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.
The intention to accept must be expressed in positive terms.1 Thus a statement by the offeree that he would think over the matter,2 or that he would like to accept,3 or a promise to "take up the matter" at a later time,4 or that he would see what he could do and give notice later,5 or that he will notify the offeror when he can perform,6 or a notice to have deeds to the property which was offered for sale, ready for delivery on payment of the purchase price, there being no promise to pay such purchase price,7 or an answer to an offer to sell land on a commission, to the effect that if the offeror can find a buyer at a certain price, "and get your commission above it, we will try to put the deal through,8 ora reply to an offer to renew an existing contract to the effect that the offeree would favorably consider an application for such renewal, "if we are satisfied with you as a customer," 9 or that he "will be glad to place this business with" the offeror if a bid made by the offeree to a third person is accepted, such bid being, in fact, rejected, and the offeree being obliged to make another bid,10 or that he will do what the offeror stipulates, "if he can," 11 are none of them equivalent to an acceptance. So where A asked for prices on five cars of corn and B replied quoting different prices on two varieties, and A ordered five cars, not indicating which variety, no contract was made.12 A proposition to distillers to form a corporation, made by an agent of such distillers, is not accepted by a letter to the effect that they "want to do so," but can not until the agent has collected the overdue accounts.13 On the other hand, an acceptance is not prevented from being positive by the fact that it contains a request for an acknowledgment of its receipt.14 The fact that an acceptance is made conditionally and is not to take effect upon the happening of a future event, does not prevent it from being a sufficient acceptance in case such future event does not happen.15
6 Lawes v. Bennett, 1 Cox. Ch. Cas. 167; Townley v. Bedwell, 14 Ves. Jr. 590; Isaacs v. Reginall (1894), 3 Ch. 506; In re Crofton, 1 Ir. Eq. Rep. 204; Kerr v. Day, 14 Pa. St. 112, 53 Am. Dec. 526; Newport Waterworks v. Sis-son, 18 R. I. 411, 28 Atl. 336.
7 Adams v. Peabody Coal Co., 230 111. 469, 82 N. E. 645; Inghram v. Chandler, 179 la. 304, L. R. A. 1917D, 713, 161 N. W. 434; Rockland-Rockport Lime Co. v. Leary, 203 N. Y. 469, L. R. A. 1916F, 352, Ann. Cas. 1913B, 62, 97 N. E. 43; Smith v. Loewenstein, 50 O. S. 346, 34 N. E. 159.
8 Rinehart & Dennis Co. v. McArthur, - Va. -, 96 S. E. 829.
1 England. Montreal Gas Co. v. Vasey (1900), A. C. 595.
California. Hicks v. Christenson, 174 Cal. 712, 164 Ac. 395.
Kentucky. Hudson v. Arnold (Ky.), 93 S. W. 42.
Nebraska. Roberts v. Cox, 91 Neb. 553, 136 N. W. 831.
Pennsylvania. Dougherty v. Briggs, 231 Pa. St. 68, 79 Atl. 924.
Rhode Island. Thurber v. Smith, 25 R. I. 60, 54 Atl. 790.
South Dakota. Babcock v. Ormsby, 18 S. D. 358, 100 N. W. 759.
Wisconsin, Beck, etc., Co. v. Cereal Mills, 109 Wis. 65, 85 N. W. 127.
2McGinnis V. Smythe, 1 Sil. (N. Y.) 23.
3 Thurber v. Smith, 25 R. I. 60, 54 Atl. 790.
4 Beck, etc., Co. v. Cereal Mills, 109 Wis. 65, 85 N. W. 127.
5 John R. Davis Lumber Co. v. Ins. Co., 94 Wis. 472, 69 N. W. 156 (in response to a request for insurance).
6 Bringham v. American Bridge Co., 39 Wash. 3, 80 Ac. 788.
7 Hicks v. Christeson, 174 Cal. 712, 164 Ac. 395.
8 Babcock v. Oimsby, 18 8. D. 858, 100 N. W. 759.
9 Montreal Gas Co. v. Vasey (1900), A. C. 595.
10 McGovern v. David Kaufman's Sons Co., 163 Fed. 76.
11 Ayers v. Hinkle, 145 Mich. 283, 108 N. W. 702.
12 Seley v. Williams, 20 Tex. Civ. App. 405, 50 S. W. 399.
13 Ellis v. Block, 187 Mass. 408, 73 N. E. 475.
14 Orr v. Doubleday, 223 N. Y. 834, 1 A. L. R. 338, 119 N. E. 552.
15 Orr v. Doubleday, 223 N. Y. 334* 1 A. L. R. 338, 119 N. E. 552.