Sandved worked at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and came up with the idea with Barbara Bedette, a paleontologist, of finding all 26 letters of the Latin alphabet and the Arabic numerals 0 to 9 in the patterns on the wings of butterflies.
Sandved's photographic excursions led him to Brazil, Congo, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Searching for the forms took him over 24 years, but he finished the collection in 1975 and published it in the Smithsonian Magazine. It was republished by Scholastic as a book in 1996, with accompanying snippets about butterfly species.
- Pinar (13 November 2013). "Entire Alphabet Found on the Wing Patterns of Butterflies". My Modern Net.
- Armstrong, Thomas (2003). The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing: Making the Words Come Alive. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. p. 127. ISBN 978-0871207180.
- "The Butterfly Alphabet". Kirkus Reviews. 1 January 1996.