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 requisites of a valid execution of a contract which by law must be in writing, are in some respects like those of ordinary written contracts and in some respects quite different. A contract which is required by law to be in writing, such as a negotiable instrument, must be signed by the party to be held liable thereon.1 Extrinsic evidence is inadmissible to show the assent to an instrument of this character of a party who has not signed his name thereto.2 In equity, however, one who has agreed to sign a certain promissory note as a maker will be held liable thereon, although he has not affixed his signature.3 One who has promised to indorse a negotiable instrument has been held liable in spite of his failure to sign his name thereto.4 This, however, seems to be contrary to the weight of authority, and in an action at law, atleast, one who has promised to indorse a negotiable instrument, can not be held liable thereon unless he signs his name.5 If any liability attaches in such a case, it is said to be a liability for breach of the contract to indorse and not a liability upon the instrument as an indorser.6 Conversely, the party who agrees to sign as an indorser and does not do so, is probably not entitled to the same diligence in making demand and in giving notice as an indorser.7
1 Hague v. French, 3 B. & P. 173; Gordon v. Lansing State Savings Bank, 133 Mich. 143, 94 N. W. 741; Vande-vere v. Ogburn, 2 N. J. L. 63.
2 Bull v. O'sullivan, L. R. 6 Q. B. 200; American Agricultural Chemical Co. v. Scrimger, 130 Md. 389, 100 Atl. 774; Symonds v. Riley, 188 Mass. 470, 74 N. E. 926; Triphonoff v. Sweeney, 65 Or. 299, 130 Pac. 979.
3 American Agricultural Chemical Co. v. Scrimger, 130 Md. 389, 100 Atl. 774.
1 England. McCall v. Taylor, 19 C. B. N. S. 301.
Alabama. May v. Miller, 27 Ala. 515; Louisville Banking Co. v. Gray, 123 Ala. 251, 82 Am. St. Rep. 120, 26 So. 205.
Kentucky. Tevis v. Young, 58 Ky. (1 Met.) 197, 71 Am. Dec. 474.
Nebraska. Lewis v. Bank, 1 Neb. (Unoff.) 177, 95 N. W. 355.
Washington. Seattle Shoe Co. v. Packard, 43 Wash. 527, 117 Am. St. Rep. 1064, 86 Pac. 845.
2 See Sec. 2312.
3 Petty v. Gacking, 97 Ark. 217, 33 L. R. A. (N.S.) 175, 133 S. W. 832.
4 Sachs v. Fuller, 69 Ark. 270, 62 S. W. 902 (defendant avoided liability because of plaintiff's failure to make demand and to give notice).
5 French v. Turner, 15 Ind. 59.
6 Birdsell Mfg. Co. v. Brown, 96 Mich. 213, 55 N. W. 801.
7 Boardman v. Steele, 13 Conn. 547.