• Elaine, nicholsons_jewellers

Strike a Light – Converting an Antique Accessory into a Contemporary Design

Updated: Apr 24, 2019

There was a time in bygone era when no self-respecting gentleman would consider himself properly dressed without his Albert chain – in either silver or gold – and, in the case of the double Alberts, although his pocket watch hung from one end, there were numerous useful or decorative items hanging from the other end. One of these items was quite often a Vesta case, which is a small container for matches. Dating from around the 1830s they were produced extensively durning the late 1800s up to around the 1920s when pocket watches fell into a decline after the First World War and wrist-watches started to become the norm. Named Vestas after one of the early manufcturers who, in turn took the name Vesta from the Roman Goddess of Fire, their distinguishing feature is a ribbed edge along the bottom of the box along which matches could be struck. A variety of materials were used from silver or gold for the better-off to tin and brass for a poorer market, ivory or bone to leather and, in the later examples, bakelite.

Larger versions of the vesta were produced for use in the home.

Whilst the majority of vestas were rectangular shaped others were produced as round or even novelty shapes, many decorated with enamel, and these latter versions are extremely collectible.

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