Charles van Sandwyk: A Guide for Collectors
Charles van Sandwyk is one of my absolute favourite artists, and I have prepared the annotated bibliography and list of Charles van Sandwyk publications below as a guide for collectors.
Charles is a painter, a writer and an illustrator. He is most well-known among collectors for his limited runs of beautiful hand-made books featuring poetry or anecdotes and philosophy accompanied by delicate and entertaining artworks in pen and ink, watercolours, and etchings.
After I started adding in some sample pages from the books (you can click on the thumbnails below to enlarge the images, and some books also have links to video reviews and more in-depth dedicated posts), the page started getting too slow to load, so I have had to split it into two parts. This is the first part, covering publications from 1983 to 2007. For publications from 2008 to the present, please visit page 2 of the collector’s guide.
I haven’t included price guides because they vary wildly, but there are limitation numbers and links to Abes for most books which can give you an idea of current prices – although many items were produced in such low numbers that they only appear for sale once every ten years if that, so I have only provided links where I have seen the books on the market. (But feel free to comment below and I can let you know what sort of prices I have seen a work sell for in recent years if there is something in particular that interests you.) Works in print are typically available to the retail market via various art galleries and book specialists across Canada, the US and the UK, including particularly Attic Books, Aquila Books and Sotherans.
References used in preparing this bibliography include assistance from private collections (particular thanks to John and Florian for generously sharing their wealth of knowledge and photographs of rare pieces), the University of British Columbia Library, the Bruce Peel Special Collections at the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University Special Collections, the Heavenly Monkey and Folio Society publishers’ websites, the Joyce Williams Antique Prints and Maps Gallery, and of course Charles’ own CVS Fine Arts website and Instagram account. Please note that all artwork is copyrighted by the artist and reproduced here for cataloguing purposes (and, let’s face it, some minor drooling).
The collector’s guide was last updated on 6 September 2020.
Charles van Sandwyk - The Annotated Bibliography
About the book: A collection of four sketched portraits of “little people” in sepia. Printed from a copperplate etching on a single strip of Somerset paper, folded accordion style and affixed to marbled paper covers. 6pp, 1.25 x 1 inch.
Issued in three bindings: marbled paper (tied with a green paper loop), green suede (tied with a suede cord), and tan leather. The suede-bound edition was limited to 50 signed and numbered copies. Marbled paper-bound copies are signed but not numbered.
A Selection of Neighbourly Birds of the New World (Canada) (Limited Edition) by Charles Noel van Sandwyk.
Typography by Denise Carson Wilde. Bound by Rasmussen Hand Bindery.
Publication: Published by the artist, North Vancouver, 1987.
About the book: A collection of nine etchings of humorous bird character studies. Features Cloister and Hadriano capitals, printed in three colours on Somerset 100 percent rag using a Vandercook proofing press at Winter Lily Press. Includes marbled endpapers and silk tissue interleaving between the etchings.
From the prospectus: “A whimsical account of West Coast birdlife, narrated in a light, witty style with illustrations reminiscent of those found in old children’s books, and early hand coloured publications. ‘This is conceived in the style of a children’s book, though it is intended just as much for grown-ups who enjoy remembering what it was like to be children’“.
The etchings were printed from the original intaglio plates on a nineteenth century Kelton & Son press and hand coloured. 36pp, 25cm. Limited edition of 126 copies, including 100 signed and numbered copies, plus 26 lettered author’s editions. Twenty of the lettered editions were bound in wine-coloured linen with matching slipcase and marbled endpapers, and nine were bound in brown leather with gilt rules on the spine and front board around the inlaid etching.
About the item: A portfolio of eleven hand-coloured bird etchings, including observational notes on the five indigenous species of parrots found in the Fiji Islands, printed from the original intaglio plates, then hand-coloured by the artist. Accompanied by letterpress observations. 16 leaves, 29cm.
From the prospectus: “The folio is reminiscent of days when explorers and ships’ illustrators produced publications of their discoveries. Beasts and plants were often endowed with characteristics not entirely natural, but infused with the personalities of the artists themselves. Parrots of the Cannibal Islands is inspired by this wondrous time in history … Each etching pictures an exquisitely detailed parrot with an allegorical symbol portraying its delicate balance with nature”
Released in a limited edition of 60 signed copies (however, about half of the copies were not bound or sold).
About the book: Pen and ink drawings of exotic birds in art and poetry.
