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 Silver Match Safe US Coin  Crocodile Design Monogrammed
Rare Gorham Sterling Silver Match Safe US Coin Crocodile Design Monogrammed
$225.00
RARE  1911 STERLING ALLIGATOR MATCH SAFE BARNETT BANK JACKSONVILLEFLA
RARE 1911 STERLING ALLIGATOR MATCH SAFE BARNETT BANK JACKSONVILLEFLA
$799.99
Buy It Now for only: $799.99
RARE UNGER BROTHERS ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE VESTA DOUBLE SIDED REPOUSSE
RARE UNGER BROTHERS ART NOUVEAU STERLING MATCH SAFE VESTA DOUBLE SIDED REPOUSSE
$995.00
Buy It Now for only: $995.00
Rare Antique Sterling Silver Match Safe Audubon Motif Aesthetic Movement
Rare Antique Sterling Silver Match Safe Audubon Motif Aesthetic Movement
$560.00
Buy It Now for only: $560.00
Rare Vintage 925 Sterling Silver Dog Face Vesta Case Hallmarked DAB
Rare Vintage 925 Sterling Silver Dog Face Vesta Case Hallmarked DAB
$999.99
Buy It Now for only: $999.99
Rare Chinese Japanese Sterling Silver Dragon Vesta Case Match Safe
Rare Chinese Japanese Sterling Silver Dragon Vesta Case Match Safe
$119.99
Buy It Now for only: $119.99
Rare Copper  Sterling Silver Vesta Case Match Safe
Rare Copper Sterling Silver Vesta Case Match Safe
$59.00
Buy It Now for only: $59.00
RARE GORHAM STERLING SILVER MATCH SAFE STYLE CIGARETTE CASE HAND ENGRAVED SCENE
RARE GORHAM STERLING SILVER MATCH SAFE STYLE CIGARETTE CASE HAND ENGRAVED SCENE
$184.80
Antique Cast Iron Rare Figural Ape Match Safe Holder
Antique Cast Iron Rare Figural Ape Match Safe Holder
$125.00 (46 Bids)
Very Rare Antique Travel Bedside Hand Forged Silver Match Safe w Candle
Very Rare Antique Travel Bedside Hand Forged Silver Match Safe w Candle
$450.00
Buy It Now for only: $450.00

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