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 1890s COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BEER BREWERY ANTIQUE MATCH SAFE MILWAUKEE WI RARE 1890s COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BEER BREWERY ANTIQUE MATCH SAFE MILWAUKEE WI $129.99
Gutta percha ornate Victorian Antique engraved Match safe Holder Rare Gutta percha ornate Victorian Antique engraved Match safe Holder Rare $15.50
rare IRISH silver Dragons Sterling Vesta Match Safe Box 1858 Dublin West rare IRISH silver Dragons Sterling Vesta Match Safe Box 1858 Dublin West $950.00
Vintage International Tailoring Match Safe Metal Pocket 1904 Very Rare Vintage International Tailoring Match Safe Metal Pocket 1904 Very Rare $89.00
Rare WL Marble 3rd model Marbles Gladstone Michigan Match safe 1904 Rare WL Marble 3rd model Marbles Gladstone Michigan Match safe 1904 $100.00
Antique Chinese Sterling Silver Rare Figural Buddha Match Safe Antique Chinese Sterling Silver Rare Figural Buddha Match Safe $800.00
VTG RARE Garland Stoves  Ranges Michigan Stove Co Aluminum Match Safe Holder VTG RARE Garland Stoves Ranges Michigan Stove Co Aluminum Match Safe Holder $9.99
rare c1905 REID HAND SEPARATOR Cream Philadelphia Celluloid match safe VESTA rare c1905 REID HAND SEPARATOR Cream Philadelphia Celluloid match safe VESTA $349.99
Antique 1883 ANHEUSER BUSCH Budweiser Match Safe Pre Prohibition Rare Sign Case Antique 1883 ANHEUSER BUSCH Budweiser Match Safe Pre Prohibition Rare Sign Case $189.95
English Sterling Silver William Neale Manchester RARE Match Box Vesta Case Chain English Sterling Silver William Neale Manchester RARE Match Box Vesta Case Chain $210.00

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