A deed may be unilateral or bilateral in its operation. In the former case it need be executed only by the obligor and is customarily called a deed poll. If the obligations are bilateral it would normally be executed by both parties and is called an indenture.47 Though one part only of an indenture is executed, the deed will nevertheless be binding if that part is delivered; but if there was no intent to deliver any part until all the parts were executed, there is no obligation until this condition is fulfilled.48
44 Butler & Baker's Case, 3 Co. 25a, 26 b; Renehan v. MeAvoy, 116 Md. 366, 81 Atl. 586; Roepke v. Nutemann, 96 Neb. 689, 146 N. W. 939; Buchanan v. Clark, 164 N. C. 56, 80 S. E. 424, and see infra, Sec. 212. It is immaterial that the grantor is dead when the deed is delivered by the third person to the grantee. Schooler v. Schooler, 258 Mo. 83, 167 8. W. 444 infra n. 58.
45 Cobban v. Cobban, 208 Fed. 231, 126 C. C. A. 431; Piercy v. Piercy, 18 Cal. App. 751, 124 Pac. 661; Elliott v. Merchants' Bank, 21 Cal. App. 636, 132 Pac. 280; Miles v. Robertson, 258 Mo. 717, 167 S. W. 1000; Thrush v. Thrush, 63 Or. 143, 126 Pac. 994; and see cases in the following section.
46See infra, ! 212.
47 In 2 Blackstone Comm. 295, it is said: "If a deed be made by more parties than one, there ought to be regularly as many copies of it as there are parties, and each should be cut or indented (formerly in acute angles instar dentium (like teeth), like the teeth of a saw, but at present in a waving line) on the top or side, to tally or correspond with the other; which so deed so made, is called an indenture."
"When the several parte of an indenture are interchangeably executed by the several parties, that part or copy which is executed by the grantor is usually called the original, and the rest are counterparts; though of late it is most frequent for all the parties to execute every part; which renders them all originals. A deed made by one party only is not indented, but polled or shaved quite even; and therefore called a deed-poll, or a single deed." See infra, Sec. 214, as to the obligation of one who accepts a deed poll executed by a grantor or obligor.
Sec. 211. How far intent to deliver must be accompanied with actual delivery. The English law has gone in modern times to an extreme directly opposite to that of the early law. In the early law the vital matter was actual surrender of possession irrespective of intent. In the modern English law intent seems sufficient without surrender of possession, and without any agreement between the parties that the obligor shall hold possession as bailee for the obligee. The House of Lords has held that a policy of insurance was delivered and therefore operative, though still in the possession of the insurance company, on the ground that the evidence showed an intention on the part of the company to execute the policy as an immediately binding obligation.49 Though generally the cases in the United States do not seem to have gone quite to the extreme of the English decisions, some cases at least seem to have accepted without question the English statement that the only thing essential to delivery is some manifestation by word or act on the part of the obligor that the instrument is to be immediately binding;50 but other authorities require
48In Diebold Safe & Lock Co. v. Morse, 226 Mass. 342, 115 N. E. 431, 432., the court said: "It is unnecessary to consider . . . the cases cited in the plaintiff's brief deciding that if one party executes its part of the indenture it shall be his deed, though the other party does not execute his part. These cases are to be distinguished from the case at bar, for the reason that it was here found as a fact that the contract was not binding until all parties had exchanged, executed and delivered both the indentures. The delivery of an instrument in writing does not make it operative, if delivered on a condition not fulfilled."
49 Xenos v. Wickman, L. R. 2 H. L. 206, followed in Roberts v. Security Co.,  1 Q. B. 111. One may guess that study of the civil law was responsible for the substitution of the subjective test of that law for the objective standard of the common law.
50 See for instance Stephens v. Stephens, 108 Ark. S3, 1S6 S. W. 837; Moore v. Trott, 162 Cal. 268, 122 Pac. 462; New York Life Ins. Co. v. Bab-cock, 101 Ga. 67, 30 S. E. 273, 42 L. R. A. 88,69 Am. St. Rep. 134; Rode-meir v. Brown, 169 111. 347, 48 N. E. 468, 61 Am. St. Rep. 176; Rose v. Mutual L. Ins. Co., 240 111. 45, 88 N. E. 204; Hoyt v. Northup, 256 111. 604,100 N. E. 164; Thurston v. Tubba, 257 111. 465,100 N. E. 947; Hathaway v. Cook, 258 111. 92, 101 N. E. 227; Little v. Eaton, 267 111. 623, 108 N. E. 727; Johnson v. Gerald, 169 Mass. 500, 48 N. E. 764; Mitchell v. Ryan, 3 not only an appropriate intent but an actual relinquishment by the grantor of the custody or control of the instrument.51 Most of the cases on this subject relate to conveyances of real estate, or to polices of insurance. The question of delivery, however, seems identical whatever the character of the deed or covenant.52