Upholder is an old, archaic term used for “upholsterer”, but rather than creating new upholstered pieces from scratch, it appears to refer to repairing furniture.
In 18th-century London, upholders very often served as interior decorators, who were responsible for all aspects of a room’s decor. These people were members of the Worshipful Company of Upholders, whose role prior to the 18th century, was to provide upholstery, textiles and fittings for funerals. In the great London furniture-making partnerships of the 18th century, a cabinet-maker usually paired with an upholder: Ince and Mayhew, Vile and Cobb, Chippendale and Rannie or Haig.
In the United States Michigan, Grand Rapids and Hickory (North Carolina) are centers for furniture manufacture along with Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire (England) and many of the best upholsterers can still be found there. Nottinghamshire is also home to Webs training Ltd, a furniture training company specialising in training apprentices in the furniture manufacturing industry. These artisans continue to create or recreate many antique and modern pieces of furniture.
Furniture reupholstery continues to thrive to this day throughout the UK with several businesses small and large providing this service.