“People never notice anything,” says Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. We’re betting they’ll notice this.
It’s a one-sentence note, scribbled by Salinger to his maid in 1989, and as Jezebel puts it, currently worth “about $1,600 a word.” That’s because it’s for sale on eBay for a cool $50,000.
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The note itself, “lightly creased, fine condition” and handwritten on what appears to be monogrammed stationary, is rather mundane, reading simply:
Dear Mary — Please make sure all the errands are done before you go on vacation, as I do not want to be bothered with insignificant things. Thank you. J.D. Salinger
It’s unclear how the seller—HistoryForSale, which describing itself as “the world’s largest dealer of authentic autographs and manuscripts”—got its hands on the note. HFS only offers speculative details, suggesting that the note was probably written in “Cornish, New Hampshire, 1989 March 12,” and repeatedly teasing the note’s rareness, claiming “Salinger’s autograph in any form is scarce and desirable. Because of Salinger’s obsession with his privacy, his letters are almost never offered for sale.”
Someone’s chance to own a piece of the writer who disappeared from public view in the early 1950s and passed away January 27, 2010? Who can say. Collectors can be a strange lot, reverently snatching up everything from airsickness bags to staplers to sugar packets.
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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.