This guy we all used to know simply as "Yazid". He got known for taking money and not shipping, always an excuse about the government, the weather, the postal system, never a tracking number. He screwed over a lot of pipe makers in one to one transactions, and then screwed over Pipe Maker's Emporium, and Carolyn wasn't in a position to do much about it. Most of the American pipe making community blackballed him, and as he realized that no one, anywhere, wanted his crappy wood or his crappy stories, he approached Steve Norse about selling through his store. Steve's a champ, and told Yazid that basically as soon as he paid everyone back for the money he'd stolen (and invested in a pipe shop as I understand it) they'd be good to go. What eventually happened is Steve took in (free) and sold a lot of the briar, and gave the money to Pipe Maker's Emp. It was pretty poor stuff though, nowhere near as good as what we'd seen around 2008-9. Yazid immediately began selling through other channels, facebook etc, under a slightly different name (Mohammed Bouchemat) and selling better briar direct again. I won't touch him with a ten foot pole because I saw him damage the community a few different ways and then come crawling back. Biting the hand that feeds you is stupid.
As to the briar, the older stuff was nice, clean, tightly grained, and the cuts were a little wider than the Italian mills generally do. I had some nice pipes out of that product when I was just getting going 10 or 12 years ago. Then I got some whatever it was, 5 or 6 years back, essentially trying to funnel some money back to PME. And the wood was pretty poor, full of pits. I still have some but I'm in no hurry to try to use it. It is specialized-purpose stuff for me, if someone wants an old Custom-bilt replica or that kind of thing, it doesn't hurt me to have a few blocks sitting here.
The block this pipe came from was bought as I said from another pipemaker who quit a few years ago, and it dates from 10 years ago or more. I assumed it was Italian from the shape, size, and quality. But working it, it isn't Italian, it just feels completely different, and completely like Algerian wood. But the good version, not the sh1t version.
He still messages me every couple months in broken English to try and get me to buy his stuff.
I do know one local pipe maker who has bought from him recently and I got to take a close look at the wood and it did, in fact, look REALLY nice. However, that's his "first hit free"/get you in the door briar that I'm sure he doesn't spread around all the time. He's basically the used car salesman of the briar business.