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 Rare Chinese Dragon Symbolic vesta case match safe matchsafe 19th centur Antique Rare Chinese Dragon Symbolic vesta case match safe matchsafe 19th centur $125.00
A RARE LARGE SOLID SILVER VESTA CASE A RARE LARGE SOLID SILVER VESTA CASE $103.36
Rare And Unusual Sailor Hero Vesta Case Rare And Unusual Sailor Hero Vesta Case $130.84
Rare Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Wallace  Sons Pheasant Match Safe Rare Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Wallace Sons Pheasant Match Safe $359.10
Rare Edwardian Silver  Enamel Brown Trout Vesta Case Birmingham1905 Rare Edwardian Silver Enamel Brown Trout Vesta Case Birmingham1905 $425.23
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 $124.30
Vintage Sampson Mordan Silver  Gold Vesta Case Rare Vintage Sampson Mordan Silver Gold Vesta Case Rare $196.26
RARE SILVER ENAMEL VESTA CASE SHROPSHIRE OSWESTRY COAT OF ARMS BHAM 1914 RARE SILVER ENAMEL VESTA CASE SHROPSHIRE OSWESTRY COAT OF ARMS BHAM 1914 $340.18
RARE STERLING ART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA FULL FIGURE WOMAN NO REPRO REDUCED RARE STERLING ART NOUVEAU MATCH SAFE VESTA FULL FIGURE WOMAN NO REPRO REDUCED $324.00
A Very Rare Victorian Silver Vesta Case With Essex Crystal Panel of Game Birds A Very Rare Victorian Silver Vesta Case With Essex Crystal Panel of Game Birds $13,084.00

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