Antique Sterling Silver Vesta, Birmingham, 1905
Antique Sterling Silver Heart-Shaped Vesta, Birmingham, 1905. All over hand engraved vine leaf decoration with an unengraved cartouche. Gilt washed interior. Length 5cm. Width 3.4cm. Weight 14.7 grams.
Marked with the Lion Passant, the assay mark denoting sterling standard of purity, the anchor for Birmingham, A J for maker Albert Jackson, and f for date stamp.
Vestas were gold, silver or silver-plated cases just large enough to contain a quantity of matches required for a day’s smoking. Vesta cases prevented matches from becoming damp and therefore useless and would also protect the smoker from the dangerous matches.
Vesta cases were introduced in the early 19th century following the manufacture of friction ‘lucifer’ matches in 1826. These matches could ignite spontaneously, often explosively, and were a potential danger if carried loosely in the pocket. The inside of the vesta case would often be gilded to protect the silver from the sulphurous head of the match, which would otherwise tarnish the silver. The majority of vesta cases have a hinged cover and a ring loop attachment to allow suspension. Many examples have a serrated lower border to allow matches to be struck alight.
Condition: Very good vintage condition. Quite solid construction, no give in the case when pressed between thumb and forefinger. However someone does appear to have attempted to etch a name on the front scrolling panel, it is faint but it is there. A jeweller would buff it out again quite easily. Vesta closing firmly. Hallmarks clear.