Vesta box

traditional Gold Vesta boxes with striker plate and hinged lid.

available plain or engraved

   

John Walker, a chemist from Stockton-on-Tees, invented the match ( "Friction Lights") in 1826.They were ignited by placing the head of the light between a folded piece of sandpaper, then sharply withdrawing it.

In 1832 Richard Bell  started producing a new phosphorus match that had been invented by a young Frenchman named Charles Sauria. It had the great advantage that it would strike on anything hard.

But friction matches were hazardous (they could explode in one’s pocket) so they required protection in a fire-proof container that could be easily carried.  Early on many of these little cases became jewelry-like and masterfully made though the majority remained utilitarian and commercial.  Similar to the evolution of the snuff box, the  finest match safes were made from gold, silver or plate in  designs characteristic of the period. The late Georgians, and even more so the Victorians, Edwardians, and the fanciers of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, loved the strike-anywhere-match and they constructed ingenious and beautiful boxes in which to keep them.  As women picked up the smoking habit they, too, had an effect on the aesthetics of lighting devices. Match safes were known in England as vesta cases or vesta boxes or just vestas.

Vesta is the Roman goddess of the hearth fire. Vesta is one of the most ancient of the Roman deities, and her cult goes back to the 7th century BC.Vesta had one temple in Rome, the Temple of Vesta in the Forum Romanum. Inside the round temple burnt the eternal fire, the symbolic hearth of Rome and all the Roman people.
The fire was guarded by her priestesses, the Vestales who had to observe absolute chastity for 30 years (hence the name the Vestal virgins). The Romans celebrated Vestalia on June 7th.