This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
At an auction sale a bid may be withdrawn at any time before it is accepted.1 The party offering the property for sale may withdraw it at any time before a bid has been accepted.2 A public officer,3 such as a commissioner,4 or an executor,5 has the same right to withdraw an offer before a bid is accepted, unless the authority under which he sells gives him no discretion. So the auctioneer may withdraw all articles from sale without any liability to prospective bidders.6 In the United States an agreement in advance, without valuable consideration, that bids should not be withdrawn, does not destroy the right to withdraw bids.7 In England it has been held that under an announcement of a sale "without reserve," the highest bid must be accepted.8
It has been said in an obiter that a provision in an offer, "This order is not subject to be countermanded by us," can not be avoided by revoking such offer,9 since it would violate the parol evidence rule10 if the offeror could show that he revoked the offer. This suggestion is probably not intended to be taken seriously. The parol evidence rule does not preclude evidence of breach.11 If such offer were irrevocable for that reason, all written offers would be irrevocable; and it would be impossible on the same principle, to show a breach of a written contract.
6 Cummins v. Beavers, 103 Va. 230, 106 Am. St. Rep. 881, 48 S. E. 801.
1 England. Payne v. Cave, 3 T. R. 148.
California. Hibernia Savings & Loan Society v. Behnke, 121 Cal. 339, 53 Ac. 812.
Kentucky. Grotenkemper v. Achter-meyer, 74 Ky. (11 Bush) 222.
Miasonri. Dunham v. Hartman, 153 Mo. 625, 77 Am. St. Rep. 741, 55 S. W. 233.
Pennsylvania. Fisher v. Seltzer, 23 Pa. St. 308, 62 Am. Dec. 335.
2 Demerara Turf Club v. Wight (1918), A. C. 605; Scales v. Chambers, 113 Ga. 920, 39 S. E. 396; Corryolles v. Mossy, 2 La. 504.
3 Blossom v. R. R., 70 U. S. (3 Wall) 196, 18 L. ed. 43.
4 Miller v. Law, 10 Rich. Eq. (S. C.) 320, 73 Am. Dec. 92.
5 Tillman v. Dunman, 114 Ga. 406, 88 Am. St. Rep. 28, 57 L. R. A. 784, 40 S. E. 244.
6 Harris v. Nickerson, L. R. 8 Q. B. 286.
7 Fisher v. Seltzer, 23 Pa. St. 308, 62 Am. Dec. 335.
8 Johnston v. Boyes (1899), 2 Ch. 73; Warlow v. Harrison, 1 E. & E. 295; Mansfield v. Hodgdon, 147 Mass. 304, 17 N. E. 544.
9 Burwell v. Chapman, 59 S. Car. 581, 38 S. E. 222.
10 See ch. LXIX.
11 See ch. LXIX.