The Return of the Doctor’s Bag
The doctor’s carryall, physician’s saddle bag or the classic medicine bag was the accessory of choice for traveling doctors as far back as the American Civil War. Commonly made of leather, it held all the essentials needed to perform any basic on-the-field procedure. The physician’s saddle bag, made famous by pop culture, had a rectangular bottom with a tapered top and a set of handles attached to both sides of the opening. A wide, rectangular metal frame around the opening allowed for easy access to the interior compartments. And one or a set of leather straps held both sides of the clamp to fasten it together.
Used more as a tool and less like a fashion accessory, the bag’s rise to fashion fame was due to it’s appearance in movies and TV. Characters like Mary Poppins were seen carrying a floral medicine (or carpet) bag throughout the movie. The gun wielding, tough-as-nails Granny Clampett from the 1962 sitcom “Beverly Hills Hillbillies”, also had one nearby.
The purse like appearance of the medicine bag and its debut on the big screen made it an easy transition from a doctor’s essential accessory to a women’s purse of choice.
Now that murses are more accepted by men, the physician’s bag is fitting in among the other designs. Brands like BillyKirk and Wood & Faulk provide classy and modern designs. Using waterproof, durable canvas and leather, these two brands offer high quality, hand-made goods manufactured here in the USA.