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 1880S ANTIQUE BRASS  GERMAN SILVER DOG HEAD MATCH SAFE POLICE WHISTLE RARE 1880S ANTIQUE BRASS GERMAN SILVER DOG HEAD MATCH SAFE POLICE WHISTLE $295.00
Rare Art Nouveau Unger Bros match safe sterling c 1905 young lady w flowers Rare Art Nouveau Unger Bros match safe sterling c 1905 young lady w flowers $150.00
Rare Matchsafe Vesta Dunworths Buffet Saloon Washington DC c1890s Rare Matchsafe Vesta Dunworths Buffet Saloon Washington DC c1890s $79.95
Blackinton Rare Antique Sterling Silver Figural Tiger In Jungle Match Safe Blackinton Rare Antique Sterling Silver Figural Tiger In Jungle Match Safe $1,200.00
Antique Rare Pig Match Safe Holder Case Vesta With Orig Matches Miniature Antique Rare Pig Match Safe Holder Case Vesta With Orig Matches Miniature $89.95
RARE ANTIQUE SILVER 947 MATCH SAFE WITH MONKEYSFLOWERS AND VINES RARE ANTIQUE SILVER 947 MATCH SAFE WITH MONKEYSFLOWERS AND VINES $230.00
RARE Antique golf vesta case with chain and golf fob Silver plate early 1900 RARE Antique golf vesta case with chain and golf fob Silver plate early 1900 $65.00
Rare Matchsafe Vesta M Deperow Electrical Washington DC c1890s Rare Matchsafe Vesta M Deperow Electrical Washington DC c1890s $99.95
Antique Rare Match Safe Holder w Crescent Moon Face and Stars Ornate Design T Antique Rare Match Safe Holder w Crescent Moon Face and Stars Ornate Design T $59.00
Vintage RARE Solid Sterling Silver RHINOCEROS Match Safe Vesta  Red Eyes M44 Vintage RARE Solid Sterling Silver RHINOCEROS Match Safe Vesta Red Eyes M44 $650.00

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