AMES V. QUIMBY, 96 U. S. 324 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ames v. Quimby, 96 U.S. 324 (1877)

Ames v. Quimby

96 U.S. 324


A contract for furnishing goods at a certain price, based on the then value of gold, stipulated that such price should be increased or reduced with the rise or the fall in that value, with a proviso, however, that a rise or a fall of twenty-five percent, unless it remained sufficiently long to affect the general price of merchandise, should not change the contract price of the goods. When they were delivered, gold had undergone a reduction of more than twenty-five percent below its value at the date of the contract. Held that in a suit on the contract, the purchaser was entitled to a corresponding reduction in the contract price of the goods without showing that the decline in gold had affected the general price of merchandise.

Quimby brought an action against Ames & Sons, upon the following contract, viz.,

"N. EASTON, Jan. 2, 1865"

"Mr. Ichabod L. Quimby agrees to furnish us, and we to take from him, fifteen thousand dozen long shovel handles, to be of the best quality of timber and workmanship, for the present year, the price to be ($1.25) one dollar and twenty-five cents per dozen, basing the price on the present price of gold, $2.25."

"If the price of gold goes up or down, then the price of handles shall be advanced or reduced accordingly. But it is understood that no advance or reduction of the price of gold of twenty-five percent shall change the price of handles unless it shall remain at the advanced or reduced rate sufficiently long to affect the general price of merchandise."




Page 96 U. S. 325

Quimby, in the months of May and July, 1865, furnished the full complement of shovel handles, and four hundred and fortyeight dozen in excess of the requirements of the contract. There were delivered nine thousand eight hundred and twelve dozen May 20, 22, and 23, when gold was worth $1.31, one thousand one hundred and eightyeight dozen May 25, when gold was worth $1.36, and four thousand four hundred and fortyeight dozen July 29, when gold was worth $1.45.

The price of gold having been reduced more than twentyfive percent below $2.25, Ames & Sons claimed a corresponding reduction in their price of the handles, which would bring those delivered from May 20 to 23, inclusive, down to seventytwo and a half cents, those delivered May 25, down to seventyfive and a half cents, and those delivered July 29, down to eighty and a half cents per dozen, but the court held that to entitle them to any reduction, there must be proof that the decline in gold had at those dates affected the general price of merchandise, and, there being no such proof, judgment was given accordingly. Ames & Sons thereupon sued out this writ of error.


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