It is an "elementary principle that the law will not enter into an inquiry as to the adequacy of the consideration." 64 This rule is almost as old as the law of consideration itself.65 Therefore anything which fulfils the requirements of consideration will support a promise whatever may be the comparative value of the consideration, and of the thing promised. Thus allowing a defendant to weigh boilers is sufficient consideration for a promise to give them up in good condition,66 and surrendering a document though it has no value is sufficient consideration for a promise to pay a large price.66a The surrender of a piece of paper on which a void guaranty had been written was sufficient consideration for a promise to pay ten thousand pounds.67 A quit-claim deed conveying such interest as the grantor may have is sufficient consideration though the grantor in fact had no interest.68 So delivering for record an invalid deed,69 or transferring worthless corporate stock.70
It must be observed, however, that if the consideration bargained for was not the paper but a right supposed to be but not in fact evidenced by the paper, the fact that the paper was itself surrendered will not support a promise, since the surrender of the paper is here merely a condition, not a consideration.71 Therefore, it is generally true, that a note given in renewal for one void for want of consideration is like the first invalid and unenforceable.72 Discharging a debt barred by the Statute of Limitations, 73 or naming a child in accordance with the wishes of the promisor,74 are sufficient considerations, and other illustrations might easily be given of the principle that adequacy of consideration is immaterial.75 Sometimes a consideration of one dollar or other small sum is paid or alleged to have been paid in return for a promise to give or do something of considerable value. There seems no reason to depart in such a case from the general rule that adequacy of consideration will not be regarded,76 though an inquiry
Crocker v. Whitney, 10 Mass. 319; Parkhurst v. Dinkerson, 21 Pick. 307. In Innes v. Dunlop the court said "The assignment of the bond to the plaintiff was a consideration for the assumpsit by the defendant."
64 Westlake v. Adams, S C. B. (N. S.) 248, 265, per Byles, J.
65In Sturlyn v. Albany, Cro. Eliz. 67, it is said: "when a thing is to be done by the plaintiff, be it never so small, this is sufficient consideration to ground an action."
66Bainbridge v. Firmstone, 8 A. & E.743.
66a Wilkinson v. Oliveira, 1 Bing. (N. C.) 490; Haigh v. Brooks, 10 A. & E 309; Wiltton v. Eaton, 127 Mass. 171; Judy v. Louderman, 48 Oh. St.
562; Churchill v. Bradley, 58 Vt. 403, 56 Am. Rep. 663. But see McCollum v. Edmonds, 109 Ala. 322, 19 So. 501.
67 Haigh v. Brooks, 10 A. & E. 309. To the same effect is Harran v. Klaus, 79 Wis. 383, 385, 48 N. W. 479.
68 McNeal v. Calkins, 50 111. App. 17; Mullen p. Hawkins, 141 Ind. 363, 40 N. E. 797; Rowe v, Barnes, 101 Ia. 302, 70 N. W. 197; Washington Life Ins. Co. v. Marshall, 56 Minn. 250, 57 N. W. 658. But see infra, Sec. 137.
69Hall v. Sears, 210 Mass. 185, 96 N. E. 141. But see infra, Sec. 137.
70State Bank v. Gates, 114 Ia. 323, 86 N. W. 311; Atwater v. Stromberg, 75 Minn. 277, 77 N. W. 963. See also Coles v. Kennedy, 81 Ia. 360, 46 N. W. 1038, 25 Am. St. Rep. 503.
71 See quotation from Foster v. Dawber, 6 Exch. 839,948, supra, Sec.112.
72Alabama Nat. Bank v. Halsey, 109 Ala. 196,. 19 So. 522; Cochran v. Perkins, 146 Ala. 689, 40 So. 351; Pacific Rys. Advertising Co. v. Carr, 29 Cal. App. 722, 725, 157 Pac. 529; Gillbert v. Brown, 123 Ky. 703,97 S. W. 40, 7 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1053; Schroeder v. Fink, 60 Md. 436; Widger v. Baxter, 190 Mass. 130, 76 N. E. 509; Comings v. Leedy, 114 Mo. 454, 21 S. W. 804.
73 Jackson v. Stone (Tex. Civ. App.), 156 S. W. 960.
74Wolford v. Powers, 85 Ind. 296; Daily v. Minnick, 117 Ia. 563, 91 N. W. 913, 60 L. R. A. 840; Eaton v. Libbey, 165 Maw. 218, 42 N. E. 1127, 52 Am. St. Rep. 511; Gardner v. Denison, 217 Mass. 492,105 N. E. 369, 51 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1108.
