Saturday, April 21, 2012

Forgery and Fraud in Numismatics

“How the West was Faked” is the title of a series of websites (now here) created by John Kleeberg and Theodore V. Buttrey Jr. Broadly, they condemn the forgeries and frauds committed by John J. Ford (1924-2005) and Paul G. Franklin (1919-2000) in the 1950s and 1960s, and extended into our time. Kleeberg and Buttrey are careful; and the narrative is compelling. What follows here is my own summary based on my own experiences touching on that story.

John J. Ford
John J. Ford was respected within the numismatic community by just about everyone -- except Eric P. Newman.  Ford started at New York City coin shops as a youngster. After World War II and through the 1960s, Ford worked at New Netherlands and is cited as a founding member of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society at the ANA convention at Cincinnati in 1980.  Eric P. Newman served as president of the American Numismatic Society. He is the author and co-author of several important books and many significant papers, including of Early Paper Money of America, the standard reference on fiat currency of the American Revolution. Newman earned a BS at MIT in 1932 and a JD at Washington University in 1935. John J. Ford was self-educated. Newman is a scholar. Ford was a salesman. Newman long suspected Ford of dishonesty and is widely accepted as the engine behind occasional unsuccessful efforts to unmask and defrock Ford.

The Ford-Newman controversy carried over into the 21st century. Their seconds were Michael J. Hodder for Ford and Ted Buttrey for Newman.  (Hodder is an expert in U.S. Colonial numismatics. His degrees include masters from both the City College of New York and New York University and a Candidate in Philosophy from Berkeley.  Buttrey's doctorate is from Princeton; he was chair of the Classics department at the University of Michigan.)  Hodder and Buttrey engaged in a “Great Debate” over Fake Western Assay Bars at the 1999 ANA convention in Chicago. Nothing was settled there; and Ford launched a $6 million lawsuit against Buttrey for libel.  (I filed an amicus brief with the court which was not accepted.) Meanwhile, difficult and troubled finances at the American Numismatic Society forced the release of several curators, Kleeberg among them. He was then free to join Buttrey in pursuit of Ford. Their work caused the Smithsonian to close its exhibit of American numismatics because some of their artifacts were questioned and ultimately condemned as fakes.

For twenty years, Paul Franklin made fake western assay bars which John J. Ford sold to collectors.  The pair researched old newspapers, found the names of assayers, and created punches and logotypes to match the art of the advertisements. Franklin made the bars; Ford invented the stories behind them. Then, Henry Clifford decided that he wanted to own them all and began buying them from other collectors as well as from Ford. When Clifford’s estate went on the market, all these bars (and some private coins) came together in one place at one time. The Henry H. Clifford Collection: Coins of the West was the sylloge for a public auction by Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Inc., March 18-20, 1982. (Known as the Dean of American Numismatics, Q. David Bowers is the author of very many books and has served as president of the ANA.)  When the Clifford Catalog was published the glaring inconsistencies were impossible to ignore – except by those who never see the elephant in the room.  And American numismatics is house full of elephants.
Eagle Mining Co.
Lot 215 Henry Clifford Sale

To celebrate the Centennial of Independence in 1876, numismatist Montroville W. Dickeson created replicas of colonial coins. His fantasies remain hot items today. In 1836, President Andrew Jackson sent a Navy diplomatic mission around the world to secure ports of convenience for American ships. Among the many gifts for kings and sultans were proof sets of American coins. To complete the sets, the Mint struck a few silver dollars with unused dies from 1804, creating the eight 1804 Dollars of 1834-35. Beginning in 1859, numismatists with friends at the Mint had their own 1804 Dollars made. All of these fantasies are highly prized today. Over the holidays 1912-1913, a clerk at the Mint, Samuel W. Brown, struck off five 1913 Liberty Nickels. A few years later, he advertised that he would buy any 1913 Liberty Nickels. Since no one knew that any  existed, this drew interest. Then, he offered his for sale. These fakes attract record-setting prices at any auction. Today, despite legendary (or perhaps mythical) security instant rarities still leave the US Mint, including Sacagawea dollars “muled” with Washington quarters. (See Coin World July 18, 2011 here.) This is an historical problem. In the 1890s, the U.S. Secret Service attempted to confiscate many pattern strikes that had disappeared from the Mint, but numismatists have friends and money and the Secret Service backed off. On the other side of the ledger, Franklin D Roosevelt's first Secretary of the Treasury was numismatist Howland D. Wood. Roosevelt's Presidential Order requiring banks and citizens to deposit their gold with the Treasury explicitly did not apply to coin collectors (see here).

