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.
This rule has been modified in some respects as to negotiable instruments by the Negotiable Instruments Law, which provides: "Where the instrument is wanting in any material particular, the person in possession thereof has a prima facie authority to complete it by filling up the blanks therein. And a signature on a blank paper delivered by the person making the signature in order that the paper may be converted into a negotiable instrument, operates as a prima facie authority to fill it up as such for any amount. In order, however, that any such instrument when completed may be enforced against any person who became a party thereto prior to its completion, it must be filled up strictly in accordance with the authority given and within a reasonable time. But if any such instrument, after completion, is negotiated to a holder in due course, it is valid and effectual for all purposes in his hands, and he may enforce it as if it had been filled up strictly in accordance with the authority given and within a reasonable time."1 Under this section, a bona fide holder is protected if the blanks in the instrument were filled before the instrument was transferred to him, and if he does not know that the authority given by the maker of the instrument was exceeded when such blanks were filled.2 If the holder knows that the instrument, as originally executed by the maker, contained blanks, or if for other reasons he can not claim the protection of a bona fide holder, he can not enforce such instrument against the maker unless the blanks were filled up in strict accordance with the authority which was given.3 Under this section, a party who knew that the instrument was executed in blank can not invoke the doctrine of estoppel, to enable him to enforce an instrument which was filled up by the maker's agent in excess of his authority.4 Even if one of two joint makers has possession of the note, in which there is a blank for the name of the payee, one to whom he negotiates such note can not rely upon his statement as to his authority to fill in such blank.5
Maryland. Boyd v. McCann, 10 Md. . 118; Dunham v. Clogg, 30 Md. 284.
Missouri. Schooler v. Tilden, 71 Mo. 680.
Nebraska. Montgomery v. Dreaher, 90 Neb. 632, 38 L. R. A. (N.S.) 423, 134 N. W. 251.
New York. Hardy v. Norton, 66 Barb. (N. Y.) 627; Redlich v. Doll, 54 N. Y. 234, 13 Am. Rep. 573.
Tennessee. Seay v. Bank, 35 Tenn. (3 Sneed.) 558, 67 Am. Dec. 570.
Texas. Close v. Fields, 2 Tex. 232.
4 Delaware. Townsend v. France, 2 Houst. (Del.) 441.
Indiana. Greenhow v. Boyle, 7 Blackf. (Ind.) 56; Rich v. Starbuck, 51 Ind. 87.
Maryland. Boyd v. MeCann, 10 Md. 118; Dunham v Clogg, 30 Md. 284.
Missouri. Schooler v. Tilden, 71 Mo. 580,
Nebraska. Montgomery v. Dresner, 00 Neb. 632, 38 L. R. A. (N.S.) 423, 134 N. W. 251.
New York. Hardy v. Norton, 66 Barb. (N. Y.) 527.
Tennessee. Seay v. Bank, 35 Tenn. (3 Sneed.) 558, 67 Am. Dec. 579.
Texas. Close v. fields, 2 Tex. 232.
1 Sec. 14, Uniform Negotiable Instruments Act.
2 Diamond Distilleries Co. v. Gott, 137 Ky. 585, 31 L. R. A. (N.S.) 643, 126 S. W. 131; Merchants' National Bank v. Brastrup, - N. D. -, 168 N.