Featuring French flaps, hand-sewn pages, black and white pen & ink drawings. Released in tan and maroon paper wraps. 20pp, 16cm, printed offset. 1000 copies (300 of which were in the maroon wraps).
❦ More info: See also the CvS Feathered Friends post and video
About the book: A story of bird courtships. A single leaf, folded into 10p.
Bound in red linen with an inset image and marbled endpapers. Limited edition of 20 copies.
About the book: A flock of exotic birds share their frustrations with life and set out to make a better existence, only to discover they already live in Paradise. Text and watercolour illustrations, including one double-page spread.
“In kindness and love, and above all compassion, We have found Paradise, in our own Bird-like fashion.”
The original drawings and paintings for this book were purchased by the National Library of Canada (Ottawa).
A dark green illustrated dust jacket over burgundy cloth boards. 48pp, 26cm. 5500 copies. ISBN: 0969280785
About the book: Collector’s edition of Parade to Paradise. Green linen case-bound in a paper wrap, marbled endpapers, with a hand-etched vignette of eggs in a nest on the limitation page.
Issued in a limited numbered edition of 250 copies. 125 limited edition prints (10″ x 14″) of images on pages 9, 11, 13, 17, 19 and 23 were also released. ISBN: 0969609728
About the book: A story of fairies told in verse. Featuring text, pen & ink drawings and seven watercolour illustrations. With French flaps and hand-sewn pages. Three printings of 1000 copies each printing (first printing identified by burgundy card wrap, no writing under the Fairy Press logo; second printing in white card wrap with staples; third printing has burgundy card wrap with six lines of text under the Fairy Press logo). The first edition was released with a separately laid-in bookmark “To increase your brain-power and imagination“.
This original edition was followed by a later omnibus trade edition published by Smithmark of the same name in 1999, and also included in a different omnibus Folio Society edition in 2018. 16pp, 18cm, printed offset.
❦ More info: See inside various editions of How to See Fairies in this post and video here…
About the book: A collection of illustrations of six ‘wee folk’ observed by the artist, covered in twelve plus one etchings. This book won the Juror’s Choice award at the Seattle Book Fair, 1994.
Both text and illustrations consist of intaglio prints, using burnt umber or moss green ink on “lana royale” paper. Each printed leaf is accompanied by a silk guardsheet with a spiderweb design by the artist. The title vignette on front cover also features onlaid copper leaf. 12 leaves, 19cm. Limited edition of 40 signed and numbered copies.
About the book: A single-sheet accordion-fold
reproduction of an original watercolour painting featuring a winged musical menagerie.
Released in blue and green wraps with colour reproductions inlaid to the cover and first leaf. A rare maroon variant with a different cover was also issued. 7pp, 11cm x 13cm. 1200 copies.
About the book: The “sketchbook of a dream“. Calligraphic text and 16 watercolour reproductions along with pen & ink illustrations. Quarter-bound in black leatherette with a gilt title stamped onto burgundy cloth-bound boards. 28p, 23cm x 26cm.
Accompanied by a separately laid-in bookmark “Time flew past…“
Limited edition of 200 numbered copies, each with an original signed etching of ‘Follow Your Dreams’ tipped-in.
About the book: A set of postcards featuring the images from Sketches from the Dream Island of Birds.
About the book: The anniversary edition of the 1987 original. A collection of illustrations about different birds seen in Canada: robin, wren, warbler, crow, heron and pelican, based on the earlier edition but with ten new colour illustrations (only the cover inlay appeared in the original).
Accompanied by a separately laid in bookmark “Let your imagination soar…“
Text offset from original letterpress, bound in purple card wrap with a dark green dust jacket featuring decorative gilt stamping and an inlaid image of a bird’s nest with three eggs. 24pp, 17cm. 2000 copies. ISBN: 0968012809
About the book: A collection of Fijian sketches, drawn and annotated by the artist in the Fiji Islands in 1996. Calligraphic text and watercolour illustrations.
Accompanied by a separately laid-in bookmark “A book and a fire, a heart to inspire…”.
Some editions have different images on the front cover, including a lizard, parrot, palm tree or turtle. 28pp, 18cm, printed offset. 1500 copies.
The Rasmussen Bindery bound a few copies in leather, embossed in gold using a die designed by the artist. Limited edition prints (100 copies) were made for four of the illustrations.
About the book: A limited edition of Sketches from a Tropic Isle, with a hand-drawn tan-coloured calligraphic ‘manuscript’ cover. 28pp, 18cm, “only a small number” produced.
