The question often arises whether a memorandum states with sufficient certainty the bargain to which it relates. Even though all the terms are included, they may be written in such an abbreviated way or with such brief description of the property that it is not apparent to an uninstructed person what the meaning of the writing may be. The question involved is the same whether the abbreviated description is of the parties, the goods, or other terms of the bargain. The general rule applicable to such cases was thus stated in a decision in Massachusetts:" "While parol evidence is not competent to contradict or vary the terms of such a memorandum to show what is intended, we are of opinion that the situation of the parties and the surrounding circumstances at the time when the contract was made may be shown to apply the contract to the subject-matter." It has been further held that abbreviations used by the parties or a private code could be translated and the meaning of them shown by parol evidence.85 A memorandum of a contract to answer for the debt other hand, it is considered by some of the authorities that the object of the statute, so far as lands are concerned, was to abrogate parol titles, and that this was sufficiently accomplished by a memorandum of the promise to convey the land, to be signed by the vendor, without requiring the other terms of the agreement to be stated. We need not decide which is the better reason, for we regard it as now settled, in this state, that all the terms of the contract need not appear in the memorandum."
In Alabama it is now requisite that the memorandum shall state the terms of the bargain including the exact forms of payment. Nelson v. Shelby, 96 Ala. 515, 11 So. 695, 38 Am. St. Rep. 116. The Missouri decisions cited by the Texas court have been also overruled. Ringer v. Holtzdaw, 112 Mo. 519, 20 S. W. 800; Biest v. Ver-steeg Shoe Co., 97 Mo. App. 137, 155, 70 S. W. 1081.
In Nebraska, however, it has been held, following the authority of the Texas cases, that a memorandum of the sale of land was valid though it failed to specify which quarter of a named section of land was intended; and though it did not state the terms and conditions on which payment of the price was to be made. Ruzicka v. Hotovy, 72 Neb. 589, 101 N. W. 328. In North v. Loomes,  1 K. B. 378, 385, Younger, J., expressed the opinion that in a suit for specific performance the defendant could not successfully set up the statute where the memorandum omitted a term of the bargain which was wholly for the plaintiff's advantage, and which he was willing to give up.
84 New England Wool Co. v. Standard Worsted Co., 165 Mass. 328, 332, 43 N. E. 112, 52 Am. St. Rep. 516.
85The leading case upon this point is Salmon Falls Mfg. Co. p. Goddard, 14 How. 446, 14 L. Ed. 493. In that or default of another must describe the debt guaranteed with sufficient certainty to enable it to be identified;86 but need not state all the terms of the contract with the principal debtor performance of which is guaranteed, even though that contract is oral. It is sufficient if that contract can be identified from the writing when applied to existing facts.87 A case the following memorandum was held sufficient:
Sept. 19,-W. W. Goddard, 12 mos.
300 bales S. F. drills..........
100 cases blue drills..........
Credit to commence when ship sails; not after Dec. 1-delivered free of charge for truckage.
R. M. M. W. W. G.
The blues, if color is satisfactory to purchaser.
So in Bibb v. Allen, 149 U. S. 481, 37 L. Ed. 819, the memorandum relied on was made up of slip contracts. The court said: "It is no valid objection to these 'slip contracts,' executed in duplicate, that the sales purported to be made on acoount of 'Albert,' 'Alfred,' 'Alexander,' 'Amanda,' and 'Winston,' etc., which names were adopted by the defendants, and which represented them and their account. Parol evidence was clearly competent to show that these fictitious names, which defendants had adopted, represented them as the parties for whose account the sales were made." And in Newell v. Radford, L. R. 3 C. P. 52; American Mfg. Co. v. Midland Steel Co., 101 Fed. 200; Sanborn v. Flagler, 9 Allen, 474, initials used to designate the parties were held sufficient. In Haskell v. Tukesbury, 92 Me. 551, 43 Atl. 500, 69 Am. St. Rep. 529 (guarantee), "Friend Geo." and "Pop Dyer" were held sufficient designations. So in Lee v. Cherry, 85 Term. 707, 4 S. W. 835, 4 Am. St. Rep. 800 (land), "Mr. Lee" was held to be sufficient description of one of the parties. In Heffron v. Artnsby, 61 Mich. 506, 28 N. W. 672, "300 cases M. B. corn" was held a sufficient description. In New England Wool Co. v. Standard Worsted Co., 165 Mass. 328, 43 N. E. 112, 52 Am. St. Rep. 516, "F. C." was held a sufficient description of a certain kind of wool. In Maurin v. Lyon, 69 Minn. 257, 72 N. W. 72, 65 Am. St. Rep. 568, a memorandum reading "St. Cloud, 7-6-96, sold Maurien Bros. Cold Springs, 5,000,1-0 Jul., Del. 99 C. Duluth" was upheld. On the other hand in North v. Mendel, 73 Ga. 400, the court refused to allow proof that "Mendel" meant the firm of M. Mendel ft Bro. This decision seems hard to reconcile with others previously cited, although it is to be observed that not only was Mendel an incomplete designation of the firm intended, but also naturally meant an individual member of the firm. The decision seems too strict. See also Frank v. Miller, 38 Md. 450; Flash v. Rossiter, 118 N. Y. App. Div. 880, 102 N. Y. S. 449; Lang-stroth v. J. C. Turner Lumber Co., 162 N. Y. App. D. 818, 148 N. Y. S. 224; Flegel v. Dowling, 54 Ore. 40, 102 Pac. 178, 135 Am. St. Rep. 812. Whether a memorandum in cipher agreed upon orally by the parties and, therefore, wholly untranslatable without parol evidence of one of them is a good memorandum has not as yet perhaps been settled.
86 Pearce v. R. T. Stone Tobacco Co., 125 Ga. 444, 54 S. E. 103; Hamlin v. Piser, 163 111. App. 51; Myers v. Mun-son, 65 Ia. 423, 21 N. W. 759; Lee v. Butler, 167 Mass. 426, 48 N. E. 52.
87 Littman v. Brittain, 100 N. Y. Misc. 255, 185 N. Y. S. 433.
memorandum of a contract of employment is not insufficient for failing to describe the nature of the employee's duties, if it provides that the existing arrangement shall "continue in force." 88 On the other hand, reference in the memorandum to an oral bargain between the parties to the transaction is not sufficient to justify proof of the terms of that bargain in order to complete deficiencies in the writing.89