INVESTIGATION, ANALYSIS, AND AUTHENTICATION OF HISTORIC WALLPAPER FRAGMENTS
FRANK S. WELSH
1. Between 1996 and 1998 more than 275 samples were taken from 11 rooms at Kenmore for micro-scopical analysis as part of a comprehensive investigation of historic paint and wallpaper finishes. More than 33 wallpaper samples were found in the form of either fibers or fragments, some painted, some not. More than 53 preparations were analyzed with polarized light microscopy (PLM) for pigment, fiber, or particle (i.e., mold or starch) characterization. The analysis is documented with more than 90 photo-micrographs. Copies of the report (Welsh 1998) are available at Kenmore Plantation and Gardens in Fredericksburg and at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
2. At Davenport House, microscopical analysis of the pigments used to make the light green finish on the first-floor Hall walls identified white lead, calcium carbonate, barytes, and chrome green, which was not commercially available until after 1820. Chrome green was made by combining barytes, China clay, and chrome yellow with Prussian blue. The result is a very homogeneous mixture that appears microscopically as a green smear, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the blue and yellow pigment particles (Gettens and Stout 1966). This characteristic is evident on the chrome green pigment from Davenport House.
3. Polarized light microscopical analysis of the Wood-lands Parlor wallpaper's blue-green ground paint revealed that it was tinted with green verditer, a basic copper carbonate.
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FRANK S. WELSH is a conservation microscopist and president of Welsh Color & Conservation, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in the investigation and analysis of historic architectural coatings. He holds a degree from West Chester University and certificates for advanced study at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago, at Drexel University, and at the University of Pennsylvania. He has served as a visiting faculty member of the Preservation Institute: Nantucket, a summer program in historic preservation sponsored by the University of Florida at Gainesville. He also served as adjunct assistant professor in the Master of Arts in Historic Preservation Program at Goucher College in Baltimore, Mary-land. Awarded a Charles E. Peterson Fellowship for advanced study from the Athenaeum of Philadelphia in 1992–1993, he undertook research on early American paints, colors, and pigments, and wrote a chapter, “The Early American Palette: Colonial Paint Colors Revealed,” for the book Paint in America, published by Preservation Press. His work on historic sites has been featured in both scholarly and popular periodicals, such as Microscope, Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, APT Bulletin, Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture, Magazine Antiques, and Colonial Homes. He has written and lectured extensively, drawing on 30 years of experience in the field and work on over 1,400 restoration projects.