Frank S. Welsh

Frank S. Welsh  Frank S. Welsh, [Welsh Color & Conservation], provides on-site investigation and microanalysis in the lab of paint and wallpaper finishes associated with historic structures and objects of fine art for determination of original color and composition for documentation and authentication. We have consulted on the restoration of historic buildings and conservation of antiques and objects of fine art in the United States, and internationally since 1974.

The company serves architects, engineers, curators, historic site administrators, decorative painters, conservators, old-house owners and private collectors. Services range from comprehensive, on-site paint and finishes investigation and sampling to receiving samples taken by clients using our Sampling Guide - the Paintpamphlet™. The laboratory analyses can cover basic color evaluation to in-depth study requiring extensive research and materials analysis. 

Our experience in the field, state-of-the-art laboratory and extensive collection of color samples offers clients unequaled accuracy and detail in paint analysis and wallpaper analysis. The stereomicroscope, polarized light microscope, U.V. microscope, scanning electron microscope and spectrophotometer aid in determining the number of layers, colors and types of coatings on all architectural materials as well as objects of fine art and antiques. Paint pigments, wallpaper fibers, and binders can be identified, as can decorative painting, such as graining and stenciling or trompe l' oeil.

Our comprehensive reports are customized to suit each client's needs. They document findings, present laboratory data, include cross section photomicrographs and color samples, and make specific recommendations. They serve as authoritative references for historic preservation and authentication projects.

We maintain affiliations with other specialists including, chemists, art and object conservators, restoration specialists, and architectural historians, to effectively meet a wide range of client, project and staffing requirements.

The strength of our company is rooted in more than 45 years of experience in the investigation and microscopical analysis of paint and wallpaper evidence. We excel in relating technical findings to a broadly-based historical knowledge of numerous decorative painting and papering materials and techniques.

Completed architectural restoration projects range from vernacular 18th-century buildings at Valley Forge, to World Heritage sites like Independence Hall, Monticello and the University of Virginia. Other well known sites include Colonial Williamsburg, the White House, the homes of Abraham Lincoln and John D. Rockefeller, Grand Central Terminal, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and Eero Saarinen’s Dulles International Airport. National landmarks include the United States Capitol and state capitols from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Virginia, Georgia and Florida, plus three centuries of American houses, churches, courthouses, castles, and light houses. We also have analyzed paints from bridges, stage coaches, carriages, railroad cars and boats. In addition, we often analyze the paints associated with paintings, antiques, toys and objects of fine art for authentication purposes.

Paint Sampling Guide

Frank S. Welsh holds a bachelors degree from West Chester University in Pennsylvania in the field of Arts and Sciences and certificates for advanced study in chemical microscopy at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago. He has completed advanced courses in history, chemistry, geology and scanning electron microscopy at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Bryn Mawr College. He began his professional career in 1972 as an Architectural Technician for the National Park Service for the Denver Service Center at their field office at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. In 1975 he founded the Frank S. Welsh Co., and subsequently, Welsh Color & Conservation, Inc. as a consulting firm specializing in the investigation and analysis of historic paint and wallpaper coatings. In 2020, the company unincorporated and now continues as the Frank S. Welsh Co.

Over the past 48 years Frank S. Welsh 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, Maryland. He has conducted workshops for historic site administrators, preservation groups, and restoration crews.

Frank S. Welsh has served as an advisor to and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations and maintains professional memberships with the Association for Preservation Technology (APT), American Institute for Conservation (AIC), State Microscopical Society of Illinois (SMSI), and the New York Microscopical Society (NYMS).

Wallpaper Analysis

Awarded a Charles E. Peterson Fellowship for advanced study from the Athenaeum of Philadelphia in 1992-1993, Welsh 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. This chapter features period color samples from many national historic landmarks, including the Redwood Library, Monticello, Gunston Hall, Independence Hall, and the Miles Brewton House. Welsh's work on historic sites has been featured in both scholarly and popular periodicals, such as Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture, The Magazine Antiques, and Colonial Homes.

In September 2004, Welsh was appointed Research Associate in the Department of Geology at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA. And in the Fall of 2005 the United States Capitol Historical Society awarded Welsh a Fellowship to investigate, research, analyze and publish on the use of brown zinc paint used as a primer on the 1850's cast iron door and window enframements at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In November 2007, at the annual meeting of APT in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Welsh received the Anne de Fort-Menares Award for his article: "Paint, Caen Stone, and Acoustical Plaster at the Public Library in Mobile, Alabama " published in the APT Bulletin in 2007. The award is presented for the article that best demonstrates excellence in the application of historical research to preservation practice.

Frank S. Welsh
Frank S. Welsh (center) receiving the College of Fellows Award at the APT annual meeting in Los Angeles, November, 2009. 

In October 2008, at the annual meeting of APT in Montreal, Canada, Welsh received the Anne de Fort-Menares Award for his article: "Identification of 1850's Brown Zinc Paint Made with Franklinite and Zincite at the U.S. Capitol" published in the APT Bulletin in 2008. The award is presented for the article that best demonstrates excellence in the application of historical research to preservation practice.

In November 2009, at the annual meeting of the Association for Preservation Technology in Los Angeles, California, Frank S. Welsh was inducted into APT's distinguished College of Fellows.

Frank S. Welsh has written and lectured extensively, drawing on over 45 years of experience in the field and work on over 1,700 restoration and art authentication projects.

In November, 2013, the United States Senate Commission on Art appointed Frank S. Welsh to the Senate Curatorial Advisory Board. He has been reappointed every year since.