What is a Vesta Case?


Vesta cases, also known as match safes, are small boxes that are used to carry matches and keep them safe from the elements. Vesta cases are often intricately crafted and considered small works of art, which why these match cases are very popular with collectors of antiques.

In the early 1800's, it was common to carry matches, since some type of portable fire was needed to light lanterns and stoves. The matches of that day were crude compared to today's standards, and were known to light when making contact with each other, and sometimes even spontaneously. In order to alleviate this potentially hazardous situation, it made good sense to utilize a vesta case or match safe.

One of the more interesting features of the vesta case or match safes is that they almost always include some type of rough or ribbed surface, usually on the bottom of the case that is used for striking the matches.

Match safes, or vesta cases can been found in countless different styles, materials and shapes. Metals used for making vesta cases range from tin, brass and silver to the more expensive precious metals like gold. Vesta cases can also be found in natural materials including bone, wood and ivory. While the most common size of the vesta case is small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket, larger cases were also made for home use. These larger cases or safes were commonly placed in areas where fires were often lit, for example, near wood burning stoves or fireplaces.

Vesta cases can still be found and purchased today for either personal use or to include in a collection. For a visual example of vesta cases, here is a small sampling of some of the vesta cases and match safes that can be found eBay, an online auction website:

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RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER FOOTBALL SOCCER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE 1892 RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER FOOTBALL SOCCER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE 1892 $374.79
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER BULLDOG MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1906 RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER BULLDOG MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1906 $368.54
RARE Antique Figural Brass PIG Match Safe Box Holder Snuff England c1890 RARE Antique Figural Brass PIG Match Safe Box Holder Snuff England c1890 $129.00
RARE ANTIQUE 1914 SILVERPLATE MATCH SAFE W HINGED LID AND INSIGNIA RARE ANTIQUE 1914 SILVERPLATE MATCH SAFE W HINGED LID AND INSIGNIA $19.99
RARE VINTAGE BRASS ANHEUSER BUSCH MATCH SAFE Nice Shape RARE VINTAGE BRASS ANHEUSER BUSCH MATCH SAFE Nice Shape $39.99
Rare Antique Victor Rubber Tire Co Advertising Ornate Repousse Brass Match Safe Rare Antique Victor Rubber Tire Co Advertising Ornate Repousse Brass Match Safe $199.95
Rare Vienna Combo Matchsafe Cigar Cutter Slow Match Tinder Cord Safe Vesta Case Rare Vienna Combo Matchsafe Cigar Cutter Slow Match Tinder Cord Safe Vesta Case $125.00
Vintage Match Safe Vesta Owl Match Holder Rare Match Holder From Estate Great Vintage Match Safe Vesta Owl Match Holder Rare Match Holder From Estate Great $129.99
SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER GOLFER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRM 1905 SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER GOLFER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRM 1905 $312.33
Amazing Antique Celluloid MATCH SAFE Horse FOX HUNT SCENE RARE Amazing Antique Celluloid MATCH SAFE Horse FOX HUNT SCENE RARE $69.99

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