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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A RARE VICTORIAN VESTA MATSH SAFE WITH A WHISTLE MATCHSAFE A RARE VICTORIAN VESTA MATSH SAFE WITH A WHISTLE MATCHSAFE $43.39
A RARE AND GENUINE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER  ENAMEL VESTA CASE c1908 A RARE AND GENUINE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER ENAMEL VESTA CASE c1908 $1,229.36
Stunning Rare Victorian Solid Silver Heart Shaped Vesta Case Birmingham 1898 Stunning Rare Victorian Solid Silver Heart Shaped Vesta Case Birmingham 1898 $209.71
Rare Art Nouveau 1903 Liberty  Co Silver Enamelled Archibald Knox Vesta Case Rare Art Nouveau 1903 Liberty Co Silver Enamelled Archibald Knox Vesta Case $1,699.40
RARE CAST STERLING SILVER PIG VESTA CASE LONDON 2002 RARE CAST STERLING SILVER PIG VESTA CASE LONDON 2002 $166.32
RARE BEAUTIFUL CHINESE EXPORT SILVER DRAGON VESTA CASE c1900 ANTIQUE RARE BEAUTIFUL CHINESE EXPORT SILVER DRAGON VESTA CASE c1900 ANTIQUE $238.64
RARE SLIDE ACTION SOLID STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1925 RARE SLIDE ACTION SOLID STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1925 $180.79
Rare Antique 1904 Intaglio Seal End Gilt Vesta Case Match Striker Gift Boxed Rare Antique 1904 Intaglio Seal End Gilt Vesta Case Match Striker Gift Boxed $202.48
Rare Design Antique Victorian Solid Silver Sampson Mordan Vesta Case 1886 Rare Design Antique Victorian Solid Silver Sampson Mordan Vesta Case 1886 $128.72
VINTAGE MATCH SAFE IDAN HA HOTEL BOISE IDAHO EARLY 1900S EMBOSSED INDIAN RARE VINTAGE MATCH SAFE IDAN HA HOTEL BOISE IDAHO EARLY 1900S EMBOSSED INDIAN RARE $1,200.00

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