From the Pipe's by Mariner website:
Joe Mariner started making unique handcrafted tobacco pipes in 1972 in Napa, California. By 1974 he was making about 200 pipes per year which were being sold at wholesale to the finest pipe and tobacco shops on the West Coast and Chicago. During the late 70s and early 80s Pipes by Mariner were sold through these premier pipe shops: Druquer & Sons Pipes and Tobacco shops in Berkeley and Oakland, Grant's Pipe Shop on Market Street in San Francisco, Telfords' Pipe Shops in San Francisco and Mill Valley, Tinder Box shops in Citrus Heights, Monterey and Los Angeles, Lynch's Pipe Shop in Anaheim, the Briar Patch smoke shops in Sacramento and Fresno and Iwan Ries & Co. in Chicago. Numerous other smaller West Coast shops also sold Pipes by Mariner.
Mr. Mariner received numerous awards in recognition of his mastery of pipe making skills. They include: 1980 best pipe of show at the Pipe Collectors Expo in San Francisco, 1984 best American pipemaker at Pipe Collector International's (PCI) 1st annual convention in Chattanooga, 1985 best briar freehand and best pipmaker at the 2nd annual PCI convention, 1986 3rd National Pipe Expo best pipemaker, 1987 4th National Pipe Expo best freehand. The 1984 best pipemaker judging was done by the 20 pipemakers attending the show, the 1985 by retailers. Also during the 1984 convention Mr. Mariner was one of the first eight individuals to receive recognition as "certified kapnismologists" (pipe experts) by PCI for outstanding contributions to pipe collecting and craftsmanship. MORE AWARDS
In 1980, through an unusual convergence of contacts he sold over $5,000 worth of freehand pipes to a large pipe shop in the Mitsubishi building in Tokyo. They were on display in the lobby along with Dunhill pipes and a Danish maker's pipes. They were presented as "the best pipes the world has to offer". Unfortunately, the yen/dollar ratio and Japanese import restrictions did not permit a cost-effective ongoing business relationship.
In order to guarantee a continuous supply of exceptional quality briar for his pipes, Mr. Mariner began importing briar by the ton in 1976. There were also large shipments in 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1985. Most of the briar was sold at wholesale to other serious, limited-production pipe makers who received many unopened, unsorted bags. Of course, because of his love of the wood and first hand knowledge of how rare fine pieces are, he was constantly setting aside both premium and unusually-shaped pieces for his own production from the flow of his briar import business.
In 1987, Mr. Mariner no longer had the "spare time" to continue pipe production and the briar import business so both became dormant. It was not seen by Mr. Mariner as an end of the businesses, just a time when he was focusing on computer systems design and programming which demand much time and concentration. He knew that his large inventory of pipes and briar would allow a return to both businesses when the time was right.
History of the Mariner Classic Bowls: Occasionally an extremely old batch of briar or unfinished pipes turn up -- a G.I. buys a bag in Italy at the end of WWII to make pipes when he returns home, but the briar sits in his attic for nearly forty years; a small, third generation French manufacturer comes across several dozen bowls that were turned 50 years ago; a pipe factory closes down, selling hundreds of dozens of unfinished pipes and bowls to a retailer who spends 25 years working single-handedly at finishing the pipes, but with many remaining when he decides to retire.
All of these situations actually occurred. The last example is exactly the way the Mariner Classic bowls were born. For over 30 years, Rocco Cuttri operated a small pipe factory on Battery Street in Brooklyn. Retiring in the late 1950s, he sold thousands of unfinished bowls and pipes to Bud Ford. From these, Bud produced finished pipes sold under the Trade Winds label, stocking his Sacramento shop almost exclusively with them. When Bud retired from the pipe trade in 1982, over 100 dozen of the prime 25 year old bowls remained. These bowls were acquired by Joe Mariner.
The Mariner Classics are Born: During the 1970s and 1980s, the Mariner name became synonymous with pipes having beautiful, daring and innovative freehand designs with an unequaled mirror or satin finish. As limited production pipes, they were sold primarily by a few West Coast tobacconists famous for offering quality pipes to a discriminating clientele. Being a briar importer and a firm believer in the benefits of aged briar, Mariner has been able to produce many outstanding pipes having tight, flawless grain -- all from briar he has personally air-dried for three to six years.
For several years, Mariner was encouraged to produce standard shapes by Robert Rex, former owner of Drucquer & Sons Ltd. which became the first retail outlet for Mariner's exotic pipes in 1973. Mariner always resisted the suggestion, feeling that, with the millions of standard shapes being produced in France, Italy, England and the United States, there was nothing unique he could offer. His feelings rapidly changed when he saw the opportunity to offer pipe lovers pipes that could result from combining his expert craftsmanship and finishing techniques with beautiful, fully aged, 25-year-old bowls."