Men once carried all sorts of objects to deal with the exigencies of life (and now we seem to think all necessities are covered by our smartphones). Men (and women, too) needed to be able to light a fire—and not just to light a cheroot—or to peel a fruit on the go,so pocket knives and matches were essential accessories for almost every gentleman. Today one also doesn’t have to be a smoker to need fire: perhaps one needs to light a candle, a incense stick, or even the charcoal for the backyard barbecue.
Smokers carry lighters; objects of style and beauty, unquestionably, especially if they are vintage Dunhill, Asprey, or Dupont, but not everyone can afford those storied brands. Enter the common matchbook; everyone has a few lying about the house. Functional and predictable, yes, but hardly stylish, not even if it’s emblazoned with one’s initials. A vesta, however, provides the perfect cover for the pedestrian object, no pun intended. Once ubiquitous but now available for a song at flea markets and eBay, a sterling matchbook cover is, to me, almost the perfect fire accessory. It looks and feels substantial, takes up no space in one’s pocket, and is an elegant table accessory to boot. Plus, refills are usually free, at least in the US, and courtesy of restaurants and cafes worldwide.
The small pocket knife—as opposed to the Swiss Army multitasking ones—is a wonderful accessory to carry (except on planes, of course). Whether to cut a loose thread, open a box, peel an orange bought at a fruit stand, or to whittle a piece of wood instead of staring at one’s phone, a knife is as useful today as it was 100 years ago. Laguiole, the French maker, makes beautiful ones—this one is the tiny version (with a 2 inch blade)—that will barely be felt in the pocket. Just don’t use it as a toothpick.