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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Sterling silver vesta, Sheffield 1897 by Mappin and Webb

A gold vesta case, plain polished, circular form. 9ct yellow gold. Weight 17.30 grams. Diameter 47mm. Birmingham hallmarks, 1850. Makers mark D&E.

Victorian silver collar with hallmarked vesta, Chester 1905

Two silver vesta cases, both with an enamel panel, one depicting a horse, the other a dog, scrolled detail.

A Victorian silver vesta case, engraved with floral decoration, initialled to front of case; Rolason Bros, Birmingham, 1898.

A Victorian silver match case, scrolled rose gold gilt detail, engraved G.S.C. To front and 1882 to rear of case; marks obscured, possibly French.

Sterling silver vesta, hallmarked Birmingham 1938, 18 grams approx

A silver vesta case, embossed with a golfing scene.

A sterling silver vesta case, Hallmarks dated 1919, Birmingham. Length 4 cm

Australian sterling silver vesta box, by Fairfax and Roberts

A Victorian sterling silver vesta case, depicting golfer, unknown maker, Birmingham, 1881. Weight 15.4g

English hallmarked sterling silver Elizabeth II vesta case in the form of an ass, with a hinged mouth in the shaped of a mans head. London, 1978, maker Dss. Condition excellent to good, minor wear. Length 6 cm. Weight 27.5 cm

Edwardian sterling silver vesta case, with 9ct gold overlay, hallmarked Birmingham 1902 (S&B), 4.2 cm high

A German silver vesta case, the lid with cartouche of 18th century rural figures, 71gm.

Victorian sterling silver vesta and a plate vinaigrette, marked Birmingham, 1895, HM, 23g

A gold vesta/Sovereign case, 145ct yellow gold, antique, inscribed to case front 1.12.1914, presented as a rounded rectangular shaped case double hinged to reveal a single sovereign sprung case to one end and a vesta cast to other with strike, completed wi

Two brass vesta boxes, early 20th century Commen Flip top & bottom book shaped, (2) for Coronation of Edward VII UK and cylindrical Marbles patent, "Waterproof" box, Gladstone, Michigan USA. Provenance: Ken Cavill collection

Black Cat Cigarettes vesta case, early 20th century. Of rectangular form, designed with a hidden sprung clasp integrated into the lid and match strikers beneath, the cover decorated with an amusing Black Cat Cigarettes, Carreras Ltd. advertisement depictin

Two Scottish sycamore vesta boxes and a Swiss box (3), one with applied Tartan decoration, the second with multiple layer opening and a Swiss box with carved edelweiss to lid, slide opening and RIGI KULM c.1900. Provenance: Ken Cavill collection

A sterling silver Monogrammed vesta box, Birmingham 1919, Makers mark 'CSC & Co.' retailers mark 'Frasers Ltd Brisbane.' monogram 'RLW'.

A sterling silver vesta case, embossed with dragon. Length 6.5 cm weight 19.2g

Victorian sterling silver combination vesta with sovereign case compartment, hallmarked Chester 1896 (Cohen & Charles), 8 cm long approx.

Small hallmarked sterling silver vesta hallmarked Birmingham 1939

Rare antique brass and tortoiseshell vesta in the shape of a green sea turtle, 6 cm long approx

Art Nouveau silver plated vesta, with raised maiden figure, 3.3 cm x 6 cm approx.

Vintage silver filigree vesta, with scrolled flower decoration, 4 cm x 6 cm approx.

Antique American sterling silver vesta, marked Sterling, 3.5 cm x 7 cm approx.

Art Nouveau sterling silver vesta, with grape vine design, marked sterling, 4 cm x 6.5 cm approx.

Art Nouveau sterling silver vesta, with scrolls & flowers design, marked sterling, 4.5 cm x 7 cm approx.

Sterling silver vesta set with 1921 gold sovereign, (Sydney Mint) vesta stamped 925, 47grams approx in total, Walker & Hall mark.

Antique Sterling silver vesta with bright cut engraved flowers. Hallmarked for Walker & Hall, Chester. C.1911. Approx 31g