Learn about Vesta Cases

In Roman mythology, Vesta was the goddess of hearth, home and family, and her presence was symbolised by the sacred fire that burned at her hearth and temples, inspiring several match companies to name their matches "vestas", the best known around 1900 being the "Swan Vestas" brand.

Vesta cases, also known as match safes were made to safely house a person's supply of matches, required because early matches were prone to combustion, either from the friction of rubbing together or spontaneous ignition.

Vesta cases came into use in the 1830s, but the peak period of their popularity was 1890 to 1920.

Most commonly they are silver, and rectangular in shape, with an end-opening spring-loaded close fitting lid at the top and a ribbed or serrated striking surface on the base.

Collectors seek out novelty shapes that include boots and shoes, bottles, snuff horns, animal heads, hearts, and circles.

However they were also made in gold, and enamel with silver, as well as cheaper materials such as brass and from nuts embellished with silver mounts.

One of the prolific makers of silver vesta cases was the firm Sampson Mordan & Co. more...

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Two Australian silver vesta boxes, Tilbary and Lewis, etc

Victorian sterling silver & glass match striker, hallmarked Birmingham 1897

Sterling silver vesta, with rose embossed decoration

Sterling silver vesta, hallmarked Birmingham 1910, William Hair Haseler, approx 24.4 grams

Sterling silver vesta, hallmarked Birmingham 1911 maker G.L, approx 451. grams, 6.5 cm length

Sterling silver match box case, hallmarked London 1894 maker William Comyns & sons, together with a boxed silver plated christening set

A Victorian silver match box, engraved floral decoration, hinged, vacant panel to front; S Blanckensee & Sons Ltd, Birmingham, 1900. Weight 23.1g.

A silver-plate horseshoe match case, with integral lighter; engine-turned.

An Edward VII silver match case, embossed with a horseshoe and bit to the front; Henry Matthews, Birmingham, 1906. Weight 16.6g.

Vesta case. Sterling silver large plain fob vesta hallmarked Chester 1902 5 x 5 cm

Vesta case. Decorated sterling silver hallmarked Birmingham 1900 5.5 x 3.5 cm

Vesta case. Small decorated sterling silver hallmarked Birmingham 1899 4.5 x 3 cm

Vesta case. Small decorated sterling silver hallmarked Birmingham 1896 3.5 x 5.5 cm

9ct gold round vesta, stamped PROUNDS 9ct 375, 16gms approc

A 19th century beaten copper temple bell, with Striker and stand, with accompanying striker and Negoro lacquer stand and silk pillow, 21x 14 cm

A sterling silver vesta case, hallmarked Chester 1905 with an enamel crest marked Benedictus engraved on reverse F.A.C 20th Anniversary 20/7/07

A sterling silver mounted match striker by James Deakin & Sons, Chester 1904

An Australian sterling silver cylinder vesta box with slip-on lid Grooved striker to base, probably AUSTN. C.1930s.

A sterling silver vesta box with applied Art Nouveau 'Girls Head' by Kate Harris for William Hutton & Sons, Birmingham, 1903

Two sterling silver match box covers of Rhomboid form (2) the first fitted with commercial strikers to sides, plain, lidded, engraved with initials 'A E' 13.7.22. Marked for S. Hoffring & Co., maker W.j.sanders, Sydney . the second a plain duplicate box

A late 19th century cylindrical turned wooden vesta box with slip on lid, probably 'Rose Mahogany'. Sterling figure of a 'Kangaroo' applied to lid and heavy silver banded 'Striker' plate to base (31g all in), maker unknown

A sterling silver book match case, fine engine-turned decoration enamelled 'Advance Australia' medallion applied on front. Marked for Hardy Bros. Ltd., 1934, maker: Magnus Goldring incorp Edwin Harrop, Sydney.

A hallmarked sterling silver vesta case, plain design, Birmingham 1916. Dimensions 45 x 38mm.

A George V silver vesta case, scrolled engraving, vacant cartouche; Smith & Bartlam, Chester, 1910. Weight 23.8g.

Edwardian sterling silver card case, with raised decoration, hallmarked Birmingham 1903 together with a sterling silver vesta hallmarked Birmingham 1924

Sterling silver vesta hallmarked Birmingham circa 1891 (William Neale & Son)

Victorian sterling silver vesta with sovereign case, hallmarked Chester 1896, 6.5 cm x 3 cm approx.

15ct rose gold vesta, weight of 32.3gms, marked '15ct and Fx&R'

Two hallmarked sterling silver vesta cases; Chester 1910, & Birmingham 1903