This beautiful, circa 1905, celluloid-wrapped, advertising pocket match safe has a fascinating back story connecting it to illegal gambling in the Big Apple at the turn of the 20th century. The Match Safe (or “Vesta” as it is called across the pond) features a chromolithograph image of a beautiful young woman in the “Pretty Girl” style of Angelo Asti. The sultry young beauty wears an exceptionally low cut dress which exposes her bare shoulder and much of her ample bosom. She stares dreamily to the right with her flowing auburn hair draped seductively over her left shoulder. The opposite side features advertising text that reads simply “Compliments of / Joseph Levy / Merry Xmas.”
Although there is no information regarding the identity of “Joseph Levy,” we did find that in 1903, a Joseph Levy owned a Saloon / Barroom on Montgomery Street in New York City. In July of that year, Levy was arrested and taken to jail for running a “policy parlor” at his saloon. Policy was a form of gambling similar to Keno, as played in Casinos today. Participants would wager on a number and once all bets were in, a number would be drawn from a barrel and the winner paid off with money collected from the losing bettors. This was illegal gambling, hence Levy’s arrest.
Not only a beautiful match safe but a wonderful Christmas Gift from your neighborhood “Policy Parlor!”
Merry Christmas from the Walnutts Antiques family to yours!
If you’d like to learn more about this piece, further details can be found at our eBay listing.
For more information on Match Safes, you can check out the site for the International Match Safe Museum!Follow