“The Red Book” (A Guide Book of United States Coins by R. S. Yeoman), has been issued annually since 1947. It is arguably the single basic book on US numismatics owned by any and every serious hobbyist or collector. Material later condemned was catalogued in The Red Book for many years. In 1965 under “Private and Territorial Gold” the Red Book inventoried a “Blake and Agnell” bar and coin.  The bar was perhaps the easiest of all to question as the assayer’s name was really Agrell.  But the 1913 catalog by Edgar H. Adams, Private Gold Coinage of California, (New York: American Numismatic Society) carried the typographical error, the r for n, (an easy blunder in the days of lead and ink) and the forgers repeated it.  As late as 1981, the Red Book carried bars by F. D. Kohler, some of which also have been condemned (though most proved genuine).

I believe that cause of this apparent waffling - an unwillingness to condemn the entire body of putative offerings - is the close working relationship between Kenneth Bressett and Eric P. Newman.  Newman was president of the ANS; and Bressett served as an ANA president.  The two co-authored, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar (Whitman, 1962). Long wary of Ford, Newman would have helped Bressett clean the spurious material from Yeoman’s venerable handbook when Whitman turned to Bressett to continue the annual book. I have never met Eric P. Newman, but I have met Ken Bressett and I trust him implicitly to hold to the highest ethical standards.  

Be all that as it may, the fakes in the Clifford Collection survived for 20 years after publication of the catalogue. 

In April 1999 I joined Coin World as a senior staff writer and their international editor just at the Great Debate was developing. The co-worker I was closest to was Stuart Segan, their “Trends” (pricing) editor. Stuart’s degree is in physics from Berkeley. He encouraged me to approach the problem like a scientist. We examined the Clifford Catalog, and argued out between ourselves the internal inconsistencies in the artifacts. To be fair, I only spoke to John J. Ford on the telephone while working for Coin World. He told me that if I could not tell 19th century die work from 18th, I did not deserve my chair as an editor.  I took his advice to heart and improved my knowledge.  But clearly, Ford was a bully which is corroborated by common knowledge that he called collectors "boobs."

Then the Brother Jonathan and the .S.S. Central America were salvaged. Those ships carried gold coins and bars from the California gold rush. The Central America was called “the ship of gold;” and its loss is cited as a contributing factor in the Panic of 1857.  Generally, none of the recovered remains from those wrecks match the work of Paul Franklin sold by John J. Ford. (See Treasures from the S.S. Central America: Glories of the California Gold Rush, June 20-21, 2000, by Sotheby’s.)

When John J. Ford sold his lifetime numismatic collection through Stack’s numismatic auction firm of New York City the catalogs ran 21 volumes. He did know a bargain; and he pursued items which others passed over, such as Indian Peace Medals. He owned a world class library. The final sale and volume of the sylloge covers Western Assay Bars.  Many pieces that were anticipated did not appear.  (See Kleeberg in The E-sylum October 14, 2007 here. The E-sylum is the weekly email news from the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, whose journal is The Asylum.) Among the historical remains not offered was a bar allegedly made for Wells Fargo by Wass Molitor in 1854 and overstruck in 1864 with a U.S. Revenue stamp. The bar is illustrated in Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States by Donald H. Kagin, Ph.D. (Kagin’s doctorate is in numismatics. His website is here. The Holabird-Kagin website of Americana is here

William Sheldon: Psychologist, Numismatist, Thief
Murray Rothbard: Fraud or Faker?
Numismatics: History as Market
Industrial Medals as the Currency of Fame

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Active Defense and Passive Aggression, Part 2.

