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.
(3) If a time is fixed by the terms of the offer, within which acceptance can be made, the party to whom the offer is made may accept at any time within the limit thus fixed, the offer not being withdrawn, even if the delay would be held unreasonable but for the terms of the offer.1 So acceptance was held valid where A offered to C to discount B's bills without recourse after a certain date, and C answered that he would let A know before such date whether he would accept A's offer; and five days before such date C notified A that he accepted, and thereupon C discounted B's bills, though in the meantime B had failed.2 On the other hand, an offer lapses by failure to accept within the time limited,3 even if the delay would not ordinarily be deemed unreasonable had no time been limited, as long as such failure to accept is not due to the fault of the offeror.4
5 Ellis' Administrator v. Durkee, 79 Vt. 341, 65 Atl. 94.
1 Kansas. Nieschburg v. Nothern, 101 Kan. 110, 165 Ac. 857.
Massachusetts. Boston and Maine R. v. Bartlett, 57 Mass. (3 Cush.) 224.
Montana. Ide v. Leiser, 10 Mont. 5, 24 Am. St. Rep. 17, 24 Ac. 695.
North Carolina. Paddock v. Davenport, 107 N. Car. 710, 12 S. E. 464.
Pennsylvania. Arnold v. Blabon, 147 Pa. St. 372, 23 Atl. 575.
South Carolina. Jackson v. Rogers, - S. Car. - , 96 S. C. 692.
West Virginia. Watson v. Coast, 35 W. Va. 463; 14 S. E. 249; Clark v. Gordon, 35 W. Va. 735, 14 S. E. 255.
2 Sherley v. Peel, 84 Wis. 46, 54 N. W. 267. In this case A's offer was made on August 26, 1889, to discount B's bills at any time after September 15, 1889. C's answer showed that he understood that he had till September 15 to accept. A did nothing to remove this impression of C's; nor did A withdraw his offer when B became insolvent.
3 United States. Rickard v. Taylor, 122 Fed. 931.
Arkansas. Lane v. Jackson, - Ark. - , 205 S. W. 650.
Idaho. Thompson v. Burns, 15 Ida. 572, 99 Ac. 111.
Kansas. Blanchard v. Jackson, 55 Kan. 239, 37 Ac. 986.
Kentucky. Fields v. Vizard Investment Co., 168 Ky. 744, 182 S. W. 934,
Massachusetts. Home v. Niver, 168 Mass. 4, 46 N. E. 393; Kehlor Flour Mills Co. v. Linden, 230 Mass. 119, 119 N. E. 698.
Michigan. Dunn v. Dunn, 132 Mich. 461, 93 N. W. 1072.
Minnesota. Cannon River Mfgs. Association v. Rogers, 42 Minn. 123, 18 Am. St. Rep. 497, 43 *N. W. 792.
North Carolina. Hardy v. Ward, 150 N. Car. 385, 64 S. E. 171.
Oregon. Sorenson v. Smith, 65 Or. 78, 51 L. R. A. (N.S. )612, 129 Ac. 757; Yett v. Oregon Surety & Casualty Co., 88 Or. 620, L. R. A. 1918D, 1126, 172 Ac. 486.
Wyoming. Frank v. Stratford-Handcock, 13 Wyom. 37, 110 Am. St. Rep. 963, 67 L. R. A. 571, 77 Ac. 134.
4 England. Campbell v. Ry., 5 Hare 519; Doloret v. Rothschild, 1 Sim. & Stu. 590.
United States. Waterman v. Banks, 144 U. S. 394, 36 L. ed. 479; Eliason accepted on the following day.3 So if acceptance is to be by return mail, a subsequent acceptance has no validity;4 and an offer to sell, if to be accepted by telegram "on receipt" of the letter, can not be accepted after two days.5
The rule that an offer lapses by reason of failure to accept within the time limited, applies to offers for value.5 If an offer for value is to be accepted in part by doing certain work in a certain specified time, the failure of the offeree to do such work in such time causes the offer to lapse.6