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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Antique 1860 1870 Civil War Era Embossed Tinned Steel Match Safe Case Vesta RARE Antique 1860 1870 Civil War Era Embossed Tinned Steel Match Safe Case Vesta RARE $39.99
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 $139.00
ANTIQUE RARE PIG MATCH SAFE WITH STRIKE 53 mm x 23 mm x 12 mm VERY NICE ANTIQUE RARE PIG MATCH SAFE WITH STRIKE 53 mm x 23 mm x 12 mm VERY NICE $175.00
Rare Matchsafe Vesta Frittz Reuter Hotel  Saloon Washington DC c 1890 Rare Matchsafe Vesta Frittz Reuter Hotel Saloon Washington DC c 1890 $99.95
ASPREY London Vintage Antique MATCH SAFE CASE ENGLAND Hallmarked Rare Cigarette ASPREY London Vintage Antique MATCH SAFE CASE ENGLAND Hallmarked Rare Cigarette $295.00
Rare Antique Sterling Silver MATCH SAFE Vesta Case Arab Man in Turban Rare Antique Sterling Silver MATCH SAFE Vesta Case Arab Man in Turban $379.99
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
Vintage Matchbook Vesta Case Art Deco Period No Monogram Rare Item Vintage Matchbook Vesta Case Art Deco Period No Monogram Rare Item $10.00
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

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