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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Very Rare Matchsafe Vesta Stamps Washington Brewery Co Washington DC 1892 Very Rare Matchsafe Vesta Stamps Washington Brewery Co Washington DC 1892 $149.95
RARE  BEAUTIFUL MEIJI PERIOD MIXED METALS MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE RARE BEAUTIFUL MEIJI PERIOD MIXED METALS MATCH SAFE VESTA CASE $450.00
Rare Pocket Match Safe  10 Diamond Match Books in Original Box match holder Rare Pocket Match Safe 10 Diamond Match Books in Original Box match holder $9.95
RARE 1890s COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BEER BREWERY ANTIQUE MATCH SAFE MILWAUKEE WI RARE 1890s COMPLIMENTS OF PABST BEER BREWERY ANTIQUE MATCH SAFE MILWAUKEE WI $149.99
Rare Antique Art Nouveau Repousse Vesta Case Ballerina and Nude Lady with Mirror Rare Antique Art Nouveau Repousse Vesta Case Ballerina and Nude Lady with Mirror $19.50
Rare Chinese Japanese Sterling Silver Dragon Vesta Case Match Safe Rare Chinese Japanese Sterling Silver Dragon Vesta Case Match Safe $189.99
Advertising Match Safe pre prohibition Rare Genesee Brewing Co Rochester NY rare Advertising Match Safe pre prohibition Rare Genesee Brewing Co Rochester NY rare $269.95
RARE Incredible ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE w NUDE FLOWERS CRANE RARE Incredible ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE w NUDE FLOWERS CRANE $375.00
1800s Gutta Percha Victorian Plastic Circus Scene Rare Match Safe Vesta 1800s Gutta Percha Victorian Plastic Circus Scene Rare Match Safe Vesta $99.00
Antique RARE Battin Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case Cowboy w Gun on Horse Antique RARE Battin Sterling Silver Match Safe Vesta Case Cowboy w Gun on Horse $950.00

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