Finely-Cast Wise Owl Matchsafe (LEO Design)

Vesta was the Roman goddess of family, home and hearth—a virgin symbolized by the flame which would burn at her temples throughout the Empire.  Her name is believed to be derived from the word “to burn” and her Greek equivalent was Hestia. “Vestal Virgins” were the women dedicated to serving Vesta in her temples.  Vesta was also the name of an early English match company and their product was often popularly referred to as “vestas.” And, in England at least, the term vesta still is used to identify a “match safe”—the small, portable, and often decorative box used to hold matches.  They were meant to keep matches dry and to keep them from igniting inadvertently.  Jewelers, sculptors and other product designers created many interesting and beautiful versions, including the wonderfully-sculpted owl, shown above.  Vestas first became popular in the 1830’s, though the heyday of vesta production is the period from 1890 to 1920—after which pocket lighters replaced the simple “strike anywhere” match.


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