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 offer must be one which is intended of itself to create legal relations on acceptance. It must not be a communication of information as to certain facts which may interest the party to whom it is communicated, or an offer intended merely to open negotiations which will ultimately result in a contract, or intended to call forth an offer in legal form from the party to whom it is addressed.1 The commonest examples of offers meant to open negotiations and to call forth offers in the technical sense, are the advertisements, circulars and trade letters sent out by business houses. While it is possible that the offers made by such means may be in such form as to become contracts, they are often merely expressions of a willingness to negotiate.1 They are frequently declarations of intention as well as expressions of willingness to negotiate. Sometimes they merely give information as to certain facts, such as quantities, qualities, and prices. Whether they are one or all of these is immaterial at our law; the vital question being whether they are promises to incur liability or not.
12 Markillio v. Markillic, 115 Mich. 658, 74 X. W. 1117.
13 Markillie v. Markillie, 115 Mich. 658, 74 N. W. 1117.
1 England. Harvey v. Facey (H. L. E.) (1893), A. C. 552; Hussey v. Horne-Payne, L. R. 4 App. 311, 48 L. J. Ch. 846; Spencer v. Harding, L. R. 5, C. P. 561.
Ireland. Boyers v. Duke (1905), 2 Ir. R. 617.
Ontario. Johnston Brothers v. Rogers Brothers, 30 Ont. 150.
United States. Goldberg v. Daniels, 231 U. S. 218, 58 L. ed. 191.
Illinois. Cornwells v. Krengel, 41 111. 394; Maclay v. IIarvey, 90 111. 525, 32 Am. Rep. 35.
Kansas. First National Bank v. Commercial Savings Bank, 74 Kan. 606, 118 Am. St. Rep. 340,8 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1148, 87 Ac. 746.
Kentucky. Allen v. Roberts, 5 Ky. (2 Bibb.) 98.
Massachusetts. Lyman v. Robinson, 96 Mass. (14 All.) 242.
Michigan. Plank's, etc., Co. v. Burk-hard, 87 Mich. 182, 49 N. W. 562.
Missouri. Anderson v. Public Schools, 122 Mo. 61, 26 L. R. A. 707, 27 S. W. 610; State, ex rel., v. Robertson, 271 Mo. 475, 191 S. W. 989.
Nebraska. Nebraska Seed Co. v. Harsh, 98 Neb. 89, L. R. A. 1915F, 824, 152 N. W. 310.
North Carolina. Cherokee Tanning Extract Co. v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 143 N. Car. 376, 118 Am. St. Rep. 806, 55 S. E. 777.
Tennessee. Olds v. Marble Co. (Tenn. Ch. App.), 48 S. W. 333.
Vermont. Fenno v. Weston, 31 Vt. 345.
Wisconsin. Moulton v. Kershaw, 59 Wis. 316, 48 Am. Rep. 516, 18 N. W. 172.