Surgery Set, 1834 Prior to the 1860s, family doctors played a fairly limited role in health care. They were usually called in only in cases of serious illness or accident. Doctors were not as trusted as they are today, and for much of the population, they were economically or geographically out of reach.
Besides prescribing and preparing medicine for the sick, doctors often had to amputate legs, hands and arms. In provision for these painful surgical procedures, which were performed without anaesthetic, their bags were packed with different types of saws and tourniquets.
They also carried tools for extracting foreign bodies lodged in eyes and ears and under the skin in work-related accidents. And no kit was complete without instruments for pulling teeth and assisting childbirth. Some might say that 19th-century physicians had an advantage, in that a large part of their therapeutic arsenal was easily transportable.
Source : Cures and Quackery: The Rise of Patent Medicines [Web tour], by Denis Goulet, Université de Sherbrooke