“Handguns are instruments for killing people - they are not carried for hunting animals - and you have no right to kill people.” Ayn Rand at Ford Hall Forum, October 21, 1973.

It is not so much that legislation solves problems, but rather that the formal expression of social norms elevates them above being mere folkways. Homicide was not against the law in archaic Athens until the reforms of Drakon (c. 650 BCE). Even today, blood feud is the time-honored method of rebalancing injustice; and it continues in traditional societies. (See Vengeance is Mine: Justice Albanian Style by Fatos Tarifa; Chapel Hill: Globic Press, 2008.) In “Politics as a Profession” (1918) Max Weber enunciated the principle we accept today that the state has a monopoly on physical force.  That monopoly includes the right to assign proxy to others.  Thus, even in a state that forbids capital punishment, the police on the street can take a life. We give to the patrol officer the power of prosecutor, jury, judge, and executioner. I question that.
The Baker Batshield has your back
            Faced with the unequivocal weaponry of the state, criminals also arm themselves. For 150 years, the London Metropolitan Police were unarmed, as were the criminals. The conflict with the IRA and the rise of foreign gangs unsocialized to British folkways changed that. Now, when they knock to enter before bashing down the door, the bobbies announce themselves “Armed police!”  That only begs the question.  It is also true that those who would commit violence need no special excuse. Murder will not go away if the police are disarmed.
Moreover, the unarmed police will face armed perpetrators. As violence only begets violence, better solutions must be found to minimizing, ameliorating, and negating armed conflict.
            We organize our police as military.  Far deeper and far beyond the uniforms – though there is that – is the institutional structure, which reinforces the perception among the police themselves that they are an occupying army. 

A deployable net
            Waiting for a former instructor at my community college alma mater, I sat in on a class in “Police and the Community.” It was being taught by a police sergeant.  She said that there are good people and perpetrators; and the job of the police is to protect the community from the bad guys. . It was not my class, so I did not point out that the so-called perpetrators are in and of the community. As Newt Gingrich once reminded a Republican dinner, most Americans see the posted speed limit as a benchmark of opportunity. In that context, we segregate people in special clothing to commit acts, which if carried out by others, would be crimes. So, when a police officer accidentally kills the wrong fleeing felon, there is no restoration. The officer does not apologize; and the state which empowered the homicide admits no harm and pays no compensation.

A deployable net
The denial of responsibility is the first of five “Techniques of Neutralization” by which criminals excuse and justify their acts. (See “Techniques of Neutralization: a theory of delinquency,” Sykes, Gresham M. and David Matza, American Sociological Review, 22, 664-673.) These statements also apply to the state, and therefore to the police. (And, they also were heard from the civil rights movement and the anti-war protesters of the 50s and 60s, just as they come from the Occupiers today, all of whom engage in civil disobedience.)
  1. Denial of responsibility (The state responds to crime caused by perpetrators. You brought this on yourself.)
  2. Denial of injury (You deserve the consequences. Prison will be good for you.)
  3. Denial of the victim (Perps are not good people. If he was not guilty, he would not have fled.)
  4. Condemnation of the condemners (Do-gooders are soft on crime. Courts are too lenient.)
  5. Appeal to higher loyalties (Thin blue line and new centurions. In God we trust. E pluribus unum.)
Ayn Rand famously said that no political change can come without a shift in the dominant philosophical foundations of our culture and society. Gun control laws can be no more effect than drug control laws, and for the same reasons. The deeper needs for guns and drugs are found within individuals with unworkable, irrational personal philosophies – and often a complete lack of any formally defined credo.
            It is not necessary that everyone change. The golden age of Greece, the Islamic Golden Age, the European Renaissance, the Three Kingdoms and later the Southern Sung of China, in each case, most people changed nothing of themselves, though they accepted the new social contexts around them.
           In our time, perhaps the greatest potential for a better future comes not from any single philosophy, but from the plethora of them. Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies was a plea for tolerance based on the admission of ignorance. No one has a monopoly on truth. Ironically, the large number of competing owners of absolute truth has created for us a complex matrix of beliefs, assertions, claims, philosophies, and religions. As long as none can dominate, all can flourish.