75 Bloodworth v. Booser, 99 Ark. 238, 138 S. W. 467; Colt v. McConnell, 116 Ind. 249, 19 N. E. 106; Mullen v. Hawkins, 141 Ind. 363, 40 N. E. 797; Train v. Gold, 5 Pick. 380, 384; Wilton, 127 Mass. 174; Whitney v. Clary, 145 Mass. 156, 13 N. E. 393; Mason v. Flanagan, (Mass. 1919,) 123 N. E. 614; Williams v. Jensen, 75 Mo. 681; Perkins v. Clay, 64 N. II. 518; Traphagen's Ex. v. Voorhees, 44 N. J. Eq. 21, 12 Atl. 895; Worth v. Case, 42 N. Y. 362;
Earl v. Peck, 64 N. Y. 596; Cowee v. Cornell, 75 N. Y. 91, 31 Am. Rep. 428; Judy v Louderman, 48 Oh. St. 562, 29 N. E. 181; Cumming's Appeal, 67 Pa, 404; Presbyterian Board v. Smith, 209 Pa. 361, 58 Atl. 689; Townsend v. Neuhardt, 139 Tenn. 695, 203 S. W. 255; Griffin v. Bell (Tex. Civ. App.), 202 S. W. 1034; Giddings v. Giddings' Admr., 51 Vt. 227, 31 Am. Rep. 682.
76 In Dutchman v. Tooth, 6 Bing. N. C. 577, a guaranty was given in consideration of two shillings and sixpence. The court held this consideration sufficient. In Lawrence v. McCal-mont, 2 How. 426, 452,11 L. Ed. 326, and in Davis v. Wells, 104 U. S. 159, 26 L. Ed. 686, a contract of guaranty stated to be for the consideration of one dollar, was held to be supported by sufficient consideration. In Smith v. Bangbam, 156 Cal. 359,104 Pac. 689, 28 L. R. A. (N. S.) 522, an option was given for the sum of one dollar to convey land worth seventeen thousand dollars on tender of that sum within a limited time, and the option was held specifically enforceable, although it was found by the trial court that the sum of one dollar was grossly inadequate.
So options for the consideration of one dollar were enforced in Guyer v. Warren, 175 111. 328, 51 N. E. 580.
whether the dollar was really bargained for as the consideration, will always be pertinent; for where a promise of value is stated to have been made for a small money consideration, there is often reason to doubt whether a bargain to exchange the sum mentioned for the promise was really intended by the parties.77 The only exception to the legal sufficiency of inadequate consideration is where the consideration is of the same nature as the thing promised and is equal or smaller in amount. The reason for this exception is that in such a case it is impossible for the law to indulge in the presumption of equivalence between the consideration and the promise. The most frequent illustration of this occurs in an exchange of money for a promise to pay money. A consideration of one dollar will not support a promise to pay at the same time and place a larger sum.78 So a bargain stated to be "in consideration of one dollar by each to the other paid " does not support a contract even though it be assumed that the sum of one dollar was actually paid by each party to the other.79 For the same reason an agreement to surrender and discharge mutual liquidated claims of unequal amounts is invalid.80
See also Seyferth v Groves, etc., R. Co., 217 111. 483, 75 N. E. 522; Lowther Oil Co. v. Guffey, 52 W. Va. 88, 43 8. E. 101; Tibbs v. Zirkle, 55 W. Va. 49, 46 8. E. 701; Rease v. Kittle, 56 W. Va. 269, 49 S. E. 150.
In Marsh v. Lott, 8 Cal. App. 384, 97 Pac. 163, an option to sell land for $100,000 was held sufficiently supported by a present payment of twenty-fire cents. But see contra, Thompson v. Reid, 31 Ky. L. Rep. 176, 101 S. W. 964, where a consideration of one dollar was held insufficient; Killebrew v. Murray, 151 Ky. 345, 151 S. W. 662, where a promise to pay 15 a year was held insufficient to support a promise of valuable rights; Owens v. Gonsicana Petroleum Co. (Tex. Civ. App.), 169 8. W. 192, and cases cited. In the Texas case the right given one party to cancel a valuable contract at any time by the payment of $5 was held to invalidate it.
77See, e. g., Thompson v. Reid, 31 Ky. L. Rep. 176,101S. W. 964.
78Schnell v. Nell, 17 Ind. 29, 79 Am. Dec. 453; Shepard v. Rhodes, 7 R. I. 470, 84 Am. Dec. 573; Rease v. Kittle, 56 W. Va. 269,277,49 S. E. 150. Any difference in place or medium of payment or priority in time will make the smaller payment sufficient consideration. See infra, Sec. 121.
79 Hall v. Allfree (Ind. App.), 99 N. E. 813. See also Velie Motor Car Co. v. Kopmeier Motor Co., 194 Fed. 324, 331, 114 C. C. A. 284.
80Walan v. Kerby, 89 Mass. 1, 3; Webster v. McLaren, 19 N. D. 751, 123 N. W. 395. If one or both claims were unliquidated the agreement would effectually discharge them, Jones v. Sawkins, 5 C. B. 142; Alvord v. Marsh, 12 Allen, 603; Vedder v. Vedder, 1 Denio, 257; Morehouse v. Second Nat. Bank, 98 N. Y. 503.
In equity as at law, adequacy of consideration is of no importance in determining the existence of a contract, but it is of importance sometimes as a factor determining the right of the plaintiff to specific performance.81 Inadequacy of consideration is also important in connection with other circumstances as evidence where fraud is asserted as a defence.