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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SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE L1907 SOLID SILVER COMBINED VESTA CASE  SEALING WAX HOLDER SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE L1907 SOLID SILVER COMBINED VESTA CASE SEALING WAX HOLDER $112.34
A Rare Victorian Brass Pig Vesta Case A Rare Victorian Brass Pig Vesta Case $117.02
Sterling Rare Design Match Safe By William B Kerr Nude Venus Type Woman Lady Sterling Rare Design Match Safe By William B Kerr Nude Venus Type Woman Lady $174.00
RARE old hand painted oriental themed match safe match holder RARE old hand painted oriental themed match safe match holder $9.99
Rare Solid Silver Art Deco Vesta Case Chester 1928 Walker  Hall Rare Solid Silver Art Deco Vesta Case Chester 1928 Walker Hall $15.59
Vintage Tin Metal Matchbox Holder Match Safe Country Kitchen Hallmark RARE Vintage Tin Metal Matchbox Holder Match Safe Country Kitchen Hallmark RARE $10.00
Vintage Rare Plated Figural Pig Boar Match Safe Holder Vesta Vintage Rare Plated Figural Pig Boar Match Safe Holder Vesta $49.95
Rare Chew Tobacco match safe With horse Rare Chew Tobacco match safe With horse $50.00
RARE STUNNING GEORGE W SHIEBLER  CO AMERICAN SILVER VESTA CASE RARE STUNNING GEORGE W SHIEBLER CO AMERICAN SILVER VESTA CASE $109.14
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER FILIGREE MATCH SAFE RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER FILIGREE MATCH SAFE $295.00

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