While these are a bit post Civil War period, they have to rate in the finest set of medical saddlebags I have ever seen. They are fully documented as explained below.
Perhaps what is best about them is the condition. The leather is really fine, still supple. No doubt they could be used on a horse today. There are just the slightest tiny crazing in the leather strap. They have never been repaired. The photos do not do the bags justice!!!
These are medical saddlebags used by horse riding doctors in the late 19th century. These bags were Elliots patent. Elliot was initially issued the patent in 1871 for the hinged lower compartments.
The patent was reissued in 1881 and assigned to A.A. Mellier, sole proprietor and manufacturer in St. Louis.
Below is an image from the Sept/Oct 1998 edition of American Artifacts magazine (Greybird Publishing).It contained an article on saddlebags and showed a journal advertisement by A.A. Mellier. These bags were "Adopted by the US Government as the Best Saddle Bag in the World!"
They came in a small 24 vial size and a large 30 vial size. This is the large size. The bag is exactly as appears in the ad. There are 3 compartments for 10 bottles eacy.
29 of 30 bottles are present. No labels or contents. 17 bottles have original stoppers. One has a cracked rim. The bottem compartments have an ingenious swing out mechanism that was the basis for the patent. The bags are about 8 inches tall without the strap. Labeled AA Mellier on each flap with other information eg Sole Proprietor. The bags are leather with metal mounts and wonderful latches.
They are 100% intact. Came out of an attic where they probably resided for over 100 years. Amazingly, these bags cost $12 when new, a lot of money back then. With some leather conditioner (Pecard) they would look absolutely like the day they were made.
I have done nothing to them. There is one empty compartment that is also empty in the advertisement below. This was for papers and instruments I presume.
Some of the compartments are lined with and old advertisement that looks 19th century. I have seen a number of saddlebags over the years but none with so many of the original bottles and in such fabulous condition!!!
More photos here:
- Side View
- Front View
- Patent & Maker's Mark
- Close Up - Compartments
- Flap & A. A. Mellier Maker's Mark
- Another View - Compartments
- Newsprint Lining - Compartments
- 29 Of 30 Original Bottles & Tins
- Bottles In Compartments
- Another View - Bottles In Compartments
- Adopted by the US Government Advertisement