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 ART NOUVEAU LADY VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER MATCHSAFE WITH PHOTO LOCKET SIDE RARE ART NOUVEAU LADY VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER MATCHSAFE WITH PHOTO LOCKET SIDE $58.00
RARE DANISH STERLING SILVER CORD WICK VESTA CASE MATCHSAFE 1874 ANTIQUE RARE DANISH STERLING SILVER CORD WICK VESTA CASE MATCHSAFE 1874 ANTIQUE $155.58
Antique Advertising KING QUE Metal Match Safe Holder Rare Antique Advertising KING QUE Metal Match Safe Holder Rare $8.99
Rare 2004 IMSA 20 35 San Jose Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case Rare 2004 IMSA 20 35 San Jose Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case $310.00
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING ART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA FULL FIGURE WOMAN NO REPRO RARE ANTIQUE STERLING ART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA FULL FIGURE WOMAN NO REPRO $324.00
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 $599.99
Rare Antique American Sterling Silver Match safe Vesta Sailboat Rare Antique American Sterling Silver Match safe Vesta Sailboat $395.00
Rare Sterling Silver Clam Shell Match Safe Vesta American Rare Sterling Silver Clam Shell Match Safe Vesta American $695.00
Rare Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case IMSA Graham Southwest Zia NM Pendant Rare Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case IMSA Graham Southwest Zia NM Pendant $330.00
Antique Brass Match Safe Vesta Case Box Figural Brazil Nut RARE Antique Brass Match Safe Vesta Case Box Figural Brazil Nut RARE $280.00

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