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 Leather Bound Victorian Book Matchsafe Antique Vintage Leather Match Safe
RARE Leather Bound Victorian Book Matchsafe Antique Vintage Leather Match Safe
$22.50

1900s Erotic Vesta Match Safe RARE Vintage Naughty Automated Matchsafe Look
1900s Erotic Vesta Match Safe RARE Vintage Naughty Automated Matchsafe Look
$1,995.00

VERY RARE VICTORIAN STANHOPE VESTA CASE MATCH SAFE MATCHSAFE MEMORY OF FORRES
VERY RARE VICTORIAN STANHOPE VESTA CASE MATCH SAFE MATCHSAFE MEMORY OF FORRES
$150.00

A RARE SOLID SILVER BUTTON SLIDE VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER
A RARE SOLID SILVER BUTTON SLIDE VESTA CASE MATCH HOLDER
$44.58

RARE ANTIQUE ROYAL HUNT BRYANT  MAY STAG HUNTING MATCH BOX VESTA CASE
RARE ANTIQUE ROYAL HUNT BRYANT MAY STAG HUNTING MATCH BOX VESTA CASE
$9.55

SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE 1903 STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE WTH SECRET PHOTO COMPARTMENT
SUPERB RARE ANTIQUE 1903 STERLING SILVER VESTA CASE WTH SECRET PHOTO COMPARTMENT
$38.22

Dragon Match Safe Unger Bros Sterling Silver Vesta Case Matchsafe RARE
Dragon Match Safe Unger Bros Sterling Silver Vesta Case Matchsafe RARE
$999.99

Best Made Co Brass MatchSafe  Made in USA  Extremely Rare
Best Made Co Brass MatchSafe Made in USA Extremely Rare
$195.00

RARE VINTAGE JOHN DEERE PLOW COMPANY MATCH SAFE HOLDER
RARE VINTAGE JOHN DEERE PLOW COMPANY MATCH SAFE HOLDER
$255.00

RARE ANTIQUE 1912 Brass VESTA MATCH HOLDER SAFE CASE w Unique LOCKING Lid 3
RARE ANTIQUE 1912 Brass VESTA MATCH HOLDER SAFE CASE w Unique LOCKING Lid 3
$225.00


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