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The Art of Preparing the Landman Abstract (A Practical Guide)

Robert D. Hoehn, Mineral Title Examination (2007)

Attorneys render opinions on title following examination of pertinent records related to the lands that are to be covered by the opinion. Attorneys examine title directly by performing a “standup” examination of records in the county clerk's office1 or appropriate federal or state land office or by working from an abstract. “An abstract is a compilation of all public records pertaining to the land under search: the sifting of records has been done by the abstracter, the pieces of the puzzle have been found and only their assembly remains.”2

Traditionally, abstracts were prepared for a fee by professional abstracters, usually licensed or regulated by the state. The “horse blanket” abstract consisted of handwritten entries summarizing the instrument made by the abstracter on long strips of paper.3 “Bobtailed” abstracts were another form of early abstract. These abstracts were bound compilations of instruments on small sheets of paper, sometimes handwritten and sometimes typed, often a combination of both in the same volume.4 These instruments regularly included exact quotes of at least the pertinent portions of the instrument such as mineral reservations.

An improved version of the early bobtailed abstracts, sometimes called “skeleton” abstracts, consisted of summaries of the pertinent portions of instruments rather than a word-for-word compilation of the entire