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 English Sterling Silver Figural DEVIL Head Matchsafe Vesta Case RARE English Sterling Silver Figural DEVIL Head Matchsafe Vesta Case $600.00
Figural Horse Shoe Vesta Case Matchsafe with Tindercord attachment Rare Figural Horse Shoe Vesta Case Matchsafe with Tindercord attachment Rare $125.00
Rare vintage figural Vesta Case Cat and Mouse in a Shoe Match Safe Matchsafe Rare vintage figural Vesta Case Cat and Mouse in a Shoe Match Safe Matchsafe $195.00
RARE Antique Silver VESTA Case 1914 Concealed LOCKET RARE Antique Silver VESTA Case 1914 Concealed LOCKET $323.09
RARE FORM PAINTED CAST IRON ROWBOAT MATCHSAFE MATCH SAFE RARE FORM PAINTED CAST IRON ROWBOAT MATCHSAFE MATCH SAFE $110.00
RARE LARGE ANTIQUE VICTORIAN SOLID SILVER PATENT VESTA CASE RARE LARGE ANTIQUE VICTORIAN SOLID SILVER PATENT VESTA CASE $145.06
RARE VICTORIAN STERLING SILVER COMMEMORATIVE VESTA CASE 1896 ANTIQUE ROYALTY RARE VICTORIAN STERLING SILVER COMMEMORATIVE VESTA CASE 1896 ANTIQUE ROYALTY $125.28
1922 MATCH SAFERICHELIEU AUTOMOBILES1 KNOWNCHRIS CRAFtAVIATION AIRSHIP RARE 1922 MATCH SAFERICHELIEU AUTOMOBILES1 KNOWNCHRIS CRAFtAVIATION AIRSHIP RARE $499.99
Vintage Sampson Mordan Silver  Gold Vesta Case Rare Vintage Sampson Mordan Silver Gold Vesta Case Rare $197.81
RARE VINTAGE SLIDE ACTION HM SOLID STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1925 RARE VINTAGE SLIDE ACTION HM SOLID STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1925 $164.84

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