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 cast iron turtle animal figural vtg match safe unique rare artifact Antique cast iron turtle animal figural vtg match safe unique rare artifact $14.26
VINTAGE COPPER MATCH SAFE NU GRAPE SODA VERY RARE VINTAGE COPPER MATCH SAFE NU GRAPE SODA VERY RARE $49.99
VERY RARE ANTIQUE SILVER BLACK NIELLO VESTA CASE IN IMMACULATE CONDITION VERY RARE ANTIQUE SILVER BLACK NIELLO VESTA CASE IN IMMACULATE CONDITION $383.08
Rare BAR BUM CAST METAL DRUNK RAILROAD HOBO MATCHSAFE STRIKER  BOTTLE OPENER Rare BAR BUM CAST METAL DRUNK RAILROAD HOBO MATCHSAFE STRIKER BOTTLE OPENER $27.00
Rare Victorian Match Safe Repousse Griffin Jewel Eye Sterling Silver Vesta Rare Victorian Match Safe Repousse Griffin Jewel Eye Sterling Silver Vesta $399.00
Rare Vintage Victorian 1895 Solid Sterling Silver Hallmarked Vesta Case 22g Rare Vintage Victorian 1895 Solid Sterling Silver Hallmarked Vesta Case 22g $69.58
Orange Crush Porcelain Match Strike Striker Sign Rare Orange Crush Porcelain Match Strike Striker Sign Rare $344.87
Rare  Beautiful Solid Silver Art Nouveau French Vesta Case Circa 1890 Rare Beautiful Solid Silver Art Nouveau French Vesta Case Circa 1890 $289.27
Rare Novelty Victorian 1886 Silver Vesta Case Enamelled Punch Magazine Cover Rare Novelty Victorian 1886 Silver Vesta Case Enamelled Punch Magazine Cover $859.98
RARE Antique Victorian Match Safe Crown Design RARE Antique Victorian Match Safe Crown Design $9.99

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