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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Vintage ADVERTISING Celluloid 1903 Match Safe with hidden spring button RARE Vintage ADVERTISING Celluloid 1903 Match Safe with hidden spring button RARE $149.99
RARE BEAUTIFUL CHINESE EXPORT SILVER DRAGON VESTA CASE c1900 ANTIQUE RARE BEAUTIFUL CHINESE EXPORT SILVER DRAGON VESTA CASE c1900 ANTIQUE $224.83
Rare Design Antique Victorian Solid Silver Sampson Mordan Vesta Case 1886 Rare Design Antique Victorian Solid Silver Sampson Mordan Vesta Case 1886 $121.27
Antique Silver Vesta case Horse Racing Birmingham 1890  William Neale RARE Antique Silver Vesta case Horse Racing Birmingham 1890 William Neale RARE $579.11
Rare 19c Nickel Plated Brass Jennie Wade Gettysburg Civil War Match Safe Rare 19c Nickel Plated Brass Jennie Wade Gettysburg Civil War Match Safe $79.98
RARE C 1900 ANHEUSER BUSCH BUDWEISER MATCH SAFE SILVERPLATE RARE C 1900 ANHEUSER BUSCH BUDWEISER MATCH SAFE SILVERPLATE $125.00
INCREDIBLY RARE 1880s TIFFANY  CO STERLING SILVER ACID ETCH MATCH SAFE 8809 INCREDIBLY RARE 1880s TIFFANY CO STERLING SILVER ACID ETCH MATCH SAFE 8809 $675.00
Antique EPNS Silver MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE Match Strike RARE Antique EPNS Silver MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE Match Strike RARE $49.95
Rare Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Detailed Fly Fishing Match Safe 1905 Rare Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Detailed Fly Fishing Match Safe 1905 $413.10
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 $129.45

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