Where there is a sale of goods, generally no property in them passes till delivery, because until then the very goods sold are not ascertained; but when, by the contract itself the vender appropriates to the vendee a specific chattel, and the latter thereby agrees to take that specific chattel, and to pay the stipulated price, the parties are then in the same situation as they would be after a delivery of goods in pursuance of a general contract. The very appropriation of the chattel is equivalent to delivery by the vender, and the assent of the vendee to take the specific chattel and to pay the price is equivalent to his accepting possession. The effect of the contract, therefore, is to vest the property in the bargainee.
The parties did not agree to the sale of the hay when it was delivered to the buyer. Instead, they agreed that the buyer would press the hay, thereby deferring agreement as to whether the buyer would purchase the hay. The buyer in fact made a written offer to purchase the hay that the seller accepted soon after receiving. After the seller received the buyer's written acceptance and after he had arranged for the hay to be transported by his own agent, the hay burned up in a barn fire. The buyer then refused to pay the purchase price and charged the seller for the pressing. The seller sued the buyer for the price and the buyer filed a counterclaim for the cost of the pressing. As for the contract, the buyer claimed that the seller did not accept the offer in a timely manner.
Was the seller entitled to payment?
The court granted judgment to the seller. The court found that the seller's acceptance of the buyer's offer was absolute and unconditional; that it was unqualified; and that because the specified goods being sold -- the hay -- was specifically identified, the effect of the contract was to vest the title to the hay in the buyer. Accordingly, the seller was entitled to judgment for the price.