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however, even if they were paid for, they remain the property of the nurseryman, because, instead of an actual sale, there is only a bargain that he will select two hundred from the lot, and take
and deliver them. And if they are destroyed before delivery, this is the loss of the nurseryman.
Moreover, it is to be noticed that a contract for a future sale to take place either at a future point of time, or when a certain event happens, does not, when that time arrives, or on the hap pening of the event, become of itself a sale, transferring the property. The party to whom the sale was to be made does not then acquire the property, and cannot by tendering the price acquire a right to possession; but he may tender the price, or whatever else would be the fulfillment of his obligation, and then sue the owner for his breach of contract, if he wil not deliver the goods. But the property in the goods remains in the original owner.
For the same reason that the property in the goods must be pass by a sale, there can be no actual sale of any chattel or goods which have no existence at the time. It may, as we have seen, be a good contract for a future sale, but it is not a present sale. Thus, in contracts for the sale of articles yet to be manufactured, the subject of the contract not being in existence when the parties enter into their engagement, no property passes until the chattel is in a finished state, and has been specially appropriated to the person giving the order, and approved and accepted by him.
As there can be no sale unless of a specific thing, so there is no sale but for a price which is certain, or which is capable of being made certain by a distinct reference to a certain standard.
DELIVERY AND ITS INCIDENTS.
When a sale is effected, the buyer has an immediate right to the possession of the goods, as soon as he pays or tenders the price; or at once, without payment, if the sale be on credit. And the seller is bound to deliver the goods.
What is is sufficient delivery is sometimes a question of
difficulty. In general, it is sufficient, if the goods are placed in the buyer's hands or his actual possession, or if that is done which is the equivalent of this transfer of possession. Some modes and instances of delivery we have already seen. We add, that if the goods are landed on a wharf alongside of the ship which brings them, with notice to the buyer, or knowledge on his part, this may be a sufficient delivery, if usage, or the obvious nature of the case, make it equivalent to actually giving possession. And usage is of the utmost importance in determining questions of this kind.
In general, the rule may be said to be, that that is a sufficient delivery which puts the goods within the actual reach or power of the buyer, with immediate notice to him, so that there is nothing to prevent him from taking actual possession.
When, from the nature or situation of the goods, an actual Jelivery is difficult or impossible, as in case of a quantity of timber floating in a boom, slight acts, as touching the timber, or even going near it and pointing it out, are sufficient to con.titute a delivery, if they sufficiently indicate the transfer of possession. So if the property which is the subject of the sale is at sea, the indorsement and delivery of the bill of lading, or other instrument of title, is sufficient to constitute a delivery, and by such indorsement and delivery of the bill of lading the property in the goods immediately vests in the buyer; and he can transfer this to one who buys of him, by his own indorsement and delivery of the bill of lading. Where goods at sea are sold, the seller should send or deliver the bill of lading to the buyer within a reasonable time, that he may have the means of offering the goods in the market. And it has been held that a refusal of the bill of lading authorized the buyer to rescind the sale.
Until delivery, the seller is bound to keep the goods with ordinary care, and is liable for any loss or injury arising from the want of such care or of good faith. But if he exercises ordinary care and diligence in keeping the commodity, he is not liable for any loss or depreciation of it, unless this arises from some defect which he has warranted not to exist. Thus, in a case in New York. A sold to B a certain quantity of beef, B
paying the purchase-money in full; and it was agreed between them that the beef should remain in the custody of A until it should be sent to another place. Some time after, B received a part, which proved to be bad, and the whole was found, on inspection, to be unmerchantable. The court held that, as the beef was good at the time of its sale, the vendee (or buyer) must bear the loss of its subsequent deterioration.
If the buyer lives at a distance from the seller, the seller must send the goods in the manner indicated by the buyer. If no directions are given, he must send them in such a way as usage, or in the absence of usage, as reasonable care would require. And generally all customary and proper precautions should be taken to prevent loss or injury in the transit. If these are taken, the goods are sent at the risk of the buyer, and the seller is not responsible for any loss. But he is responsible for any loss or injury happening through the want of such care or precaution. And if he sends them by his own servant, or carries them himself, they are in his custody, and, generally, at his risk, until delivery. But if the buyer distinctly indicates the way or means by which he wishes that the goods should be sent to him, as by such a carrier, or such a line, if the seller complies with his directions, and exercises ordinary care over the goods until they are delivered to the person or line so pointed out, his responsibility ends with this delivery, in the same manner as it would if he delivered the goods into the hands of the owner.
