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Wax Matches
These are a wax taper reinforced with embedded cotton threads.
To ignite them they could be struck on any surface that provided friction (ie the sole of a boot or seat of trousers) or could self-ignite on a very hot day or if rubbed together or if a heavy load was dropped on them.
Many children had ’cap guns’ where the head of a wax match was placed in the gun’s mechanism which ignited when the trigger was pulled which released a hammer to hit the match-head.
They were called 'vestas', after the Roman Goddess Vesta of the Hearth, in whose temple the sacred fire was kept perpetually burning.
Kindly sourced by Tinakori Antiques.

The usual practice was to transfer the matches into a tin (see below) which contained any fire if the matches ignited spontaneously.
The underside of the box has a striker.

Because they are considered unsafe they are no longer available for sale in New Zealand.

The modern match is known as a “safety match” which must be struck against the specially prepared surface on the side of the box.

 
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