This sounds like the bad old days when Paul was defending his employer against vicious attacks by one Drumaholic (Bill Hartrick) who claimed that Zildjian didn't know how to make cymbals anymore and the only decent Zildjian cymbals came from Istanbul where they were hand hammered, or A Zildjian Trans Stamps which came before the introduction of machines. Do you have a reference to where you saw it? Year of publication? I'm just interested as part of my historical research.
In hindsight, I think you are right. I think Paul was defending his employer, who did not hand hammer cymbals. This was in the early 2000's, I believe, and Zildjian's quality had gone down the toilet at that point. I was not alone in my opinion, of course. Bill Hartrick was unrelenting with his attacks. But every time I went to a music store, I tried out the Zildjians. They all seemed to sound like garbage.
It all started when I bought a 21" Sweet Ride, because a friend of mine recommended it. I was extremely disappointed; it sounded like sh** on toast. Just dull and lifeless. I wrote Craigie Zildjian a letter and told her that Armand would be ashamed of the quality. She called me and graciously invited me up to the factory for an exchange. Before I went, I traveled to Meductic, New Brunswick, and spent a whole day touring the Sabian factory, had dinner with Bob and Willie Zildjian, and was treated like royalty the whole time, by every Sabian employee I met. I walked out of there convinced that Sabian was doing things right, and that Canadians were the nicest people in the world, and I still believe that.
Then, I took the trip up to Quincy, met Craigie and her staff, did the factory tour, and was a bit disturbed to see how quickly they knocked out those cymbals. It was no wonder every Zildjian cymbal sounded like garbage to me at that point in time. I was treated very well however, and picked out a nice K ride, but the experience generally left me with a bad taste in my mouth about Zildjian that remains to this day. I haven't bought a Zildjian cymbal since, although I think their quality has improved.
We have so many excellent cymbal choices these days: Paiste, Sabian, Meinl, UFIP, all the Turkish hand hammered examples and many others. Who needs Zildjian? Back when I started drumming, there was Zildjian, and there was crap. Not the case these days.
Also, at that time, I became friendly with the late cymbalsmith Mike Skiba from Brick Township, NJ, and spent some time watching him hammer and finish his cymbals. Impressive. He knew more about cymbals than any man I ever met.
I read Francis's article somewhere online. I think it may have been posted on DFO. In it, he said hand hammering was nothing more than a marketing ploy. When I met Paul Francis, here's how the conversation went:
Zildjian rep: "Bob, this is Paul Francis, who heads up the R&D here at Zildjian."
Paul: "Oh. You're the guy who wrote the letter."
Bob: "Right, And you're the guy that wrote that bullsh** about hand hammering."
And that was the end of our conversational exchange. The Zildjian rep whisked me out of that room quickly.
So now, I am a bit surprised to read that Paul Francis hand hammers his cymbals. Ironic indeed.