Released with a 13.5″ X 20″ illustrated map of Tavewa (dream) island.
About the item: Printed set of watercolour postcards issued in a paper folder to accompany Sketches from a Tropic Isle. Produced with different cover images to match the original book.
About the book: A collection of fairy folk illustrations and lore, including what equipment is needed to search for fairies, tips on how to spot them and a list of some of their favourite foods. Calligraphic text and pen & ink as well as watercolour illustrations. 24p, 18cm, printed offset. 2000 copies.
❦ More info: see inside Pocket Guide to the Little People in this post and video here…
About the book: German language edition of Parade to Paradise.
This edition lacks the decorative colour initial letters in the text. Case bound in colour illustrated paper over boards.
About the book: A boxed ‘treasure chest’ containing a hardcover omnibus edition of How to See Fairies and The Pocket Guide to the Little People as well as a blank journal titled ‘The Fairy Journal’ (“to record your own fairy sightings“), three note cards, a bookmark and a mini-poster titled ‘Autumn Leaves’.
In the omnibus edition, How to See Fairies lacks the first two full-page b&w illustrations of the original but includes a new watercolour; Pocket Guide is reproduced in its entirety but in a different order from the original.
The American edition of the Smithmark book is missing Charles’ name on the front cover, the last page of the book, and most controversially his signature has been cropped out of many of the illustrations; however the Canadian edition includes all three of these things.
ISBN of omnibus edition hardback book: 0765109522. 25K copies.
❦ More info: See inside various editions of How to See Fairies in this post and video here…
About the book: A collection of ‘translated’ Rabbit poetry and language for humans. Calligraphic text accompanies watercolour and pen & ink illustrations.
About the book:The first book published by the Heavenly Monkey studio. It provides descriptions of the artist’s limited and trade edition books issued during the first 18 years of his career. Includes an introduction by the artist, two new copper plate engravings, and a tipped in facsimile of his miniature book “Wee Folk”.
Set by hand in 12-pt Bembo and printed damp with the HM handpress on mould-made paper. Sewn as a single signature with a printed French paper wrap slipcase. 18pp, 23cm, edition of 54 copies, signed and numbered by the artist.
50 numbered and signed copies in the original cream card covers; 2 out-of-series artist’s proofs sewn into a paper wrapper with a marbled-paper cover, housed in a custom slipcased of blue paper-covered board with marbled endpapers; 2 out-of-series publisher’s proofs printed on damp Barcham Green paper and bound in full limp vellum by Richard Smart of the Old English Bindery with gold initials on the spine, housed in a slipcase.
About the book: The delightful story of the Gnome King. Calligraphic text and watercolour illustrations.
Issued with different cover art on the paper wraps including gnome with harp and gnome with staff. 16pp, 18cm, printed offset. 2000 copies.
❦ More info: see inside The Gnome King in this post and video here…
You Who For This Day Prepare or ‘Three Bees’ by Charles van Sandwyk
Publication: Published by the artist, North Vancouver, 2001.
About this book: Includes three hand-coloured copperplate etchings of bees and calligraphic text by the artist. 16pp, 20cm.
Limited edition of 15 copies, with 10 copies bound in full leather by Richard Smart of the Old English Bindery in Vancouver.
About the book: A miniature accordion book of imaginary insect images in different poses, “being the smaller particulars of an etymologist’s nightmare“.
Calligraphic title and 10 insect scenes made up from two long narrow etchings printed on Somerset paper, bound together accordian-style in thin boards with a drawing and a touch of gold leaf. Some copies also hand tinted in watercolour.
10p, limited edition of 50 copies stated “but only five or six were made, as it was hard to colour and bind. The remainder of the edition remains unmade, and likely I will only put one or two together in the future“.
About the book: A story of the fairies’ Christmas, issued by Heavenly Monkey as their Christmas 2001 book. A delightful fairy tales in which a little boy and his grandfather are visited by a host of fairy folk for Christmas.
Featuring green French flaps, hand-sewn pages, four tipped-in illustrations, story printed on caramel pages. 8pp, 18cm, printed letter press with engravings. 1000 copies. Green and plum covers, and the tipped-in etchings were produced on cream, gold and fern paper. Letterpress printing with engravings by David Clifford at Black Stone Press.
A special edition of 50 copies was also published “for family, friends and patrons“, including a frontispiece drawing signed by the artist, with the story printed on white pages and a darker green or plum card cover over red card wraps.
