John and Vicki Swift
Hawk Chalk Vol. XXVIII, No. 1, April 1989
Peter J. Asborno
Ye Olde Bellmaker 1912-1989
Peter J. Asborno died on March 15, the week af-
ter celebrating his 77th birthday. Pete was a pre-
mier craftsman and artisan who perfected 3 dif-
ferent designs for falconry bells. Through his bell
business, Pete carried on a vast correspondence
and was a friend to many falconers.
Pete’s interest in birds started with homing pi-
geons, and he won many trophies and ribbons in
competitions. After World War II, Pete teamed up
with the late Dr. William F. Russell for his rst ef-
forts in falconry. He ew tundra peregrines, and
there was never a better duck hawker.
Prior to his death, Pete made arrangements for
his bell business to go to a pupil (also a falconer
and hood maker), Ricardo Velarde. Ricardo
spent considerable time working with Pete, and
he is taking over his backlog of orders. It will
take time for him to get caught up with all the
back orders, but all orders accepted by Pete will
be shipped.
— Information provided by Hal Webster
Pete’s bell shop
Hawk Chalk Vol. XXI, No. 1, April, 1982
By Ye Olde Bellmaker — Pete Asborno
Since I wrote an article about a year ago on an-
nealing bells for longevity, I’ve had some inqui-
ries on the procedure. I have been asked if the
annealing could be done with a propane torch,
and, indeed it can. Heat only to a dull red. The
bells can be quenched in water, but I prefer to al-
low them to cool normally.
My comments and suggestions have also caused
many to examine their bells , more carefully. I
have been asked by several falconers why I do
not drill the hole (which is, in fact, a hinge) in the
area of overlapped metals in the top and bot-
tom bell halves of my Acorn bells, so that there
will be two thicknesses of metal surrounding the
hole -- a good question. The reason that I do not
is that stiffening the hole area has the same ef-
fect as using a heavier bell metal. It causes a
higher vibratory rate, resulting in higher pitch and
less volume and range. I do not sacrice tone,
volume and range for longevity. You will note that
all Indian bells are stiffened by a pulled-in, sil-
ver-soldered waist at the equator, but the hole is
drilled below this area.
I have noted in recent years a marked trend to-
ward the use of smaller bells. This is understand-
able since a great number of birds are carrying
telemetry gear also. In fact, many falconers use
only one small bell with telemetry. The smaller
the bell, the more it is affected by stiffening the
hole area. As a matter of fact, with too much
rigidity in that area a small bell becomes little
more than a rattle. I have been making a group
of small bells to meet this trend to smaller, lighter
bells. These small bells are my two-tensile, two-
metal, roundish shaped bells of silver (nickle sil-
ver) and beryllium, for kestrel, merlin, sharpshin,
and Coopers. They range in size from 3/32”
smaller in diameter than a dime to 1/16” smaller
than a penny. These small bells have excellent
tone, volume, and range, and their weight is held
to an absolute minimum.
— Extracted from “The Bells of Peter J.
Asborno” by Tom Gossard for The Archives
of Falconry.
Peter J. Asborno was born in Denver, Colorado
on March 6, 1912. He graduated from North
Denver High School and worked as a tool and
die maker for the Burlington Railroad. He later
became a master machinist for Coors Brewery
and Dow Chemical. He later formed his own
business in the construction supply industry.
After meeting Dr. William F. Russell and read-
(1940), Pete began a lifelong love affair with fal-
conry. He ew with his good friend Hal Webster,
William Russell, Willard Johnson, Larry Zuk,
and others in the Denver area. Pete was one of
the original members of NAFA (1961) (Mountain
Director 1962-1964), the Colorado Hawking
Club and the falconry Club of America (1954).
Pete was known for gamehawking with Tundra
Peregrines. His success with these birds was a
conversation topic for decades.
As successful a falconer as he was, Pete was
better known as the best bell-maker in the
world. In the early 1940s, Hal showed Pete his
rst falconry bell, an Indian bell hand-made by
Muhammed Din (Lahore, Pakistan). Because of
his mechanical experience, Pete knew he could
make a better bell. Pete made his rst bell before
he obtained his rst large falcon! Since then, a
good part of his life was devoted to falconry and
bell making.
Pete with the Cessna 140 he ew
for 4 years. Dec. 1968.
Pete with the 1946 Ercoupe bought in 1969.
“Love her!”
Pete’s “little bird.” Recovered, repainted.
0–200 engine in 1974.
Pete and Hal Webster, with just trapped
tiercel prairie falcon. Colorado, 1949
Pete and friends
Above: Pete and his falcon with magpie. Spring 1950.
Below: Larry Zuk and Pete with falcons, an after-
noon’s catch (Ieft) and trophies (right).
Broomeld, Colorado. Photos by Larry Zuk
1938 Luscombe, the plane in which
Pete learned to y. July, 1967
1942 Bellanca which Pete ew for 2 years
Pete and passage Peregrine. 1941 Chevy (new).