It is now settled that the acceptance in case of contract by correspondence where an answer is invited by post is complete as soon as the letter of acceptance is dispatched.53 Where an offer is made by post it may be assumed that an answer by post is invited unless the contrary is indicated, but the rule is not necessarily confined to cases where the offer is made in that manner. "Where the circumstances are such that it must have been within the contemplation of the parties that, according to the ordinary usages of mankind, the post might be used as a means of communicating the acceptance of an offer, the acceptance is complete as soon as posted."54 The rule has not been established without vigorous dissent.55
51 WHITE v. CORLIES, 46 N. Y. 467, Throckmorton Gas. Contracts, 1. See "Contracts;' Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 22; Cent. Dig. §§ 82-92, 104-108.
52 "I have always believed the law to be this, that when an offer is made to another party, and in that offer there is a request, expressed or implied, that he must signify his acceptance by doing some particular thing, then as soon as he does that thing he is bound. If a man sent an offer abroad saying, 'I wish to know whether you will supply me with goods at such and such a price, and if you agree to that you must ship the first cargo as soon as you get this letter,' there can be no doubt that as soon as the cargo was shipped the contract would be complete, and if the cargo went to the bottom of the sea it would go to the bottom of the sea at the risk of the or-derer. So, again, where, as in the case of Ex parte Harris, In re Imperial Land Company of Marseilles, Law Rep. 7 Ch. App. 5S7, a person writes a letter and says, 'I offer to take an allotment of shares,' and he expressly or impliedly says, 'If you agree with me, send an answer by the post,' there, as soon as he has sent that answer by the post, and put it out of his control, and done an extraneous act which clinches the matter, and shows beyond all doubt that each side is bound, I agree the contract is perfectly plain and clear." Brogden v. Railway Co., 2 App. Cas. 666, 691, per Lord Blackburn. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 22; Cent. Dig. §§ 82-92, 104-108.
53 Adams v. Lindsell, 1 Barn. & Ald. 681; Potter v. Sanders, 6 Hare, 1; Levy v. Cohen, 4 Ga. 1; Tayloe v. Insurance Co., 9 How. 390, 13 L. Ed. 187; Averill v. Hedge, 12 Conn. 424; Vassar v. Camp, 11 N. Y. 441; Darlington Iron Co. v. Foote (C. C.) 16 Fed. 646; Thomson v. James, 18 Dunl., B. & M. 1; MINNESOTA LINSEED OIL CO. v. LEAD CO., 4 Dill. 431, Fed. Cas. No. 9,63."), Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 24; Mac-tier's Adm'rs v. Frith, 6 Wend. (N. Y.) 103, 21 Am. Dec. 262; Harris' Case, L. R. 7 Ch. 587; Trevor v. Wood, 36 N. Y. 307, 93 Am. Dec. 511; Wheat v. Cross, 31 Md. 99, 103, 1 Am. Rep. 28; Ferrier v. Storer, 63 Iowa, 484, 19 N. W. 288, 50 Am. Rep. 752; Stockham v. Stockham, 32 Md. 196; Moore v. Pierson, 6 Iowa, 279, 71 Am. Dec. 409; Perry v. Iron Co., 15 R. I. 380, 5 Atl. 632, 2 Am. St Rep. 902; Calhoun v. Atchison, 4 Bush (Ky.) 261, 96 Am. Dec. 299; Hamilton v. Insurance Co., 5 Pa. 339; Abbott v. Shepard, 48 N. H. 14; Hunt v. Higman, 70 Iowa, 406, 30 N. W. 769; Kempuer v. Cobn, 47 Ark. 519, 1 S. W. 869, 5S Am. Rep. 775; Cobb v. Foree, 38 111. App. 255; Burton v. United States, 202
There was at first some hesitation in applying this rule in cases where the letter of acceptance was lost or delayed in transmission; but it is now settled by the great weight of authority that, when an acceptance has been posted, the contract is complete, and cannot be affected by the subsequent fate of the letter.56 "The acceptor," it has been said, "in posting the letter has 'put it out of his control, and done an extraneous act which clinches the matter, and shows beyond all doubt that each side is bound.' How, then, can a casualty in the post, whether resulting in delay - which in commercial transactions is often as bad as no delivery - or in nondelivery, unbind the parties or unmake the contract?" 57 The rule is the same where the telegraph is properly used as the mode of signifying acceptance, and the contract is complete on delivery of the message to the telegraph company.58 This rule, of course, does not apply where the offer expressly or by implication stipulates that the contract is to be complete, and the offer binding, when the acceptance is received. In such a case the mailing of the acceptance is not enough.59
U. S. 344. 26 Sup. Ct. 6S8, 50 L. Ed. 1057, 6 Ann. Cas. 362, and note; Scottish-American Mortg. Co. v. Davis (Tex. Civ. App.) 72 S. W. 217. Contra, McCulloch v. Insurance Co., 1 Pick. (Mass.) 278 (but see Brauer v. Shaw, 168 Mass. 198, 46 N. E. 617, 60 Am. St. Rep. 387). But communication of acceptance to the offeror's agent is not sufficient, even where it is accompanied by a direction to give notice. New v. Germania Fire Ins. Co., 171 Ind. 33, 85 N. E. 703, 131 Am. St. Rep. 245. See "Contracts," Dec, Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
