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.
Under the statute of frauds a written contract or a note or memorandum thereof is of no validity unless it is signed by the party to be charged therewith or by some one authorized by him.1 Hence a memorandum in a judgment entry showing an oral agreement of the parties in open court for the sale of land is insufficient.2 So if the statute provides that a lease not signed has only the force of a lease at will, an unsigned lease, prepared by one party but not signed by him, in insufficient.3 The form of the signature is unimportant. While the signature consists in most cases of the name of the party written by himself, it may be a valid signature without any of these elements. It may consist of an abbreviation,4 if intended as a means of authenticating the instrument. It may be printed instead of written if intended as an authentication.5 Thus a name printed in a letter head under which a contract was written has been held to be a sufficient signature.6 So is a name printed on the cover of an order book in which the memorandum is written.7 Unless, however, the party whose name is printed upon the contract writes the contract upon such printed paper or authorizes it to be written, intending to adopt the printing as his signature to such contract, the signature is not sufficient under the statute.8 The name of the vendor stamped on the memorandum, no evidence being offered to show how it came there, will not be assumed to be his signature.9 Under special circumstances a signature by mark has been held to be insufficient.10
1 Robinson v. Driver, 132 Ala. 169; 31 So. 495; Ross v. Allen, 45 Kan. 231; 10 L. R. A. 835; 25 Pac. 570; Hazard v. Day, 14 All. (Mass.) 487; 92 Am. Dec. 790; McElroy v. Seery, 61 Md. 389; 48 Am. Rep. 110; Taft v. Dimond, 16 R. I. 584; 18 Atl. 183.
2 Robinson v. Driver, 132 Ala. 169; 31 So. 495. Contra, that this is a contract of record to which the statute of frauds does not apply.
See Sec. 554.
3 Charlton v. Real Estate Co., 64 N. J. Eq. 631; 54 Atl. 444.
4 Such as initials. Salmon Falls Mfg. Co. v. Goddard, 14 How. (U. S.) 446.
5 Name printed and also written in body of instrument. Anderson v. Mfg. Co., 30 Wash. 147; 70 Pac. 247.
6Drury v. Young, 58 Md. 546; 42 Am. Rep. 343. So with a name printed on a bill-head. Schneider v. Norris, 2 M. & S. 286.
7 Jones v. Joyner, 82 L. T. 768.
8Hucklesby v. Hook (1900). W. N. 45.