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.”