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acknowledge, do hereby assign and transfer to said
claims and demands which I now have, and all which, at any time between the date hereof and the day of next, I may and shall have against for all sums of money due, and for all sums of money and demand which, at any time between the date hereof and the said day of next, may and shall become due to me, for services as
to liave and to hold the same to the said
his executors, administrators,
and assigns forever.
do hereby constitute and appoint the said and his assigns to be my attorney irrevocable in the premises, to do and perform all acts, matters, and things touching the premises, in the like manner to all intents and purposes as I could if personally present.
In Witness Whereof, I have set my hand and seal, this day of
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered in Presence of
SALES OF PERSONAL PROPERTY.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A SALE.
It is important to distinguish carefully between a sale and an agreement for a future sale. This distinction is sometimes overlooked; and hence the phrase "an executory contract of sale," that is, a contract of sale which is to be executed here. after, has come into use; but it is not quite accurate to speak of this as if it were a sale. Every actual sale is an executed contract, although payment or delivery may remain to be made. There may be an executory contract for sale, or a bargain that a future sale shall be made; but such a bargain is not a present sale; nor does it confer upon either party the rights or the obligations which grow out of the contract of sale.
A sale of goods is the exchange thereof for money. More precisely, it is the transfer of the property in goods from a seller to a buyer, for a price paid, or to be paid, in money. It differs from an exchange, in law; for that is the transfer of
chattels for other chattels ; while a sale is the transfer of chattels for money, which is the representative of all value.
Here we must pause to speak of the legal meaning of the word "property." It is seldom or never used in the law as it is in common conversation, to mean the things themselves which are bought, or sold, or owned. Because in law it means the ownership of the things, and not the things themselves.
If a bargain transfers the property in (which means the ownership of) the thing to another person for a price, it is a sale; and if it does not transfer the property, it is not a sale; and, on the other hand, if it be not a sale, it does not transfer the property. As soon as a thing is sold the buyer owns it, wherever it may be. And to constitute a sale at common law, all that is necessary is the agreement of competent parties that the property in (or ownership of) the subject-matter shall then pass from the seller to the buyer for a fixed price.
The sale is made when the agreement is made. The com. pletion of the sale does not depend upon the delivery of the goods by the seller, nor upon the payment of the price by the buyer. By the mutual assent of the parties to the terms of the sale, the buyer acquires at once the property and all the rights and liabilities of property; so that, in case of any loss or depreciation of the articles purchased, the buyer will be the sufferer; and he will be the gainer by any increase in their value.
It is, however, a presumption of the law, that the sale is to be immediately followed by payment and delivery, unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties. If, therefore, nothing appears but a proposal and an acceptance, and the vendee departs with. out paying or tendering the price, the vendor may elect to consider it no sale, and may, therefore, if the buyer comes at a later period and offers the price and demands the goods, refuse to let him have them. But a credit may be agreed on expressly, and the seller will be bound by it; and so he will be if the credit is inferred or implied from usage or from the circumstances of the case. And if there be a delivery and acceptance of the goods, or a receipt by the seller of earnest, or of part payment, the legal inference is that both parties agree to hold themselves
mutually bound by the bargain. Then the buyer has either the credit agreed upon, or such credit as from custom or the nature or circumstances of the case is reasonable. But neither delivery, nor earnest, nor part-payment, is essential to the completion of a contract of sale. They only prevent the seller from rescinding the contract of sale without the consent of the purchaser. Their effect upon sales under the provisions of the Statute of Frauds wiii be considered in the chapter on that subject. It may also be said that no one can be made to buy of another without his own assent. Thus, if A sends an order to B lor goods, and C sends the goods, he cannot sue for the price, if A repudiates the sale, although C had bought B's business.
The seller (if no delivery with credit for the price is agreed on) has a right to retain possession of the property sold until the price is paid. This right is called a lien, which means the right of retaining possession of property until some charge upon it, or some claim on account of it, is satisfied. It rests, therefore, on possession. Hence the seller (and every other person who has a lien) loses it by voluntarily parting with the posses sion, or by a delivery of the goods. And it is a delivery for this purpose, if he delivers a part without any purpose of sever ing that part from the remainder; or if he make a symbolical delivery which vests this right and power of possession in the buyer, as by the delivery of the key of a warehouse in which they are locked up.