54 Henthorn v. Fraser,  2 Ch. 27, per Lord Herschell. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
55 See dissenting opinion of Bramwell, L. J., in HOUSEHOLD INS. CO. v. GRANT, 4 Exch. Div. 221, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 12; British & Am. Tel. Co. v. Colson, L. R. 6 Exch. 108; McCulloch v. Insurance Co., 1 Pick. (Mass.) 278; Langdell, Sum. Cont. §§ 14, 15; Parsons, Cont (8th Ed., Williston) *484, note L
There is much force In the argument that communication is essential to the counter promise which is the consideration, and that hence the acceptance cannot take effect until its receipt Moreover, granting that the offeror must be taken to have contemplated that the post may be used as a means of communicating the acceptance, it is its communication, and not the mere putting it in course to be communicated, which he practically contemplates. It is a somewhat violent assumption to attribute to him any different intention than that which would be expressed by making the offer conditional upon receipt of the acceptance, which would be enforced. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
56 HOUSEHOLD INS. CO. v. GRANT, 4 Exch. Div. 221, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 12; Mactier's Adm'rs v. Frith, 6 Wend. (N. T.) 103, 21 Am. Dec. 262; Tayloe v. Insurance Co., 9 How. 390, 13 L. Ed. 187; Washburn v. Fletcher, 42 Wis. 152; Vassar v. Camp, 11 N. Y. 441; Dunlop v. Higgins, 1 H. L. Cas. 381; Bryant v. Booze, 55 Ga. 438; Howard v. Daly, 61 N. Y. 362, 19 Am. Rep. 285; Duncan v. Topham, 8 C. B. 225; Chytraus v. Smith, 141 I11. 231, 30 N. E. 450; College Mill Co. v. Fidler (Tenn. Ch.) 58 S. W. 382. See, contra, British & Am. Tel. Co. v. Colson, L. R. 6 Exch. 108, disapproved in Harris' Case, supra. See "Contracts" Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. 119, 120.
To constitute an acceptance, however, the letter must be actually and properly posted. If it is delivered to an agent of the acceptor, and he neglects to mail it, or to a postman not authorized to receive letters, or if it is posted without a stamp, or improperly addressed, it is not an acceptance.60
In England, where the doctrine was first established that the mailing of a letter of acceptance makes the contract, a letter passes beyond the control of the sender when it is mailed; and such was formerly the case in this country. Under the present regulations of the United States Post Office Department,61 however, the sender may, upon proper identification, reclaim the letter from the office at which it has been mailed, or even require the postmaster at such office to telegraph to the office to which it is addressed, directing its return, if undelivered. Since, therefore, a letter does not pass beyond the control of the sender until it is delivered, a question has arisen as to whether the mere posting of the letter constitutes an irrevocable acceptance.62 In accordance with the general rule, however, it has been held that it does, and that a contract exists from the moment of mailing the letter, notwithstanding that it is reclaimed from the mails by the sender.63
57HOUSEHOLD INS. CO. v. GRANT, 4 Exch. Div. 221, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 12. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
58 MINNESOTA LINSEED OIL CO. v. LEAD CO., 4 Dill. 431, Fed. Cas. No. 9,635, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 24; Trevor v. Wood, 36 N. Y. 307, 93 Am. Dec. 511; Brauer v. Shaw, 168 Mass. 198, 46 N. E. 617, 60 Am. St. Rep. 387. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
59 Yassar v. Camp, 11 N. Y. 441; Lewis v. Browning, 130 Mass. 173; Haas v. Myers, 111 111. 421, 53 Am. Rep. 634. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
60 Henderson v. Coke Co., 140 U. S. 25, 11 Sup. Ct. 691, 35 L. Ed. 332; Maclay v. Harvey, 90 111. 525, 32 Am. Rep. 35; Blake v. Insurance Co., 67 Tex. 160, 2 S. W. 368, 60 Am. Rep. 15; In re London & N. Bank  1 Ch. 220. Deposit of a letter in a street letter box is equivalent to deposit in the post office. Wood v. Callaghan, 61 Mich. 402, 28 N. W. 162, 1 Am. St Rep. 597. "While constructive notice of acceptance is permitted to take the place of actual communication in such cases, still the law requires that the message of acceptance shall pass beyond the recall or control of the acceptor." Busher v. New York Life Ins. Co., 72 N. II. 551, 58 Atl. 41 See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 26; Cent. Dig. §§ 119, 120.
61 U. S. Post Office Regulations, (1913 Ed.) §§ 552, ! Clark Cont.(3D Ed.) - 3