THE New York Times is pleased to announce the publication of issue number 50,000. To push its serial that high has taken the Times 143 years and 177 days -- including the absence of a Sunday Times at first, and strike shutdowns in the 1960s and 1970s.
Along the way since Vol. I, No. 1, the Times' masthead has shed the hyphen (New-York, the spelling used to be) and the culminating period (Times.). Unlike almost every other U.S. daily, the Times has continued to print its top-of-Page 1, left-hand side Vol. (years, in Roman numerals) and No. (On to 100,000? At the very least.)
Not to be snooty about it, but in Baltimore, since 1837, The Sun has published about 55,000 issues, give or take a leap year here, Christmas and Fourth of July there.
The Times' announcement fails to mention a same-firm paper, the Evening Times, that flourished briefly. In Baltimore, since 1910, The Evening Sun has published roughly 25,000 issues. Has any household saved a copy of the full, complete run?
Nowadays, at the top of Page 1, attention focuses on the right-hand side number: the retail price. Originally, Times, Sun and other big-city organs were "penny papers." As recently as World War I, the Times still sold, at New York City kiosks, for 1 cent. The other day, that figure became 1 dollar (and the Sunday Times, $2.50).
The Times merely observes its numerical milestone; what it will celebrate, the announcement continues, is the 100th anniversary, next year, of the purchase by Adolph Simon Ochs, a Tennessean, of the paper founded by Henry J. Raymond and George Jones.
Remember the city-wide celebration, a decade ago, when this newspaper became 75 years old? On Tuesday, April 18, The Evening Sun will reach age 85.