Significant electrical effects were observed in association with the 23 February 1887 Ligurian earthquake. Magnetic oscillatory signals, recorded in several locations in France and England, are inconclusive, as they can be interpreted as a consequence of the shaking of the magnetometers induced by the seismic waves. While observations in a telephone switch in Cannes could suggest the presence of electrical currents during the earthquake, evidence that is more convincing was reported near Monaco, where a telegraph operator received an electric shock that caused muscular tetanisation. This could be the first reliable evidence of a strong coseismic electrical potential. The minimal ground electric potential difference able to generate this condition is estimated to be of the order of 40 V. These observations, combined with similar accounts in Italy and in Martinique during early operation of telegraph networks, also suggest the existence of electrical phenomena occurring seconds or minutes before the main shock.