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 14K YELLOW GOLD VESTA CASE w GOLD  DIAMOND HORSEHOE 24 grams NR RARE 14K YELLOW GOLD VESTA CASE w GOLD DIAMOND HORSEHOE 24 grams NR $599.99
RARE ANTIQUE Art Nouveau STERLING SILVER MATCH SAFE HIGH RELIEF ANGLE RARE ANTIQUE Art Nouveau STERLING SILVER MATCH SAFE HIGH RELIEF ANGLE $467.25
Very Rare Old David Andersen Sterling Silver  Enamel Match Safe Vesta Very Rare Old David Andersen Sterling Silver Enamel Match Safe Vesta $395.00
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER BULLDOG MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1906 RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER BULLDOG MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1906 $384.22
Cornelius Saunders  Frank Shepherd 1898 Tiny Match Safe Vesta Arts  Craft Rare Cornelius Saunders Frank Shepherd 1898 Tiny Match Safe Vesta Arts Craft Rare $9.99
RARE EARLY ANTIQUE ORNATE STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER WITH SNUFF BOX RARE EARLY ANTIQUE ORNATE STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER WITH SNUFF BOX $235.00
VINTAGE STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE RARE DOG FACE MAKERDAB VINTAGE STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE RARE DOG FACE MAKERDAB $663.00
VERY RARE COPPERART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFEVESTA 1900S FRENCH GREAT CASE MUST SEE VERY RARE COPPERART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFEVESTA 1900S FRENCH GREAT CASE MUST SEE $265.00
Rare Gorham Sterling Match Safe Alligator Pattern Real US Coins Applied 1889 Rare Gorham Sterling Match Safe Alligator Pattern Real US Coins Applied 1889 $539.10
Rare Chinese Carved Floral Exotic Asian Wood Match Safe Vesta Rare Chinese Carved Floral Exotic Asian Wood Match Safe Vesta $9.99

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