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 ART NOUVEAU LADY VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER MATCHSAFE WITH PHOTO LOCKET SIDE RARE ART NOUVEAU LADY VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER MATCHSAFE WITH PHOTO LOCKET SIDE $69.00
SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER GOLFER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRM 1905 SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER GOLFER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRM 1905 $326.21
DAB David Bowles Sterling Silver Vesta Case Match Safe RARE CAMEL Shape 925 DAB David Bowles Sterling Silver Vesta Case Match Safe RARE CAMEL Shape 925 $249.00
RARE FRENCH NAUGHTY DOUBLE SIDE NUDE ENAMEL GILT BRASS MATCH SAFE VESTA C 1900 RARE FRENCH NAUGHTY DOUBLE SIDE NUDE ENAMEL GILT BRASS MATCH SAFE VESTA C 1900 $395.00
RARE Antique Figural Brass PIG Match Safe Striker Box Holder Snuff England c1890 RARE Antique Figural Brass PIG Match Safe Striker Box Holder Snuff England c1890 $99.95
Rare Robert E Lee Confederate Match Safe Civil War Comemorative Rare Robert E Lee Confederate Match Safe Civil War Comemorative $365.00
Rare Heavy Austrian Bermann Bronze Erotic Gentlemans Match Safe 6  t Rare Heavy Austrian Bermann Bronze Erotic Gentlemans Match Safe 6 t $595.00
Rare Antique Japanese Gorham Silver Plate Kappa Monster Match Safe Creature Rare Antique Japanese Gorham Silver Plate Kappa Monster Match Safe Creature $299.99
Rare Antique Figural French Devil Satan Match Safe Glass Eyes Original Not Copy Rare Antique Figural French Devil Satan Match Safe Glass Eyes Original Not Copy $199.99
Rare Sterling BLACKINTON Match Safe ART NOUVEAU w Fish Swimming in Water Rare Sterling BLACKINTON Match Safe ART NOUVEAU w Fish Swimming in Water $595.00

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