Generations of law students have been taught the classic contract case of Fisher v Bell  1 QB 394. It raises the question of whether displaying an item for sale in a shop window is an offer to enter into a binding contract or merely an ‘invitation to treat’, i.e. an invitation to start discussions that might lead to an offer.
The items in question where flick knives in the window of Bell’s Music Shop, 15-16 The Arcade, Broadmead, Bristol.
The Arcade still seems to be there, though now integrated into a more modern shopping precinct. The first wave of enthusiasm for rock and roll had passed by 1959 when a police officer spotted the flick knives in the music shop window, but rockers were still perceived as dangerous and dirty outsiders. It is easy to imagine the shop as a magnet for the disaffected youth of Bristol, and the shop owner’s interest in supplying all of their cultural needs, even beyond guitar strings and drum sticks. This might also explain why the police officer was so interested in the shop display.
We would love to receive blog posts on any aspect of Fisher v Bell, on the rather lovely subject of ‘invitations to treat’, on the site in Bristol, on attitudes to rockers in the late 50s, etc, etc.comments powered by Disqus