It is now a commonplace view that fine pottery may not have formed the major part of any cargo in antiquity. The archaeological evidence of shipwrecks seems to confirm the view held by most students of the ancient economy that pots—both fine and coarse—were merely ‘parasitic’ on the main items of trade, staples, metals and slaves. However there are some who plead a special case for the fine wares—especially the figure-decorated—during the archaic and classical periods. J. Boardman, for example, though in principle in agreement with the general view that pottery accompanied ‘more important materials’, still seems to hold the view (which he formulated in 1964) that ‘Corinthian vases were being carried for their own sakes, as objets d'art, or at least best plate’. This paper will examine the recent claim—in response to those who, it is maintained, have ‘demoted the consignments of Greek pottery, plain or decorated, to “space-fillers” or “profitable ballast”’—viz., that ‘Athenian decorated pottery was not cheap and … was as valuable and profitable a trade commodity as most that any classical ship took on board’.