Antique sterling silver agate vesta case made in the 1890’s
A brief history on vesta cases:
Unlike safety matches today, the early matches that were able to be lit solely by striking it across a surface, were called lucifer matches and were first produced in 1826. These matches could ignite spontaneously from the heat of friction, sometimes quite explosively, and were therefore a potential danger if carried loosely in the pocket. Imagine a Western movie of the 1940’s and 50’s, where the cowboy could literally strike a match against the heel of his boot to light it, or against the unshaven face of his opponent. Because they could light so easily, these “new” matches were housed inside a case called a vesta.
Named after the Roman deity of fire and the hearth, Vesta, the vesta case was immensely popular and were produced extensively from the 1830’s right up to the Art Deco period of the 1920’s and 30’s. With higher quality ones being made in sterling silver, these were often small works of art by being engraved beautifully or decorated with enamel scenes.