History

Upholder is an archaic term used for upholsterer in the past, although it appears to have a connotation of repairing furniture rather than creating new upholstered pieces from scratch (c.f. cobbler vs. cordwainer).

In 18th-century London, upholders frequently served as interior decorators responsible for all aspects of a room’s decor. These individuals were members of the Worshipful Company of Upholders, whose traditional role, prior to the 18th century, was to provide upholstery and textiles and the fittings for funerals. In the great London furniture-making partnerships of the 18th century, a cabinet-maker usually paired with an upholder: Vile and Cobb, Ince and Mayhew, Chippendale and Rannie or Haig.

In the U.S.A., Grand Rapids, Michigan is a centre for furniture manufacture, and many of the best upholsterers can still be found there. These craftsmen continue to create or recreate many antique and modern pieces of furniture.

 

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