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 American Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Lion Figure Circa 1906 Rare American Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Lion Figure Circa 1906 $595.00
Rare Antique Coalport Match Safe Striker 19thc NR Rare Antique Coalport Match Safe Striker 19thc NR $51.75
VERY RARE COPPERART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFEVESTA 1900S FRENCH GREAT CASE MUST SEE VERY RARE COPPERART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFEVESTA 1900S FRENCH GREAT CASE MUST SEE $265.00
RARE STERLING ART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA FULL FIGURE WOMAN NO REPRO REDUCED RARE STERLING ART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA FULL FIGURE WOMAN NO REPRO REDUCED $324.00
RARE Antique RULLMAN Chevrolet Dealer Saint Joseph Missouri matchsafe c1911 RARE Antique RULLMAN Chevrolet Dealer Saint Joseph Missouri matchsafe c1911 $99.99
RARE FRENCH SOLID SILVER BASKET EFFECT VESTA CASE c1900 ANTIQUE RARE FRENCH SOLID SILVER BASKET EFFECT VESTA CASE c1900 ANTIQUE $169.69
Rare 1920s Yamanaka  Co Japan Sterling Silver Carved Jade Match Safe Dragons Rare 1920s Yamanaka Co Japan Sterling Silver Carved Jade Match Safe Dragons $99.99
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER MATCH SAFE BY UNGER BROS RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER MATCH SAFE BY UNGER BROS $386.10
AH 073 Queen Victoria Match Safe Vesta 1887 Perry  Co Steel Pen Makers RARE AH 073 Queen Victoria Match Safe Vesta 1887 Perry Co Steel Pen Makers RARE $100.00
RARE 14K YELLOW GOLD VESTA CASE w GOLD  DIAMOND HORSEHOE 24 grams NR RARE 14K YELLOW GOLD VESTA CASE w GOLD DIAMOND HORSEHOE 24 grams NR $799.99

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