A Review by Karen Freeman
Vesta Cases were invented in around 1840 and were made to house friction matches. These pocket-sized cases took their name from 'Vesta', the Roman Goddess of the hearth and home. A 'match' was known as a 'vesta' up until the twentieth century when 'match' became the favoured term. It became essential to carry the vestas in a case as they were highly flammable and needed to be kept dry. The inside of the case would often be gilded to protect the silver from the sulphur head of the match, which would otherwise tarnish the silver.
These small cases were initially adapted from snuff boxes, with the addition of a serrated striker. Vesta cases were in great use between the 1860's and 1940's as smoking became increasingly fashionable. They were carried predominantly by men in a waistcoat pocket or on a 'double Albert' chain, which held a pocket watch on one side and a vesta case on the other. The invention of the pocket petrol lighter initiated a decline in the need and use of the vesta case, during the first world war soldiers found the petrol lighter lasted longer and was easy to refill.
The vesta case can be found in all shapes and sizes, with engraved, chased or enamelled decoration and they were made from a variety of different materials.
I show below photos of a common example.
The majority of vesta cases were made and assayed in Birmingham, followed by London and then Chester, by makers such as Joseph Gloster, Deakin & Francis, A & J Zimmerman, C. Saunders & F.Shepherd to name but a few.
Vestas became very popular and can be found in the following forms:
Animals: Many common vestas were made in the form of birds and fish.
Sporting Themes : Golf balls, golf clubs and even footballs make interesting collectors items.
Novelty Vestas: Punch and Judy, rolled newspapers and many more make collecting vestas a fascinating hobby.
Art Noveau ; Period pieces and modern replicas always stand out in any collection.
Enamelled Vestas : Sporting scenes, nudes and erotica have all been popular.
Main areas to look for when Buying:-
Damage to the hinge or the lid not shutting properly.
If the metal spring is missing it prevents the lid from shutting tightly.
Knocks and dents, especially to the corners.
Poor erasure of initials and inscriptions.
The hallmarks are readable.
Splits in the silver along the natural seam as the case is made in two halves.
All ways view the eBayers feedback rating and always ask questions before you buy / bid. If in doubt leave it and look for another seller. Be sure to add me to your favourites list!
Silver Vestas Cigarette Cases