The Front Page of the New York Times Had an Error on It for Over a Century

The newspaper discovered it in 1999.

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Tony Burns / Getty Images

For more than a century, there was a numbering error on the front page of the New York Times every day, a bit of trivia going viral this week that was reported by The Atlantic via the blog Futility Closet.

In 1999, a news assistant named Aaron Donovan discovered the numbering of the issues was 500 issues off, and the newspaper published a correction on Jan. 1, 2000, explaining the backstory:

On Feb. 6, 1898, it seems, someone preparing the next day’s front page tried to add 1 to the issue number in the upper left corner (14,499) and came up with 15,000. Apparently no one noticed, because the 500-issue error persisted until yesterday (No. 51,753). Today The Times turns back the clock to correct the sequence: this issue is No. 51,254.

Thus an article on March 14, 1995, celebrating the arrival of No. 50,000 was 500 days premature. It should have appeared on July 26, 1996.

In the end, “To err is human.”

18 comments
Chaz
Chaz

This is stupid. Why fix it? One does not tamper with serially numbered inventory ... Now the Times will have two different issues, a year and change apart, numbered 51,254 through 51,753.

Tical
Tical

I noticed the error the first time it occurred. I even recall emailing the editor in 1898 to alert him.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

To echo SherriAnnPardo...it's The New York Times, not, "the New York Times."


Sheesh, TIME Magazine, do you bother to employ editors or Spell Check your articles anymore??

GlenDeGelnor
GlenDeGelnor

...............................I can die now.

IanCoutts
IanCoutts

Just goes to show you that you can't trust the papers.

eagle11772
eagle11772

The New York Times is a liberal piece of crap anyways.

BillWeeden
BillWeeden

Today's issue, which I am looking at right now, is #56,385.  Where do you get 51,254?

SherriAnnPardo
SherriAnnPardo

There is also a glaring error in the headline and the first paragraph of this article. The name of the newspaper in question is "The New York Times," not "the New York Times." See the great big sign on the front of its building? The word "the" is part of the name of the newspaper, and therefore should be capitalized. 

GlenDeGelnor
GlenDeGelnor

@TanmayLololAnaisPradhan @GlenDeGelnor@SherriAnnPardo ................in NY that would be a pot hole.........................but I still love you.