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 ANTIQUE VICTORIAN VESTA CASE BABY IN BIG SHIRT BRASS MATCH SAFE c1880 RARE ANTIQUE VICTORIAN VESTA CASE BABY IN BIG SHIRT BRASS MATCH SAFE c1880 $185.00
vintage celluloid match safe parry buggies indianapolis in rare advertising sign vintage celluloid match safe parry buggies indianapolis in rare advertising sign $149.99
SHARPLES CREAM SEPARATORS MATCH SAFE Antique Rare PA MINT advertising SHARPLES CREAM SEPARATORS MATCH SAFE Antique Rare PA MINT advertising $132.27
RARE PORCELAIN ANTIQUE FISHES FIGURAL HANGING MATCHSAFE SPILLVASE ERNST BOHNE RARE PORCELAIN ANTIQUE FISHES FIGURAL HANGING MATCHSAFE SPILLVASE ERNST BOHNE $19.34
WL Marble Match Safe Ultra RareFirst ModelMarblesUSA Made in 1901 WL Marble Match Safe Ultra RareFirst ModelMarblesUSA Made in 1901 $149.00
Antique Match Safe Vesta French Match Holder Scenic Match Safe Rare Brass Antique Match Safe Vesta French Match Holder Scenic Match Safe Rare Brass $79.99
Rare Antique Sterling Silver Tiffany  Co Match Safe Pill Case Snuff Box Rare Antique Sterling Silver Tiffany Co Match Safe Pill Case Snuff Box $20.49
Rare Vesta Case Match Safe Advertising Black Cat Carreras Cigarettes Trick open Rare Vesta Case Match Safe Advertising Black Cat Carreras Cigarettes Trick open $443.64
Rare Antique Metal Kerosene Lamp Bracket with Built in Match Strike 5 Rare Antique Metal Kerosene Lamp Bracket with Built in Match Strike 5 $49.99
VINTAGE ALOHA NUI SILVER EMBOSSED MATCH SAFE ROYAL HAWAIIAN COAT OF ARMS RARE VINTAGE ALOHA NUI SILVER EMBOSSED MATCH SAFE ROYAL HAWAIIAN COAT OF ARMS RARE $74.99

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