One of the aspects I enjoy the most about survival and preparedness is research. I’ve always enjoyed reading and learning, especially when it comes to topics that fascinate me.
Sometimes the study of
survival takes you to some very dark places. Human nature can be
benevolent and magnanimous, but also cruel and evil. Shootings,
massacres, genocide, large scale disasters, it can get depressing.
Sometimes my wife walks by, catches a glimpse of a video or a photo and
as she keeps walking she says “I don’t know how you can do this all day
long, every day”.
Maybe this is why I like learning about
interesting gear so as to catch a break. Knives, guns and lights are
maybe the most popular category, but for me the true gems are learning
what other people carry, and most of all, what others USED. I find it
interesting to learn about trinkets and possessions carried by
historical figures as well as what was used and carried by previous
generations, from prehistoric times to more recent ones. History is just
full of lessons, with the added value of being actual empirical,
Some time ago I found myself looking for information regarding my
favourite type of strike-anywhere matches, Swan Vestas. Back in the day,
Vesta meant matches. You didn’t have a match box in the late 1800 or
early 1900s, you had a Vesta case. If you had a few bucks and good
taste, you had a sterling silver Vesta case with you initials engraved
on it. These would have some kind of striking surface, usually in the
bottom of the case. You see, matches were used constantly, every day.
You used them to start fires in the kitchen, to turn on lamps, lanterns,
candles and heaters. Every household would have a table top or
countertop box of matches, but you also carried around some yourself.
Certain models also included a retractable wick cord wick could be used
to light lanterns or start fires when the match alone wasn’t enough.
And cash was King… even +100 years ago.
Another interesting trinket was the Sovereign holder.
was kept in a pocket, sometimes as a pendant or at the end of an Albert
chain, along with keys or a pocket watch. The sovereign holder was used
to carry sovereign gold coins. Some models had two compartments, one
for a full sovereign and another for a half sovereign coin. The
Sovereign holder was more of a luxury item. Silver coins which were more
commonly used were carried in coin purses or ordinary pouches.
This vesta case includes a sovereign holder as well as a stamp holder
Whistles and other Fobs.
Another favourite item to have was a whistle. Used for everything from
signalling workers to calling for help when a crime was begin committed,
a whistle was another popular keychain fob of the period. This was
about the same time when whistles gained popularity among law
enforcement so having a whistle was somewhat of a self-defense item as
Sometimes cases combined different uses. A Vesta box could have a
compartment for coins, or stamps or snuff (tobacco). Albert chains could
also include a few silver coins as a fob, but also as a way of carrying
some valuables without risking losing them.
In the case of women,
the Chatelaine chain was where all the important house keys were kept,
doors, trunks, pantry, etc, but also attached to it where sewing kits,
scissors, vesta cases, pens, whistles and other utensils.
people carried other important items as well. No self-respecting man
would be without a pocket knife of some sort, maybe a pipe and a tobacco
pouch. Pocket pistols, canes, pocket watches, hats, glasses,
handkerchiefs and pill boxes, EDC has always existed in one form or
another.I find it interesting how many of the priorities still remain: A
knife of course, but also the ability to start fires and even a good
amount of cash was as important to have back in those days as it is
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.