Nicholas II’s telephone sold at auction for $2 million USD

On Friday 10th March, a telephone belonging to Emperor Nicholas II was sold at a Sotheby’s auction. The Romanov Week auction featured more than 100 items belonging to members of the Russian Imperial Family.

The most expensive lot was a telephone belonging to Emperor Nicholas II, which sold for a staggering 2 million US dollars, almost five times over the estimate.

“It’s a unique device made in 1915 at the Russian-Baltic Wagon factory in Petrograd. The telephone was presented it to the Tsar during the First World War, who used it for communicating with the Empress at Tsarskoye Selo during his trips to General Headquarters (Stavka) at Mogilev,” said Sotheby’s representative Robert Jefferson.

Following the February 1917 Revolution the telephone was confiscated on the order of the Provisional Government and transferred to the custody of the chief of the Petrograd garrison.

Following the riots that swept the capital in July 1917, the telephone was later stolen during the Russian Civil War and smuggled to Europe.

NOTE: In 1896, the Swedish manufacturer of telecommunications equipment Ericsson, installed the first telephone for Emperor Nicholas II in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

© Paul Gilbert. 11 March 2023