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 promise or order must be for a sum certain. If the amount to be paid can not be determined from the face of the contract itself the contract is not negotiable.1 This rule is not affected by the Negotiable Instruments Law.2 A note expressing the amount in figures in one corner, the amount being omitted in the body of the note, is for a sum certain.3 If the body of the instrument contains one number in figures and a smaller number written by words, extrinsic evidence is not admissible at law to show that the larger number was intended.4 If a figure indicating interest is written above a different typewritten figure also indicating interest, and a ring is made around the latter with a pen, the figure written in by hand controls, and the contract is not uncertain,5 since, even under a statute providing that written provisions prevail over printed provisions, the typewritten figures are to be treated as if they were printed.6 A note for "eight hundred and sixty-eight," the word dollars being omitted, is made certain by the figures $868.7 A promise to pay whatever amount might be collected,8 or to pay a certain sum of money and whatever premiums might be due upon a certain policy,9 or a promise to pay a "bill of two huundred sixty-five 50-100 dollars,10 are none of them for a sum certain. The fact that the amount is left blank does not render the instrument non-negotiable if authority is given to fill up such blank and such authority is exercised in a proper way.11
Ohio. Citizens' National Bank v. Brown, 45 O. S. 30, 4 Am. St. Rep. 526, 11 N. E. 799.
Contra, Johnson v. Henderson, 76 N. Car. 227; Texas, etc. Co. v. Carroll, 63 Tex. 48.
10 White v. Richmond, 16 Ohio 5. So Ehle v. Bank, 24 N. Y. 548.
Contra, Chambers v. George, 5 Litt (Ky.) 335.
11 Millikan v. Security Trust Co., - Ind. - , 118 N. E. 568; Howe v. Hartness, 11 O. S. 449, 78 Am. Dec. 312.
12 Irvine v. Lowry, 39 U. S. (14 Pet.) 293, 10 L. ed. 462; Shamokin Bank v. Street, 16 O. S. 1.
13 Kirkpatrick v. McCullough, 22 Tenn. (3 Humph.) 171, 39 Am. Dec. 158.
Contra, if payable in "current Ohio bank-notes." Swetland v. Creigh, 15 Ohio 118.
14 Canada currency. Black v. Ward, 27 Mich. 191, 15 Am. Rep. 162. Mexican dollars, Hogue v. Williamson, 85 Tex. 553, 34 Am. St. Rep. 823, 20 L R. A. 481, 22 S. W. 580.
Contra, Canada money. Thompson v. Sloan, 23 Wend. (N. Y.) 71, 35 Am. Dec. 546.
15 Pratt v. Higginson, 230 Mass. 256, 1 A. L. R. 714. 119 N. E. 661.
16 Smith v. Myers, 207 111. 126, 69 N. E. 858; Cornish v. Woolverton, 32 Mont. 456, 108 Am. St. Rep. 598, 81 Pac. 4; Thorp v. Mindeman, 123 Wis. 149, 107 Am. St. Rep. 1003, 68 L. R. A 146, 101 N. W. 417. This rule has been adopted by the Negotiable Instruments Law. Kimpton v. Studebaker Bros. Co., 14 Ida. 552, 125 Am. St. Rep. 185, 14 Am. & Eng. Ann. Cas. 1126, 94 Pac. 1039; Bright v. Offield, 81 Wash. 442, 143 Par. 159.
1 Payne v. Commercial National Bank, 177 Cal. 68, L. R. A. 1918C, 328, 169 Pac. 1007; Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. v. McCoy & Spivey Bros., 32 Okla. 277, 40 L. R. A. (N.S.) 177, 122 Pac. 125; Chestnut v. Chestnut, 104 Va. 539. 2 L. R. A. (N.S.) 879, 52 S. E. 348; Coolidge v. Saltmarsh, 96 Wash. 541, 165 Pac. 508.
"An instrument for a specified sum of money, and also for the payment of something else the value of which is not ascertainable, but depends upon extrinsic evidence, is not a note." Lowe v. Bliss, 24 111. 168, 170, 76 Am. Dec. 742.
2 First National Bank v. Watson, 56 Okla. 495, 155 Pac. 1152.