If the seller delivers the goods to the buyer, as he thereby loses his lien, he cannot afterwards, by virtue of this lien, retake the goods and hold them. But if the delivery was made with an express agreement that non-payment of the price should revest the property in the seller, this agreement may be valid, and the seller can reclaim the goods from the buyer if the price be not paid.
If the buyer neglect or refuse to take the goods and pay the price within a reasonable time, the seller may resell them on notice to the buyer, and look to him for the deficiency by way of damages for the breach of the contract. The seller, in making such resale, acts as agent or trustee for the buyer; and his proceedings will be regulated and governed by the rules
usually applicable to persons acting in those capacities; and the principal one of these is, that he will be held to due care and diligence, and to perfect good faith.
Certain consequences flow from the rules and principles already stated which should be noticed. Thus, if the party to whom the offer of sale is made accepts the offer, but still refuses or neglects to pay the price, and there are no circumstances indicating a credit, or otherwise justifying the refusal or neglect, the seller may, as we have said, disregard the acceptance of his offer, and consider the contract as never made, or as rescinded. It would, however, be proper and prudent on the part of the seller expressly to demand payment of the price before he treated the sale as null; and a refusal or neglect would then give him at once a right to hold and treat the goods. as his own. So, too, if the seller unreasonably neglected or refused to deliver the goods sold, and especially if he refused to deliver them, the buyer thereby acquires the right to consider that no sale was made, or that it has been avoided (or annulled). But neither party is bound to exercise the right thus acquired by the refusal or neglect of the other, but may consider the sale as complete; and the seller may sue the buyer for non-payment, or the buyer may sue the seller for non-delivery.
If the seller has merely the right of possession, as if he hired the goods; or if he has the possession only, as if he stole them, or found them, he cannot sell them and give good title to the buyer against the owner; and the owner may therefore recover them even from an honest purchaser who was wholly ignorant of the defect in the title of him from whom he bought them. This follows from the rule above stated, that only he who has in himself a right of property can sell a chattel, because the sale must transfer the right of property from the seller to the buyer. The only exception to the above rule is where money, or negotiable paper transferable by delivery (which is considered as money), is sold or paid away. In either case, he who takes it in good faith, and for value, from a thief or finder, holds it by good title. But if the owner once sold the thing, although he was deceived and induced to part with his property through fraud, he cannot reclaim it from one who in good faith buys it from the fraudulent party.
If anything remains to be done by the seller, to or in relation to the goods sold, for their ascertainment, identification, or completion, the property in the goods does not pass until that thing is done, and there is as yet no completed sale. There fore, if there be a bargain for the sale of specific goods, but there remains something material which the seller is to do to them, and they are casually burnt or stolen, the loss is the sell er's, because the property (or ownership) had not yet passed to the buyer.
So, if the goods are a part of a large quantity, they remain the seller's until selected and separated; and even after that, until recognized and accepted by the buyer, unless it is plain from words or circumstances that the selection and separation by the buyer are intended to be conclusive upon both parties.
If repairing or measuring or counting must be done by the seller before the goods are fitted for delivery or the price can be determined, or their quantity ascertained, they remain, until this be done, the seller's. And where part is measured and delivered this part passes to the vendee, but the portion not so set apart does not. But if the seller delivers them and the buyer accepts them, and any of these acts remain to be done, these acts will not be considered as belonging to the contract of sale, for that will be regarded as completed, and the owner. ship of the goods will have passed to the buyer, and these acts will be taken only to refer to the adjustment of the final settle. ment as to the price.
Thus, a purchaser offers a nurseryman a dollar apiece for twa hundred out of a row of two thousand trees, which are all alike, and the offer is accepted. This is no sale, because any two hundred may be delivered, and therefore the property or owner. ship of any specific two hundred does not pass. But if the purchaser or seller had said the first two hundred in the row, or the last, or every third tree, or otherwise indicated the specific trees, there would have been a sale, and by the sale those specific trees would have become at once the trees of the buyer. The seller would dig up and deliver them as the buyer's trees, and if they were burned up by accident an hour after the sale, and before digging, the buyer would lose the trees. If not specified,