No, this is not an example of Peter Johnson's work- frankly I don't have any photos of him or his frames. I did know him and I have seen his work. Back when I was working at the Bicycle Center in Santa Cruz as a wrench I got the chance to meet Peter in 1978 and see one of his frames. I was really blown away at the delicate detail- the thinned and beautifully finished lugs were as good or better than any I had seen....and I had seen many beautiful frames at that point. The Bicycle Center had quite a collection of high end frames from Europe and the USA and many well heeled customers would show up with the finest bikes for service or to join on shop rides. In a sea of quality bike frames, Peter Johnson's frame stood out as maybe a step further in terms of meticulous detail and finish. Peter himself did not talk up his work and billed himself as a hobby builder who dabbled in the craft. He said that the amount of time it took for him to build a frame made it impossible for the task to be financially rewarding. He just built frames as an expression without the thought of ever going full time with it.
One day many years later I was in San Diego for a bike show and was staying at Bryan Baylis' house. He showed me his workshop and pulled out a frame that he was going to paint for a client. I looked at the frame and noticed that it was put together with lugs brazed with brass. Unlike most frames done this way, this frame was immaculate , almost delicate in its construction. Bryan asked me if I knew who the builder was by looking at the frame. I told him that I didn't have a clue. He told me that it was built by Peter Johnson and that the brazing was beyond what he , Bryan Baylis was capable of........that was shocking to hear as Bryan was one of the foremost builders in the world. He was one-upped by a dabbler- Peter Johnson, a machinist in Nor-Cal who only built a couple of frames a year, if that.
Peter knew who all the older builders were and he would go to their shops when they were selling off old building supplies. I also went to a couple of these builders, Art Stump for one. I was hoping to score some old UK made blank lugs from the '50's. Art told me that I was too late-Peter had already cleaned him out. This happened on more than one occasion. I am sure that his collection of old bicycle parts was unrivaled in the state. Peter had a real reverence for the craft and all the old ways, even if he himself was not that involved. Even with his limited track record of frames, he still commanded the respect of the best in the business-something not generally afforded to anyone other than full time builders- that's how good he was but of course, he himself would never tell you that.
I didn't get to talk to him much but maybe 4-5 years ago he showed up at my shop. He was engaging, funny and insightful. I really enjoyed the visit- it was a nice surprise. I was hoping that our paths would cross again but they sadly didn't. Now, hearing of his passing I am reminded of the '70's and things that I saw in bicycle shops that impressed me. I will never forget that first Peter Johnson frame, or any of the other few that I saw over the last 40-odd years. RIP, mr. Johnson.