Onlaid pieces of thinly pared leather have been used for decorative effect by binders over many centuries. Most commonly, the onlays fill the area within a gold- or blind-tooled impression. Onlays can create both abstract graphic and pictorial binding designs.
Belgian, nineteenth century
A nineteenth-century Grolieresque binding by the Belgian binder De Samblancx-Weckesser.
Author: Thomas, à Kempis, 1379 or 80-1471
Title: Imitatio Christi.
Published: Leiden, Netherlands: Jean and Daniel Elzevir, 1653.
Location: Scheide Library (WHS)
Call number: Scheide 5.4.5 / 12.3.6
Spine height: 12 cm

British, nineteenth century
Francis Bedford ran a highly productive West End bindery in nineteenth-century London. Along with more common bindings in full goatskin with gilt spines, Bedford created some exceptional bindings, often in retrospective styles.
Author: Rogers, Samuel, 1763-1855
Title: Poems.
Published: London: Printed for T. Cadell and E. Moxon, 1834.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: PR5234 .A1 1834
Spine height: 21 cm

British, twentieth century
Green goatskin with multicolored onlays by the nineteenth-century London binder W. T. Morrell.
Author: Conway, William Martin, Sir, 1856-1937
Title: The Alps.
Published: London: A. and C. Black, 1904
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: 1569.265.31
Spine height: 23 cm

British, twentieth century
A jeweled binding by Sangorski and Sutcliffe. George Sutcliffe, who studied bookbinding under Douglas Cockerell, established a bindery with with Francis Sangorski in 1901. During the first two decades of the twentieth century the pair produced a number of jeweled bindings, most of them on copies of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The most sumptuous of these jeweled bindings, now referred to as 'the Great Omar,' never reached the American collector who commissioned it, having been entrusted to the maiden voyage of the Titanic.
Author: Omar Khayyam
Title: Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
Edition: Third edition.
Published: London: Bernard Quaritch, 1872.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: PK6513 .A1 1872
Spine height: 23 cm