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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very rare antique vesta case made by TH birmigham 1902 enamelled cartouche very rare antique vesta case made by TH birmigham 1902 enamelled cartouche $182.12
Rare Antique Brass Figural Match Safe Monument Babylon 1805 MDCCCV Rare Antique Brass Figural Match Safe Monument Babylon 1805 MDCCCV $199.00
Very Rare Antique Novelty Vesta Case Match Safe Donkey Prime Minister Gladstone Very Rare Antique Novelty Vesta Case Match Safe Donkey Prime Minister Gladstone $94.10
advertising match safe Gutta Percha Arm  Hammer antique original 1880 rare advertising match safe Gutta Percha Arm Hammer antique original 1880 rare $95.00
Vintage wall mount BLACK CAST IRON MATCH SAFE HOLDER LB 16 IRON ART Rare Vintage wall mount BLACK CAST IRON MATCH SAFE HOLDER LB 16 IRON ART Rare $9.25
Vintage Silver Plated Vesta Case Antique Rare Collectable Vintage Silver Plated Vesta Case Antique Rare Collectable $19.72
Original  Rare WW2 Army Air Forces C 1 Survival Vest Match Safe w Top Compass Original Rare WW2 Army Air Forces C 1 Survival Vest Match Safe w Top Compass $38.95
Rare Vintage Antique Vulkanite Bakelite Vesta Match Safe Holder Queen Victoria Rare Vintage Antique Vulkanite Bakelite Vesta Match Safe Holder Queen Victoria $5.51
RARE Royal Bayreuth Porcelain Blue Onion Tettau Match Holder Match Safe RARE Royal Bayreuth Porcelain Blue Onion Tettau Match Holder Match Safe $25.00
VINTAGE SILVER SLIDE ACTION VESTA CASE 1925 ADVERTISING JAMES MCLEAN RARE VINTAGE SILVER SLIDE ACTION VESTA CASE 1925 ADVERTISING JAMES MCLEAN RARE $89.55

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