ORT. The Order of Railroad Telegraphers (ORT) was a United States labor union established in the late nineteenth century to promote the interests of telegraph operators working for the railroads. A telegraphist, telegrapher, or telegraph operator is an operator who uses a telegraph key to send and receive the Morse code in order to communicate by land lines or radio.
Background and early years.
While early telegraph lines often ran alongside railroad tracks in the United States, it was not until 1851 that the telegraph was first used for train routing by Charles Minot, Superintendent of the Erie Railroad. As the practice gained wider acceptance in the 1860s and 1870s, telegraphers would be stationed in individual depots along the railroad line in order to receive train orders from a centrally located dispatcher and report back on train movements; telegraphed train orders would be written out on paper and "handed up" to the crews of passing trains.
Nationalization of the railroads, 1917-1920
With the entry of the U.S. into the first World War, the railroad and telegraph industries were placed under government control. On December 26, 1917, the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) took control of the railroads.
The ORT in the 1920s
The early 1920s were the peak years for ORT membership; by 1922, the union boasted 78,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Some railroads, including the Santa Fe, the Louisville and Nashville, and the Great Northern, maintained essentially the same agreements with the ORT that they had established during the years of government control.
My speculation: This 18s was created by a ORT Union Member in 1902. One guy (ORT Union member) with this request from Hamilton through his jeweler in 1902. This is the only one known to exist today. Who knows if more than one was created. Everybody thought it was a good idea when viewed and later by 1910 everybody wanted to wear a smaller 16 size, not the old "yesterday's news" 18s. So, when they figured out that it was a good idea to have Hamilton Ball put ORT on their dials by 1910 everyone just wanted a 16 size, when requested from a jeweler by a ORT Union member 1910-1920. Thats why you see only ORT on dials and movements on the 16s.
But it is important to note that Telegraphers represented 2% of Railroad employees. “Trainmen” represented all the rest. The Railroad employees liked what the Telegraphers did with these 18 sizes from Hamilton and Ball. Therefore, the 16 size with “ORT” on the dial and/or movement represented 98% of the Railroad employees or “Trainmen”. “ORT” initials represented “Order of Railroad Trainmen”. Not “Telegraphers”, making this earlier single 18 size “Telegraphers” so incredibly rare.
This is the only ORT Ball known to exist. Hamilton Ball 18 size, Open Face, 21 Jewels, lever set, "Official ORT Standard", "Patt'd June 30, 1896", and "Aug. 18, 1896", serial No. 208,891. THIS IS A FINE COLLECTIBLE. DON'T INVEST IN THE STOCK MARKET or BONDS. BUY HARD ASSETS, SOMETHING PROVEN IN TIME.
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