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 Gorham Sterling Match Safe Alligator Pattern Real US Coins Applied 1889 Rare Gorham Sterling Match Safe Alligator Pattern Real US Coins Applied 1889 $599.00
Rare Gilbert Sterling Silver Repousse Match Safe Vesta Must See Rare Gilbert Sterling Silver Repousse Match Safe Vesta Must See $89.95
RARE 14K YELLOW GOLD VESTA CASE w GOLD  DIAMOND HORSEHOE 24 grams NR RARE 14K YELLOW GOLD VESTA CASE w GOLD DIAMOND HORSEHOE 24 grams NR $799.99
Rare Antique 1904 Intaglio Seal End Gilt Vesta Case Match Striker Gift Boxed Rare Antique 1904 Intaglio Seal End Gilt Vesta Case Match Striker Gift Boxed $123.24
RARE AMERICAN STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE CANDLE HOLDER BOX c1900 RARE AMERICAN STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE CANDLE HOLDER BOX c1900 $376.22
Antique Sterling Silver Vesta Case With Enamel Lady Golfer Portrait 1908 RARE UK Antique Sterling Silver Vesta Case With Enamel Lady Golfer Portrait 1908 RARE UK $268.45
VERY RARE COPPERART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFEVESTA 1900S FRENCH GREAT CASE MUST SEE VERY RARE COPPERART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFEVESTA 1900S FRENCH GREAT CASE MUST SEE $265.00
Silver  Enamel Vesta Case Made In London 1877 In The Form of A Shoe Very Rare Silver Enamel Vesta Case Made In London 1877 In The Form of A Shoe Very Rare $4,540.55
Stunning Rare Victorian Solid Silver Heart Shaped Vesta Case Birmingham 1898 Stunning Rare Victorian Solid Silver Heart Shaped Vesta Case Birmingham 1898 $188.11
RARE EARLY ANTIQUE VICTORIAN HM SOLID SILVER STERLING VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1889 RARE EARLY ANTIQUE VICTORIAN HM SOLID SILVER STERLING VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1889 $97.30

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