Vince Martonis honored with awards for collection of Dr. Fenner medicines

Above photo shows Vince Martonis receiving the People’s Choice Award from John Pastor, American Glass Gallery owner and publisher of the Antique Bottle and Glass Collector magazine. Right photo shows the Dr. Fenner People’s Remedies display.

Vince Martonis of Gerry was honored with two awards at a history event held April 27 and 28 in Rochester for his outstanding collection of Dr. Fenner medicines from Fredonia. He was voted the People’s Choice Award by the many hundreds attending. He also won the Most Educational Award given by the Federation of Historical Bottle Clubs. The event was held at Roberts Wesleyan College.

The 50th anniversary event was sponsored by the Genesee Valley Bottle Collectors Association. Martonis has attended the event for the last 46 years and often sets up historical displays at the show. He last displayed a much smaller version of his Dr. Fenner items at the club’s 1978 show.

Martonis began collecting Fenner bottles and related items in 1972 when his Center Street landlady gave him a Dr. Fenner bottle that she dug up in her back yard. Interestingly, her house was on the lot next to where the People’s Remedies building existed for many years, the corner of Center and Barker streets. The collection grew quickly and Martonis soon was displaying Fenner medicines at shows in St. Louis, Detroit, Memphis, Buffalo, Rochester, Akron (OH), and other cities. His display was featured in the window of Bremer’s Pharmacy in Fredonia in 1977 and also at Barker Museum

Dr. Fenner began selling his People’s Remedies in Fredonia in 1872, though he was selling some medicines in Jamestown as early as 1865. He created and sold many different medicines, a number of which survived the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. After Fenner died in 1905, the business was sold in 1914 to a company in LeRoy, New York. Fenner medicines were made and sold into the 1980’s. His most popular seller was Golden Relief, used as a medicine for over 120 years.

Martonis is now photographing every item in his vast collection. The Dr. Fenner photo archive will be shared with area historical agencies so that the history is recorded and remembered. Later this year, he will have an article on Dr. Fenner published in the Antique Bottle and Glass Collector magazine.

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