About the book: A short story by ‘Painter Mouse’, about his family and finding his place in the world. Calligraphic text & watercolour illustrations.
Pages consist of a continuous strip of paper printed on one side, folded accordion-style. Issued in two states with the cover featuring a pasted down title and illustration of either the Painter Mouse, or Mice and Cheese.
11pp, 13cm, printed offset. 2000 copies.
About the book: An elegant artist’s proof manuscript of the later 2004 publication of Mr Rabbit’s Christmas Wish. Green cloth wrappers with laid-in etching. Contains seven etchings (including front title and title page, a few of which have hand-coloured highlights).
Most etchings were reproduced in the following standard edition, but notably this edition also includes an etching of a mouse drinking a glass of brandy on a piece of cheese which was replaced with a different image for the final version. Only 6 copies were made, and 4 were released.
About the book: A miniature book released to celebrate Christmas for Heavenly Monkey, created by a single sheet of folded handmade paper in cream card boards. Features two drawings plus decorations.
“A few dozen copies for family, friends and patrons” were printed. 6pp.
About the book: This was the first volume produced in a collection of Andrew Lang’s fairy tales, part of the “Rainbow Fairy Books” series produced by the Folio Society, each volume featuring with new illustration commissions from contemporary illustrators.
Charles’ contribution to the series was The Blue Fairy Book, bound in blue buckram, blocked with a design by the artist. Included decorative end papers, with top pages sprayed blue. Typeset in Founder’s Caslon, printed on Caxton Wove paper. 16 coloured illustrations plus a frontispiece, and black & white decorations throughout the text. Issued in a blue slipcase. 371p. First printing of 1000 copies, reprinted multiple times following.
About the book: A romantic set of poems told by the animals.
Bound in metallic paper with French flaps (hand sewn), some pages have deckled edges, with calligraphic text & 14 tipped-in watercolour illustrations.
28pp, 22cm x 26cm, printed offset. 2000 copies printed, both years.
About the book: A short Christmas story about the Heavenly Monkey receiving a book for Christmas, featuring three b&w illustrations by CvS. This was released as a seasonal publication by Heavenly Monkey
Produced as a limited edition for friends and family of the press. 8p, limited edition of 100 numbered copies (the first 15 being artist’s copies).
From the colophon: “This book is for all of the colleagues, friends, patrons and family who helped make this such a productive and enjoyable year at the studio. Printed in the days leading to the Christmas rush, using Garamont type cast by the highly-talented Jim Rimmer, dampened Lana Laid paper and a Washington Hand press.”
About the book: Charles contributed various drawings for the Heavenly Monkey Annuals between 2001 to 2003. This collection of his artwork was printed for the artist’s birthday as a limited anniversary edition (Charles was born on 12 May, 1966). It features prints of CvS drawings used by Heavenly Press in its annuals, The Fairies’ Christmas (2001), A Christmas Secret (2002), and A Christmas Book (2003). The cover illustration is the same as that used on the Interim Bibliography.
8pp, 18cm, printed on Lana, a limited edition of 20 signed and numbered copies.
About the book: A deluxe edition of Affairs of the Heart. Bound in maroon silk, with an original etching of ‘A Literary Hedgehog’ tipped-in and five additional pages of original sketches of animals added to the end of the book.
Printed on Chanson Miteintes and Arches watercolour paper, with colour plates on Lustro cream. 38pp, 22cm x 26cm, limited edition of 200 signed and numbered copies.
About the book: A sweet list of things Mr Rabbit is hoping for Christmas.
Green wrappers with a decorative foiled border and tipped-in rabbit illustration on the cover, with hand-stitched binding. Calligraphic text & eight tipped-in watercolour plates along with five pen & ink illustrations.
16pp, printed offset (2000 copies, both years). The first edition cover is metallic green, while the 2007 edition is a non-metallic darker green with bright red and gold highlights.
About the book: In the early ’90s an American collector commissioned two etchings from Charles to be used as bookplates. The collector asked Heavenly Monkey to assemble an archive of drawings and various state prints and proofs of the commission into a publication, along with a preface by the artist. Since the type would be set anyway, and van Sandwyk had a handful of extra copies of the etchings, the commission’s chronicle was published in an edition of 12 copies, each with seven original etchings (one hand-coloured) tipped in, and reproductions of two original sketches. Copies 1-6 were issued by the publisher, copies 7-12 were issued by the artist, and the hors commerce unique collector’s copy contained 15 etchings and two drawings.
