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.
A promise by which A agrees to supply to B all the goods which B may "want" in a certain business during a certain period of time, is susceptible of two meanings: It may be used in accordance with its original meaning and signify the goods which B may need in his business;1 or it may be used in its popular meaning and it may signify such goods as B may wish to order during such period of time.2 If the word "want" is used in its meaning of "wish,"3 as where A agrees to furnish B with goods "as wanted,"4 B is free to order goods or not, as he may please, and no consideration for A's promise exists. If the term "want" is equivalent to "need" or "use," a promise by A to furnish to B all the goods which B may "want" for a certain business during a specified time, is supported by sufficient consideration,5 since B has agreed to order such goods from A and from no one else.
A different result has been reached in some cases,6 but this result is not due to the effect of the word "want" in this connection, but to a divergence of authority on the question of whether B's promise to buy whatever he may need in his business from A is a sufficient consideration if he does not fix some definite minimum. A promise by which A agreed to sell B & Company "all of said iron which they might want in their business," was held to impose no liability upon B & Company, since, under certain business conditions, they might not need any iron; and, accordingly, it was held that said contract was unenforceable.7 On this point, however, these cases must be regarded as contrary to the weight of authority.8
18 Drake v. Vorse, 52 la. 417, 3 N. W. 465.
19Drake v. Vorse, 52 la. 417, 3 N. W. 465.
20 Nelson v. Barber, 143 La. 783, 79 So. 403; Campbell v. Lambert, 36 La. Ann. 35, 51 Am. Rep. 1.
21 See ch. LXIII.
22Smith v. Preston, 82 111. App. 285.
1 Bailey v. Austrian, 19 Minn. 465.
2MoGaw Manufacturing Co. v. Felder, ll5 Ga. 408, 41 S. E. 664; Higbie v. Rust, 211 111. 333, 103 Am. St. Rep. 204, 71 N. E. 1010.
3McCaw Manufacturing Co. v. Fel-der, 115 Ga. 408, 41 S. E. 664; Higbie v. Rust. 211 111. 333, 103 Am. St. Rep. 204, 71 N. E. 1010.
4McCaw Manufacturing Co. v. Fel-der, 115 Ga. 408, 41 S. E. 664.
5 See Sec. 580.
6 Bailey v. Austrian, 19 Minn. 465.
Certain of the words which are used in contracts of this sort are ambiguous, or have a technical meaning differing from the popular meaning. The word "require" is sometimes used in the sense of "use" or "need," and sometimes in the sense of "wish to order." If the word "require" is used in the sense of "need" or "use," a promise to furnish such goods as the adversary party may require is a promise supported by sufficient consideration.9