Some Cool Catalogs to Share

Believe it or not, but paper catalogs are still a thing in our digital age. Just like some folks prefer reading an actual book over one on a tablet, so do some prefer paper catalogs. Here are six of my favorites. Enjoy!

A picture of some of my favorite catalogs that just might tickle your fancy, too.
Some of my favorite catalogs that just might tickle your fancy, too.

Catalogs are still a thing?

Growing up in the second half of the last Century (the 20th, that is), catalogs were my window to the world of "stuff" that I browsed and filled my imagination with tales of how I'd use a water-powered rocket or Daisy BB rifle. At Christmas, we'd receive a huge hardcover catalog from a merchandiser in Chicago aptly titled "The Wish Book." Of course, we get catalogs from Sears, Penney's and others.

You'd think that in the first half of the 21st Century, with digital everything, paper catalogs wouldn't exist. Ah, but fortunately, they do! Don't get me wrong; I love the convenience of going online, running a search, finding what I need, and ordering it. When studying marketing, this was called instant gratification.

Even so, I do enjoy reading through the paper catalogs that hit our mailbox. The tactile part of it explains some of the attraction, nostalgia explains a bit more, and the rest comes from who knows where. Oh, and you cannot fold down the corner of a page you want to come back to later. Sorry, bookmarks are a poor substitute!

Enough with the back story! Let me share a few of my favorite catalogs. How do I pick a favorite? Well, I'm a guy; I love gadgets, technology, knives, conservation, tools, cars, camping gear, and fishing tackle...I think you get the picture. So, let's begin!

NOTE: I receive no compensation from any of the catalogs I mention. It's just fun to share!

A comment about quality

When it comes to buying tools, knives, seeds, plants, and collectibles of any sort, I always recommend buying the highest quality you can afford. You'll rarely, if ever, regret choosing a quality tool, everyday carry (EDC) item, or packet of seeds over a cheaper and potentially lower-quality alternative. In my "expert" opinion, the offerings from these catalogs meet the quality criteria. I have purchased from all the catalogs, giving me firsthand exposure to their products with one exception, Prairie Moon. They receive rave reviews for those of you keeping score, and I'll be buying from them for my burgeoning prairie once the snow recedes.

The Best Brushes

I haven't put this grouping of catalogs in any order of preference, just the order they came to mind. First up, The Best Brushes catalog. True to the title, the pages are chock full of all shapes, manners, and purposes of brushes, nearly all handmade. There are other goodies sprinkled throughout, making it a treat to flip through the pages.

We've purchased their products, and they are extremely well made and function as advertised. The downside to this quality and manufacturing technique is the prices. Yes, they are high, but buying something once is always the way to go. Keeps junk out of the landfill.

The company publishes several catalogs, two I feature in this post. And, to my delight, the parent company goes by the name Luddites, Inc. Luddites were a group of folks dead set against the Industrial Revolution. Eventually, anyone opposed to change received the Luddite label. It's clever that a paper catalog comes from a company named Luddites, Inc. and that few of their products are technologically enabled.

They don't totally eschew technology, though. Their website resides at this URL: You can download a catalog, sign up for their newsletter, place an order, and do everything a non-Luddite commerce site allows. Don't think of it as hypocritical; they are merchants, after all.

Deutsche Optik

This catalog is the second from Luddites, Inc. I suspect they began as a catalog for German optical gear like binoculars, as those products still grace the pages of their paper catalogs. However, it offers so much more! Beer steins, cups, and glasses. Really cool European Military Surplus. Expensive watches from a maker I've never heard of (and I collect watches). Knives, lighters, Italian mess kits. I could go on, but that would spoil the surprise and satisfaction of exploring the tome for yourself.

Click this link to reach their distinctly un-Luddite website. ​

Smoky Mountain Knife Works

If it is sharp, pointy, and cuts, chances are excellent that Smoky Mountain Knife Works (SMKW) will have it for you. This store hails from Sevierville, TN just a stone's throw away from Dollywood in beautiful Pigeon Forge, TN. As the sign out front of the SMKW building proclaims, they are the largest knife store in the world. I'm inclined to believe them, having prowled this mammoth knife collector's paradise many times.

The folks at SMKW are well connected with the knife world, owning Case, Frost Cutlery, a number of German brands, and Zippo Lighters. They fill their catalogs with a dizzying array of every kind of knife at every conceivable price point. If it's a knife or has knife-like characteristics, it's probably available from SMKW.

A note about the "Made in China" label on knives

Products made in China often get a bad rap for poor quality. When it comes to knives, you can disabuse yourself of that notion. The knives I've purchased from SMKW of Chinese origin are superbly made. Fit and finish, quality of the materials, and functionality cannot be beaten for the incredibly low prices they command. The reason for this is quite simple; we taught Chinese companies how to make quality pocket knives. The fact that they also had centuries of fine steel-making experience under their belts helped, too.

Dive into the digital version of SMKW via this URL: and treat yourself to a trip to their physical store as soon as you can.

Russell's for Men

Think of Russell's for men as a melding of Orvis, Sharper Image, and SMKW. It's all about finery for men (or ladies) to liven up their everyday carry and homesteads. Russell got started years ago making custom knives and still cranks out some mighty fine products today, just at a price point that far exceeds my budget.

Get the skinny and order a catalog from their URL:


If you are a hobbyist and work on small projects like modeling and model railroads, Micro-Mark will make your day. They stuff their catalog full of every conceivable type of tool you need to build and finish small projects. I'm talking about tiny power belt sanders and table saws, screwdrivers for the smallest of screws. Adhesives, paints, and other supplies. They also offer kits and model railroad trains, transformers, and more.

Grab a copy, pull up a comfortable chair and prepare to spend a good hour or so perusing the contents of this miniaturist's dream world. Their link? Right here:

Prairie Moon Nursery

I have two, no three, landscaping dreams. They are:

  1. Have a prairie, not a yard - eliminate mowing and attract beneficial insects like bees. Plus, I can burn it once a year and be done with all necessary maintenance. That's a joke. Minneapolis frowns on burning, although prairie fires do revitalize the real things.
  2. Create a moss garden - that goes with my bonsai trees, and moss has amazing details, resembling tiny versions of ferns, having nano-mushrooms, and definitely cool spore stalks.
  3. Have a compact, cottage-style garden - okay, this is my wife's dream, but I endorse it wholeheartedly!

To realize the prairie in my front plot, I've already seeded the area with a mixture of bee-friendly seeds. I spread them just before the first snowfall so they could gain energy for a spring growth spurt. They've been under a substantial layer of snow ever since.

The Prairie Moon catalog crossed our threshold a few weeks back and immediately caught my attention with its prairie and heirloom seeds and plants. Perfect timing as I was cogitating on what to use on the City boulevard (that little strip of grass between the street and sidewalk) to complement my bee lawn. Choices abound, and the catalog provides excellent detailed guidance on what soil, sun, and water requirements each plant and seed requires to flourish. We get a lot of seed and nursery catalogs, and this one tops them all with useful horticultural info.

I'm looking forward to giving them a try. If you think you might have a similar interest, check out their website:

That's a wrap!

Okay, that's enough catalog enticement for one post. I'll write another one in the future. In the meantime, check out those that catch your fancy. And, if you get a paper catalog, always recycle them when you are through. Don't be a Luddite about conservation!!