      Don’t worry – it’s going out in the recycling tomorrow!

  • Whitney @ Drab to Fab Design

    Holy moly those are awesome!! You got a heck of a deal, and they’re so vintage! I love them!

  • horsehoundandhouse

    I’m extremely jealous right now. You got a great deal!

  • Stephanie @ Horse Hound and House

    I’m extremely jealous right now!

  • Jenny

    Very Cool! : )

  • Vidya @Whats Ur Home Story

    Wow! Those are super duper cool. I’ve been wanting one too for a long time. Yup noticed them in Sheldon’s apartment. :) But I’m not digging their bases. Can you maybe stack them up one on top of the other?

    • Kristen

      Thanks! For now, I sort of like the bases (the vintage-industrial look is working for me) but if we do want to switch them up, I would try to build a similar base from wood. They’re already pretty tall (I’m also on the short side) so I’m not going to re-stack them but maybe someday!

  • Vidya @Whats Ur Home Story

    Oh, and did you thorw all those cards away? Maybe they could have been some kind of a project? Like a paper chandelier or framing them (I don’t know how).

    • Kristen

      All the cards already got recycled (although I kept a few funny cards and dividers). It would’ve been fun to do something with the cards but I didn’t have anything in mind and didn’t want to hold on to more clutter (the back room has enough stuff back there!).

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