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 Double Pocket Wall Match Safe Holder Ornate Victorian Rare Antique Cast Iron Double Pocket Wall Match Safe Holder Ornate Victorian Rare $9.99
RARE ART NOUVEAU LADY VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER MATCHSAFE WITH PHOTO LOCKET SIDE RARE ART NOUVEAU LADY VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER MATCHSAFE WITH PHOTO LOCKET SIDE $46.00
Antique Novelty Vesta Match Safe  Striker Of Baby With Rattle VERY RARE Antique Novelty Vesta Match Safe Striker Of Baby With Rattle VERY RARE $39.95
Rare Robert E Lee Confederate Match Safe Civil War Comemorative Rare Robert E Lee Confederate Match Safe Civil War Comemorative $185.00
Antique Rare Repousse Advertising Match safe Colorado Stockyards Tobaccocana Antique Rare Repousse Advertising Match safe Colorado Stockyards Tobaccocana $499.00
RARE Antique Figural Brass PIG Match Safe Striker Box Holder Snuff England c1890 RARE Antique Figural Brass PIG Match Safe Striker Box Holder Snuff England c1890 $99.95
Vintage Match Safe Vesta Scarab Match Holder Figural Match Holder Rare Scarab Vintage Match Safe Vesta Scarab Match Holder Figural Match Holder Rare Scarab $89.99
Rare Vintage Match Safe INDEPENDENT COAL Co Advertising Rare Vintage Match Safe INDEPENDENT COAL Co Advertising $89.99
Rare American Sterling Silver Spirit Of 76 Patriotic Design Match Safe Vesta SL Rare American Sterling Silver Spirit Of 76 Patriotic Design Match Safe Vesta SL $985.00
Rare Sterling TIFFANY  CO Match Safe w engraved scenes of birds foliage c1870 Rare Sterling TIFFANY CO Match Safe w engraved scenes of birds foliage c1870 $495.00

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