Vesta cases, also known as matchsafes, are small, attractive portable boxes. These have snapshut covers to keep the matches dry. In fact, vestas are similar to matches, though are shorter and often made of wax. The name originates from the name of the Roman goddess Vesta, deity of fire. Vestas came into use in the 1830s.
The wax vesta cases
William Newton patented the ‘wax vesta’ in England in 1832. In addition, in the 1830s various similar matches appeared. Most people carried a vesta case in their pocket. Manufacturers used brass for
cheaper models . Even so, wealthy people preferred them in gold or silver.
Types and patterns
Subsequently, many appeared throughout the world including the USA, continental Europe and Australia. There were hundreds of different types and patterns, many very unusual. For example, metal pigs with hinged heads, hearts, skulls, owls, ladies’ legs and so on. In addition, they might be made of tortoiseshell, bakelite or ceramics. Not to mention gunmetal, ivory and wood as well as gold or silver.
Vesta cases contained the vesta matchcovers, usually a folding cardboard device with striker on the base. Many bore advertisements. In addition night clubs or restaurants , gave away matchcovers as a form of publicity. Not only, the Gillette Company produced a brass razor blade case with ribbed bottom. Thus, it could be used as a vesta case when the razor blades were finished.
Where to find vesta cases
Many vesta cases can be found in antique fairs or shops at varying prices. With this in mind, online offers should also be consulted. For example: A Japanese silver vesta case $50. An art nouveau silver matchsafe decorated with a man and woman in Greek robes, $150. An art nouveau silver vesta case pendant, $160. A curiosity: Phillumeny is the name given to the hobby of collecting match-related items such as matchcovers and labels.