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 same principles which apply to offers made in jest apply also to declarations or offers which are made under great mental excitement or anger, which are not really intended by the offeror, and which are known to the offeree not to be intended as serious offers.1 A, whose son had been murdered, declared in great distress that he would give two hundred dollars to anyone who would arrest the criminal. One of those present said that he did not want A's money; and A replied that he did not mean it for him. It was held that such statement was to be regarded as a strong expression of feeling and not as an offer; and that if a third person, on hearing of such statement, arrested the criminal, he could not recover.2 A's harness, which was worth about fifteen dollars, had been stolen, and A in rage declared that he would give one hundred dollars to any person who could find the thief, and one hundred dollars to the lawyer who would prosecute him. It was held that since such declarations were made by A while in a state of mental excitement and anger, they could not be regarded as serious offers.3