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.
In the absence of statute, the rule has always been that one who executed an instrument, leaving blanks therein to be filled in later, and who delivered it to one who was to deliver it in turn to the adversary party, was bound by the act of the person to whom he delivered such instrument, in filling in the blanks, so as to mislead the adversary party.1 The act of the person to whom such instrument was intrusted, in filling in such blanks, was therefore not an alteration.2
This result was sometimes explained on the theory of agency, sometimes on the theory of estoppel; but in either case the result was the same, and it was not necessary to invoke the protection which the law gave to the bona fide holder of a negotiable instrument, in order to protect the party who was thus misled. The party to whom such instrument was eventually delivered was protected if he relied upon the conduct or statements of the person to whom it was delivered in the first instance, even though the party to whom it was ultimately delivered knew that it was executed in blank; 3 and in reliance upon the statements of the party to whom it was originally delivered, the party to whom it was eventually delivered might insert his own name as promisee.4
5 See Sec. 3092.
1 United States. Pittsburg Bank v. Neal, 63 U. S. (22 How.) 96, 16 L. ed. 323; Angle v. Northwestern Mutual Life Ins. Co, 92 U. S. 330, 23 L. ed. 556.
Alabama. Prim v. Hammel, 134 Ala. 652, 92 Am. St. Rep. 52, 32 So. 1006.
Indiana. Spitler v. James, 32 Ind. 202, 2 Am. Rep. 334; Gothrupt v. Williamson, 61 Ind. 599.
Kentucky. Diamond Distilleries Co. v. Gott, 137 Ky. 685, 31 L. R. A. (N. S.) 643, 126 S W. 131.
Nebraska. Humphrey Hardware Co. v Herriek, 72 Neb 878, 101 N. W. 1016, 102 N. W. 1010; Montgomery v. Dresher, 90 Neb 632, 38 L. R. A. (N. S ) 423, 134 N. W 251.
North Dakota. Merchants' National Bank v. Brastrup, - N. D -, 168 N. W. 42.
New York. Redlich v. Doll, 54 N. Y. 234, 13 Am Rep. 573.
Ohio. Fullerton v. Sturges, 4 O. S 529; Schryver v. Hawkes, 22 O. S. 308.
Pennsyivania. Johnston v. Knipe, 260 Pa. St. 504, L. R. A. 1918E, 1042, 103 Atl. 957.
South Carolina. First National Bank v. Wood, 109 S. Car. 70, L. R. A. 1918D, 1061, 95 S. E. 140.
Wisconsin. Johnston Harvester Co. v. McLean, 57 Wis. 258, 46 Am. Rep. 39, 15 N. W. 177.
2 Filling blanks which are left in an instrument is said to be "not strictly an alteration." Holland v. Hatch, 11 Ind. 497, 71 Am. Dec. 363.
3 United States. Michigan (Insurance) Bank v. Eldred, 76 U. S. (9 Wall.) 544, 19 L. ed. 763.
Delaware. Townsend v. France, 2 Houst. (Del.) 441.
Indiana. Greenhow v. Boyle, 7 Blackf. (Ind.) 56; Rich v. Starbuck, 51 Ind. 87.