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 ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER GOLF MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1907 RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER GOLF MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1907 $353.00
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER FOOTBALL SOCCER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE 1892 RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER FOOTBALL SOCCER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE 1892 $371.58
RARE DESIGN ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1903 RARE DESIGN ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1903 $173.40
RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER BULLDOG MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1906 RARE ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER BULLDOG MATCHSAFE VESTA CASE BIRMINGHAM 1906 $365.39
Victorian 15ct solid gold vesta case matchsafe rare Gentleman  dog engraving Victorian 15ct solid gold vesta case matchsafe rare Gentleman dog engraving $1,232.41
rare old cigar store advertising match safe rare old cigar store advertising match safe $95.00
Vintage 1930S Marbles Match Safe RARE BSA Box USA in Gladstone Mi Vintage 1930S Marbles Match Safe RARE BSA Box USA in Gladstone Mi $54.95
Rare Sterling BLACKINTON Match Safe ART NOUVEAU w Fish Swimming in Water Rare Sterling BLACKINTON Match Safe ART NOUVEAU w Fish Swimming in Water $595.00
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 $595.00
Antique Ornate Metal Wall Match Safe Military  High Pair Boots With Rats RARE Antique Ornate Metal Wall Match Safe Military High Pair Boots With Rats RARE $54.99

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