CVA remains an expensive form of publication and has naturally come to concentrate on those wares best presented in this fashion. Thus, over the years the content of CVA has been virtually confined to the decorated pottery of the Greek and Etruscan world, and certainly eliminated any decorated pottery from east of Cyprus, Egypt or the western Phoenician world. CVA serves essentially the art historical aspect of classical archaeology, but there are areas of uncertainty:
Excavation pottery is generally omitted unless it is art-historically interesting, especially from early excavations, such as Naucratis. However, where there is an assemblage of whole vases of appropriate type from any excavation there may seem good reason to include it – e.g. the recent volume from Salonika.
The following are generally excluded since CVA does not seem now to be the appropriate or natural source for those professionally interested in these classes:
- Cypriot pottery, including the Figured Style
- Greek Bronze Age pottery
- Black glazed pottery, with the possible exception of pieces with added decoration
- Etruscan bucchero (a recent exception from France devoted wholly to the class)
- Roman decorated pottery – Arretine etc.
- All plain and striped wares, including any excessive number of types such as ‘football aryballoi’
Exceptions to 2 and 3 may be admissible where a whole collection is presented which includes a small proportion of such wares. This recognizes the fact that CVA also serves as publication of museum collections and it is reasonable for a museum to wish the contents to be comprehensive. They should never, however, amount to as much as 10% of the whole. The determining factor should normally be whether the material is likely to be of interest and importance to a classical art historian. Outside these exceptional classes the material presented should be complete, and not selected according to criteria of assumed interest of editor or reader.
The pottery should be cleaned before photography. Restorations should be removed, but where they need to be retained for the purposes of museum display care must be taken to see that they are fully described, and ideally indicated in some way on the photograph (dotted outlines, etc.).
Photography should include all the decoration, back and sides if need be, and oblique views of angled shoulders, etc.
Inscriptions, graffiti and significant details of colour which are not clear on the photographs should be drawn.
Drawn profiles of sensitive shapes or details of shapes are desirable. If black glaze is included, profiles only are acceptable.
The size of photographs on the plate should be such as to make clear all detail, including plastic as well as painted detail, and as uniform as possible. Excessive enlargement of vases to fill space is inappropriate. Sizing should be done by the author, not a publisher.
There should be a full description of all painted decoration and colour.
There should be a full bibliography; or in the case of notorious pieces, references to a full bibliographical source for early publication.
Comment need not be as detailed as a catalogue raisonné, nor is CVA an appropriate place for detailed studies best presented in articles or monographs. Attention should be drawn to any unusual features. However, where the material is rich in certain areas (e.g., groups of figure-vases, the work of single painters or workshops), not much discussed elsewhere, the opportunity may be taken to explain it more fully.
The introduction should explain the history and sources of the collection resented, where they are of interest, and if need be illustrate this with early drawings, etc.
The traditional format of CVA should be maintained – the size is appropriate and economical. There should be hard covers.
The UAI Committee accepted the recommendation that plates should be bound in, and this is common practice now in many countries. This is for the convenience of libraries and users, it is considerably cheaper, and it offers the possibility of issuing quite modest volumes for the smaller collections or assemblages economically.
The material for publication should be kept in an electronic form to facilitate eventual inclusion on the CVA website, when the volumes are out of print. The UAI has reaffirmed its view that the printed volume is the best way to ensure that strict CVA standards continue to be observed by authors and museums; these could be eroded by direct publication on the web, but the opportunity will shortly exist for museums who for very good reason present their collections in this way to have it linked to the major CVA database, also for any other databases dealing with special classes of relevant pottery.