This question of delivery has a very great importance in another point of view; and that is, as it bears upon the honesty, and therefore the validity, of the transaction. As the owner of goods ought to have them in his possession, and as a transfer of possession usually does, and always should, accompany a sale, the want of this transfer is an indication, more or less strong, that the sale is not a real one, but a mere cover. The prevailing rule may be stated thus: Delivery is not essential to a sale at common law; but if there is no delivery, and a third party, without knowledge of the previous sale, purchases the same thing from the seller, he gains an equally valid title with the first buyer; and if he completes this title by acquiring posses
sion of the thing before the other, he can hold it against the other. So, also, unless delivery or possession accompany the transfer of the right of property, the things sold are subject to attachment by the creditors of the seller. And if the sale be completed, and nevertheless no change of possession takes place, and there is no certain and adequate cause or justification of the want or delay of this change of possession, the transac: tion will be regarded as fraudulent and void in favor of a third party, who, either by purchase or by attachment, acquires the property in good faith, and without a knowledge of the former sale. This fact, that the thing sold remained in the possession of the seller, might be explained, and if shown to be perfectly consistent with honesty, and to have occurred for good reasons, and especially if the delay in taking possession was brief, the litle of the first buyer would be respected.
If goods are sold in a shop or store, separated, and weighed or numbered if that be necessary, and put into a parcel, or otherwise made ready for delivery to the buyer, in his presence, and he request the seller to keep the goods for a time for him, this is so far a delivery as to vest the property in the goods in the buyer, and the seller becomes the bailee of the buyer. And if the goods are lost while thus in the keeping of the seller, without his fault, it is the loss of the buyer. (In law the word bail means “to deliver.” Thus a “bailor” is one who delivers a thing to another; the “bailee” is the party to whom it is delivered; and “bailment” is the delivery. The “bail” of a party who is arrested, is he or they to whom the arrested person is delivered or given up, on their agreement that he shall be forthcoming when required by law.)
In a contract of sale there is sometimes a clause providing that a mistake in description, or a deficiency in quality or quantity, shall not avoid the sale, but only give the buyer a right to deduction or compensation. But if the mistake or defect be great and substantial, and affects materially the availability of the thing for the purpose for which it was bought, the sale is nevertheless void, for the thing sold is not that which was to have been sold.
If the buyer knowingly receives goods so deficient or so
different from what they should have been that he might have refused them, he will be held to have waived the objection, and to be liable for the whole price; unless he can show a good reason for not returning them, as in the case of materials innocently used before discovery of the defects, or the like. Thus, where a man bought a chandelier warranted sufficient to light a certain room, and kept it six months, the court did not permit his to return it and refuse payment, although it was not what it had been warranted to be. Sometimes two or three months, or even less, is held too long a keeping to permit a subsequent return. But though the buyer cannot return the thing, yet, when the price is demanded, he may set off whatever damages he has sustained by the seller's breach of contract, and the seller can recover only the value to the buyer of the goods sold, even if that be nothing. But a iong delay or silence may imply a waiver of even this right on the part of the buyer.
One who orders many things at one time, and by one bargain, may, generally, refuse to receive a part without the rest; but if he accepts any part, he severs that part from the rest, and rebuts (or removes) the presumption that it was an entire contract; the buyer will then be held as having given a separate order for each thing, or part, and as therefore bound to receive such parts as are tendered, unless some distinct reason for refusal attaches to them. If many several things are bought at one auction, but by different bids, and especially if the name of the buyer be marked against each, there is a separate sale to him of each one, and it is independent of the others; so that he must take and pay for any one or more, although the others are not what they should be, or cannot be had. If, however, it could be shown by the nature of the case, or by evidence, that the things were so connected that one was bought entirely for the sake of the other he would not be obliged to take the one unless he could have the other. This rule applies also when the things sold are lots of land. Indeed, the general rule may be stated thus. The question whether it is one contract, so that the buyer shall not he bound to receive any part unless the whole be tendered to him, will be determined by ascertaining from all the facts whether the parts so belong together that it may reasonably be