Oswald v. Allen
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
417 F.2d 43 (1969)
Dr. Oswald (plaintiff) was a coin collector from Switzerland who spoke practically no English. He was interested in buying Allen’s (defendant) collection of Swiss coins. Oswald traveled to the United States and the two parties met at a bank where the coins were stored in two different collections—the Swiss Coin Collection and the Rarity Coin Collection. Oswald was shown both collections, but did not realize they were two separate collections. The price was negotiated through an interpreter. During negotiations, no one realized that that there was an ambiguity with using the phrases “Swiss coins” and “Swiss Coin Collection.” Oswald wrote a letter to Allen confirming the purchase of “all your Swiss coins” and arranging delivery. Allen wrote back regarding the delivery arrangements only. Allen later wrote that she had miscalculated the number of coins to be sold and permitted Oswald to re-examine them. Oswald sent a letter in response stating his understanding of the agreement and asked Allen to sign it as a formality only. Allen then informed Oswald that she would not sell the coins because her children did not want her to do so. Oswald filed suit. The trial court found that Oswald thought he was buying all “Swiss coins” and Allen thought she was selling the “Swiss Coin Collection.” The trial court held that a contract had not been formed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Moore, C.J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 147,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,300 briefs, keyed to 182 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.