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 vintage Match Safe Advertising RARE Antique vintage Match Safe Advertising $9.99
Rare Matchsafe NUDE Vesta GLOBE Newspaper Pittsburgh Weir Iola Kansas c1890s Rare Matchsafe NUDE Vesta GLOBE Newspaper Pittsburgh Weir Iola Kansas c1890s $89.95
RARE Antique vintage Match Safe Advertising And Cigar Cigarette Cutter RARE Antique vintage Match Safe Advertising And Cigar Cigarette Cutter $9.99
Rare Matchsafe Vesta Washington Brewery Dietz Restaurant Washington DC c 1900 Rare Matchsafe Vesta Washington Brewery Dietz Restaurant Washington DC c 1900 $89.95
RARE antique cast iron frog match safe advertising Garland Stoves and Ranges RARE antique cast iron frog match safe advertising Garland Stoves and Ranges $51.00
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE SALAMANDERS MOTIF RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE SALAMANDERS MOTIF $166.00
Rare Chinese Japanese Sterling Silver Dragon Vesta Case Match Safe Rare Chinese Japanese Sterling Silver Dragon Vesta Case Match Safe $149.99
Rare Sterling HAYDEN MFG CO Match Safe HUNTING DOG motif c1904 Rare Sterling HAYDEN MFG CO Match Safe HUNTING DOG motif c1904 $229.00
Rare Antique Whiting  Co Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case Rare Antique Whiting Co Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case $250.00
Blackinton Rare Antique Sterling Silver Figural Tiger In Jungle Match Safe Blackinton Rare Antique Sterling Silver Figural Tiger In Jungle Match Safe $995.00

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