I have a modest collection of silver vesta cases (aka matchsafes) and the common wisdom among collectors is that the name “vesta case” comes from the “fact” that “Swan Vestas” were the most popular brand of matches in Victorian England; so much so that vesta became synonymous with match and hence the name vesta case for the device which carried them. That Swan Vestas were popular is not really in question (they made the Bryant & May Co. rich) but all I can find is that the word match was used alongside “Lucifers” which was the name Samuel Jones gave to his matches. Lucifers date from around 1830 but Swan Vestas weren’t produced until 1861. The history of matches is interesting in its own right, but I’m more concerned with the name collectors use for the cases they were carried in by Victorian gentlemen. (Actually many say that true gentlemen took snuff and that smoking and matches were for the ordinary folk, but the large number of finely made vesta cases in precious metals and having loops for attachment to watch chains would seem to belie this idea.)
I’m wondering if the OED has an entry for “vesta case” or if anyone knows of Victorian source material which could support or disprove this common wisdom about the source of the name.
PS. We all know that Vesta was the Roman Goddess of hearth and home and that Bryant & May took the name for their product from her.