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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A RARE VICTORIAN VESTA MATSH SAFE WITH A WHISTLE MATCHSAFE A RARE VICTORIAN VESTA MATSH SAFE WITH A WHISTLE MATCHSAFE $43.44
Rare  Unusual Solid Silver Sampson Mordan Vesta Case Chester 1906 Rare Unusual Solid Silver Sampson Mordan Vesta Case Chester 1906 $564.68
VINTAGE MATCH SAFE IDAN HA HOTEL BOISE IDAHO EARLY 1900S EMBOSSED INDIAN RARE VINTAGE MATCH SAFE IDAN HA HOTEL BOISE IDAHO EARLY 1900S EMBOSSED INDIAN RARE $1,200.00
RARE FORM PAINTED CAST IRON ROWBOAT MATCHSAFE MATCH SAFE RARE FORM PAINTED CAST IRON ROWBOAT MATCHSAFE MATCH SAFE $140.00
RARE C 1900 ANHEUSER BUSCH BUDWEISER MATCH SAFE SILVERPLATE RARE C 1900 ANHEUSER BUSCH BUDWEISER MATCH SAFE SILVERPLATE $125.00
Leather workers union match safe holder rare piece Leather workers union match safe holder rare piece $75.00
Rare Antique 1897 Sterling Silver Heart Vesta Case Match Box Striker Gift Boxed Rare Antique 1897 Sterling Silver Heart Vesta Case Match Box Striker Gift Boxed $325.78
Rare sliver gilt vesta case circa 1830 1858 Rare sliver gilt vesta case circa 1830 1858 $267.86
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER MERMAID VESTA CASE RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER MERMAID VESTA CASE $95.00
1892 Very RAREChicago Worlds Fair UNCLE SAM MATCH SAFE Columbian Exposition 1892 Very RAREChicago Worlds Fair UNCLE SAM MATCH SAFE Columbian Exposition $899.00

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