Vesta Cases Strike a Light for Collectors!

When John and Patricia McKenzie began collecting vesta cases in the 1960s, they could not have anticipated that they would eventually acquire over 2500 of the desirable little match holders. After half a century of keen buying (and having sold the first half of the collection last January at Lawrences), the second half of the collection went under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently and met with keen enthusiasm from a new generation of devotees.


There were 1500 individual cases on offer in an enormous variety of types and styles, divided carefully into 380 lots. “There were gold vestas, enamelled silver vestas, figurals, the so-called ‘go-to-beds’, book match holders, matchbox holders, combination vestas, trick-opening vestas, Japanese & American vestas, glass, porcelain, bronze, brass, tin, celluloid wrap-arounds and  French `naughty nineties` vestas - in fact just about every sort you can think of,” enthuses Alex Butcher, Lawrences’ specialist who had catalogued each and every one. “The inventiveness of the designers was remarkable. There were vesta cases in the shape of violins, fishes, boots, revolvers, skulls, champagne corks, pianos, Egyptian sarcophagi, Prime Ministers, rodents, rocking horses and post boxes.”


Highlights included a box from 1887 with an enamelled coaching scene (£950), a silvergilt and enamelled `Egyptian` figurine (£240) and an 1892 case enamelled with a mounted hussar that made £1890. This second sale total exceeded £90,000 with very few lots unsold.