Patron-Fight The Good Fight
There's a premium attached to some names in the industry for sure - but speaking very generally, pipes command big big dollars when they are great pipes, and "fairly unknown makers" can't and don't make such pipes. The idea that there's some hugely talented artiste-in-the-raw out there making excellent highgrades and NO ONE knows about this person is just wrong. It can't happen, never does and never will. Pricing isn't totally objective, but anyone capable of making a pipe that would get 1000 bucks under some other name is most likely getting 900 out of it on their own name.
It takes those guys lots of hard work to get to a level where "The-Name" is equated to great pipes.
I want to say this---I have the utmost, and deepest respect for those making pipes that can truly be defined as exceptional.
I also have this same deep respect for those working hard to move their skills forward, and gaining traction doing it.
I think you nailed it when you said that unknown makers can't & don't make such pipes---Why? Because they lack the skill, and minds eye to get it done, and done right.
I'm not saying they cannot get to that point through hard work, but it will be a long journey for that person to get them to such a level.