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Monday, March 29, 2010

A Vintage Library Card Catalog: Part Two

On Sunday, my sister and I woke up early and drove from Chicago to the middle of Indiana on the quest to pick up my Library Card Catalog!

It was raining most of the way there, but other than that and a mild hangover from the night before we were in good spirits. My GPS didn't fail us and we got there about 30 minutes sooner than google maps had predicted (even after stopping for breakfast, gas and of course Combos along the way), so everything was going pretty smoothly.

The man who was selling me the cabinet owned one of those concrete lawn ornaments places, which sat across the street from the volunteer fire department and down the street from the tiniest little post office you've ever seen. (I did forget my camera so I only had my iPhone to document the experience.)

When we pulled in he had a garage full of antique goodies, but right in front was my card catalog. Yay! But just then, disaster almost struck. The original item description clearly stated that the width of the piece was 42" and I carefully measured that our SUV would fit that with maybe an inch to spare. When I got there he told me that instead it was at least 43 inches and wasn't sure it would fit!!

At this point, I thought my sister was going to kill me, but I was NOT about to leave Indiana empty-handed! He realized that for the posting he had measured the width of the body but not the top and the trim which added at least another inch to it. So we thought fast and the nice man grabbed some tools and gently removed both the top and the trim for me so that it fit without a centimeter to spare on the sides.

Talk about a PERFECT, nearly disastrous fit. But it fit. And it was now all mine.

Fast forward four hours and after just one unexpected detour through Gary, Indiana due to a road closure (where were you then, GPS??) we were home. Home is where my lovely husband and I had the fun task of unloading this 400 lb mammoth. We started by taking out ALL 60 drawers so that it was light enough for two to carry and then we carried it up piece by piece.

Once we reassembled it, all I had to do is grab our drill and screw the top back on and then use some wood glue to reattach the trim. We also had to remove 2 of our 3 floating shelves to make this fit. We will probably removed the third one eventually, but that would require some repainting so its staying for now.

I also quickly styled it with my vintage typewriter bag and an owl candle to highlight the pull-out trays, but that could change soon...

It still could use a thorough vacuuming on the inside with a shop vac, but our vacuum cleaner just broke last week. There were a few cob webs and bits n' pieces of lint and paper from libraries past, but otherwise it looks great. Dave thought it smelled "old", but I took some lemon-scented Pledge to it and that did the trick.

A few Fun Facts:
  • This Card Catalog was used in the library at Indiana University. Pretty cool to know its origin!
  • Its tag reads, Remington Rand Library Bureau Division, which from what I can tell means it was made sometime between 1927 and 1976. I guess that means it's somewhere between an antique and just being "retro".
  • It has 60 drawers and is made of oak. One drawer was missing but the seller gave me an extra drawer (on top of cabinet in photos above) that he had acquired and all I have to eventually do is sand it down a bit to fit.
  • Many of the handles are slightly different shapes & sizes (see above), but they are all the same brass finish so I like that it has some charm in that respect.
  • I also thought I might sand it down and refinish it, but at this point I also like the more naturally distressed look of the different shades of medium to dark finish.
So what's next? Filling it up of course! In order to pass the time on our road trip, my sister and I started to compile an alphabetical list of household items that I could put in the drawers so we have a nice head start. Stay tuned for my list & labeling post in the near-future!


Jennelle March 30, 2010 at 6:13 AM  

SO cool! It's a good thing you guys were able to make it fit. That would have been seriously frustrating!

cassi March 30, 2010 at 3:43 PM  

WOW that is way too cool!!!! LOVE it!! I think you should make a "home tour" post :-) You have so many pretty ideas!

N. March 30, 2010 at 8:02 PM  

I LOOOOVE it!!! Awesome find!

Heidi April 1, 2010 at 12:05 PM  

This is so awesome! What a find! And, even better it's from IU! I attended college there my freshman year and more than half of my family attended IU.

Ken April 7, 2010 at 10:51 AM  

Very nice! Have you found anyway to determine the model year? I have 2 60 drawer remington rand catalogues which I found next to a dumpster in near perfect condition! But can't figure the year to save my life.

Mona April 25, 2010 at 11:15 PM  

What a beautiful piece! I have been looking around for card catalog drawers for some time now. Would you be able to share the contact information of the seller you bought it from?

Mona April 25, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

What a great find! I have been looking around for individual catalog drawers for some time now. Would you mind sharing the contact information of the seller you bought your's from?

Stephanie @ kitschicagoan April 26, 2010 at 9:50 PM  

Thanks everyone!

@Ken: I have no idea how to figure out the year :-( If you find out, let me know!

@Mona: I got it on eBay from this seller "wilkiestuff". Check out his store :-)


About Me

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I'm a St. Louis native, but I have been living in Chicago since 2005 and am loving every windy minute of it. I enjoy cooking (more-so eating), home decorating and really anything creative. I'm a supporter of DIY & handmade goods, a fledgling foodie and a connoisseur of kitsch. I spend my days filling online shopping carts, emptying them and repeating the process all over again. Most of all I love spending time with my husband, Dave, our first child, Claire and my dog, Louie.

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