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 ANTIQUE EARLY VICTORIAN MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE FLORAL PATD SEPT 30 1884 RARE ANTIQUE EARLY VICTORIAN MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE FLORAL PATD SEPT 30 1884 $68.00
RARE 1890s COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BEER BREWERY ANTIQUE MATCH SAFE MILWAUKEE WI RARE 1890s COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BEER BREWERY ANTIQUE MATCH SAFE MILWAUKEE WI $129.99
Rare Vintage Vesta Case In The Form Of Shoe Match Safe Rare Vintage Vesta Case In The Form Of Shoe Match Safe $99.00
Rare Dewars Scotch whisky match safe c 1910 silver plated brass Rare Dewars Scotch whisky match safe c 1910 silver plated brass $24.99
Rare Sterling HAYDEN MFG CO Match Safe HUNTING DOG motif c1904 Rare Sterling HAYDEN MFG CO Match Safe HUNTING DOG motif c1904 $229.00
RARE Incredible ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE w NUDE FLOWERS CRANE RARE Incredible ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE w NUDE FLOWERS CRANE $325.00
Antique Sterling Silver Bulldog Match Safe Rare Antique Sterling Silver Bulldog Match Safe Rare $175.00
Antique Rare Repousse Advertising Match safe Colorado Stockyards Tobaccocana Antique Rare Repousse Advertising Match safe Colorado Stockyards Tobaccocana $499.00
THE AUSTIN WESTERN COMPANY Chicago Ill Celluloid Wrapped Match Safe RARE THE AUSTIN WESTERN COMPANY Chicago Ill Celluloid Wrapped Match Safe RARE $249.00
RARE ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE 2 1 2 X 1 5 8 VERY NICE CONDITION RARE ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE 2 1 2 X 1 5 8 VERY NICE CONDITION $175.50

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