The text was set by hand in 18-pt Perpetua, and printed on Arches Cover with the HM handpress. Nine of the 12 copies were bound by Claudia Cohen in full limp vellum, with a traycase. Of the remaining three copies, two were sewn on purple vellum slips, and laced into a limp case made from Reg Lissel’s faux vellum paper. The third was bound in a different wrap, which the artist embellished in watercolour. 21pp, 10in x 10in. An edition of 13 copies.
About the item: An audio CD housed in an illustrated slipcover.
Written and narrated by Charles van Sandwyk with the editorial talents of Karlyn Kinney, Rollin Milroy, and Michael Sims. Directed by Frank Ludwig with musical accompaniment by Chris Ludwig.
About the item: Two bookmarks, six bookplates and an explanatory card in an envelope. Envelopes feature different images, including a ‘literary lion’ and ‘archer mouse’. 19cm x 14cm.
About the book: “I am the sketchbook belonging to Charles van Sandwyk. I travelled through a dream – and returned with many tales to tell…“
Released with metallic brown and blue paper wraps. Features French flaps, hand-sewn pages, calligraphic text and 18 tipped-in watercolour illustrations (one a fold-out). 28 pp, 26cm x 22cm. Offset printed, 2000 copies.
In 2006 the Gold Award was presented by The International Gallery of Superb Printing to Contact Printing, in Recognition of Excellence for superb craftsmanship in the production of this trade edition.
About the book: The classic adventures of four anthropomorphic animals in pastoral England.
Full green cloth blocked with a design by the artist, printed paper label on cover, and decorative endpapers. Features 33 coloured illustrations and black & white drawings. Released in an illustrated slip case. Typeset in Founder’s Caslon. 251p, 25cm. The edition was later revised for a limited edition in 2008.
Note that a special illustrator’s edition of 150 signed and numbered Illustrated copies was also released in 2005 in this same binding that included an additional etching.
This volume won the Grand Prix Award at the Printing World Awards.
About the book: A special hardcover edition of the earlier How to See Fairies book.
Olive green cloth covered boards with a tipped-in title image on front cover, and brown card endpapers. Includes two original etchings, seven watercolour illustrations and nine pen & ink drawings (including the Fairy Press logo) with an afterword by the author.
The edition states a limitation of 65 copies, however only 25 were printed “due to a problem with the binder“. 24p, 18cm. Accompanied by an illustrated bookmark.
Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Tales Folio Society Edition. Translated by Jean Hersholt, preface by Brian Alderson, with illustrations by numerous artists.
Publication: The Folio Society, London, 2006.
About the book: A complete collection of Hans Andersen’s tales (156 stories, not just the fairy tales), with each tale illustrated by a different artist.
Charles illustrated the tale ‘Which Was the Happiest?‘ that appears in volume 2.
About the book: A collection of over 60 sepia etchings pulled in 2006 by CVS with Waisiki Doughty, and an essay by the artist. Released in a limited edition of 10 copies, each being named for a writer or artist who had a particular influence on Charles’ life, as well as 3 hors commerce copies. 33cm.
Bound in elaborately tooled leather with coloured inlays and gilt tooling (including six different beetle designs by the artist). Issued in a clothbound clamshell box, with 56 leaves, frontispiece (etching), title page (calligraphy type reproduced from zinc and filled in gold by the artist, and a small etching), along with tipped in essays and etchings. Limited edition of 13 copies.
This essay about the Charles’ approach to etching was originally written as the introduction to the Twenty-one Years, Twenty-one Prints collection.
Impressed by the essay’s insight to his work and art, Heavenly Monkey (HM) proposed over-printing it and issuing it as a companion volume at the same time with slightly reduced page dimenstions. The essay features five tipped-in prints of Charles’ earliest etchings (including: “Egyptian Dhow”), plus a new one created for this project representing “the Spirit of Etching.” The title page features a new drawing pochoir of an antelope, coloured by the artist. The text was set in 18-point Centaur and printed in two colours on Somerset paper.
The text was set in 18-point Centaur and printed at HM in two colours on 250g Arches Cover paper. 10p, 9in x 13in. Limited edition of 50 copies, signed and numbered by the artist. All copies were cased by Claudia Cohen in cloth over boards, with printed spine label. Numbers 1-25 were issued through HM, and cased in natural linen; numbers 26-50 were issued by the artist, and cased in a dark red buckram.
About the book: The book examines how and why human consequences, historically, have negatively impacted upon all native human and non-human species.
The cover photographs are still life images by CVS.