Bulletproof fashions from Miguel Caballero

Survival of the Fitted

The rise of bulletproof couture.

by David Owen The New Yorker, September 26, 2011

by Jim Wyss The Miami Herald
Q: What is your opinion of gun control laws?
A: I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it is not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, non-criminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It is not an important issue, unless you're ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn't very practical. [Ford Hall Forum, 1971]

Q: What's your attitude toward gun control?

A: It is a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people -- they are not carried for hunting animals -- and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don't know how the issue is going to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim. [Ford Hall Forum, 1973]
From Ayn Rand Answers: the Best of Her Q&A, edited by Robert Mayhew © 2005 by The Estate of Ayn Rand.
“FBI agents alerted police about their interest in late October, shortly after the Travis County medical examiner's office released a report saying that 20-year-old Byron Carter Jr. had been shot four times, including once in the head.
            A teenager who drove a car toward two police officers on East Eighth late May, leading to the fatal shooting of his passenger by one of the officers, will not face criminal charges, the Travis County District Attorney's office said Thursday.  A grand jury completed its review of the incident and declined to indict the teen, officials said. The teen was not named in court documents because he is a juvenile. Police have said he is 16 years old.”

Holding back tears, San Angelo police Sgt. Matt Baldwin recounted stories about the kind of police officer his friend Jaime Padron was. 

The time Padron ran into a burning house with his partner to save two children trapped inside. The time Padron entered a business when a gunman was inside. The time he and Padron were outnumbered in a fight with several suspects, but persevered and made the arrest. 

"That was Jaime the cop," Baldwin said Friday at Padron's funeral Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church — a service bursting at the seams with Padron's fellow officers from Austin and San Angelo and with family, friends and well-wishers. "He loved being a cop. He was good at it." ... much has been written and said about "Jaime the cop" in the week since he was fatally shot at a North Austin Wal-Mart ... Padron was shot after confronting a shoplifting suspect about 2:30 a.m. April 6. The suspect in the shooting, Brandon Montgomery Daniel, remains jailed on a charge of capital murder.”
Active Defense and Passive Aggression, Part 1.
Shifting the Paradigm of Private Security
Private Security in the 21st Century
Physical Security for Data Centers (Slideshare View and Download)

Active Defense and Passive Aggression, Part 1

Intentional cruelty is of particular concern because it is an indication of psychological distress and may be a sign that an individual has already experienced violence or may be predisposed to committing acts of violence. - San Bernadino County California link here

The roots of violence are deep. Our front teeth are incisors. We kill to survive. (Yes, carrots have feelings, too.) But there is a difference between that and cruelty. Among hunter/gatherers it is common that men kill each other, usually over women, occasionally over status; and they kill women, also. That said, it remains that hunters have propitiating rituals. They thank their prey, or beg forgiveness, or sometimes blame the other tribe. We do none of that when we kill an herbivore from a blind 3 meters up and 100 meters away. So, when a police officer accidentally kills the wrong fleeing felon, there is no restoration. The officer does not apologize; and the state which empowered the homicide admits no harm and pays no compensation.

The Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity, and derivative philosophies such as Objectivism hold that only humans have souls (or free will or reason). Thus, what is done to an animal is less important.
However, we know that causal links tie violence against animals to predation upon family, neighbors, and strangers. Cruelty to pets correlates to domestic violence. Children who abuse animals will later victimize people.
  • “Bringing Peace Home: A Feminist Philosophical Perspective on the Abuse of Women, Children, and Pet Animals,” Carol J. Adams, Hypatia, Vol. 9, No. 2, Feminism and Peace (Spring, 1994), pp. 63-84
  • "Dogs'/Bodies, Women's Bodies: Wives As Pets In Mid-Nineteenth-Century Narratives Of Domestic Violence,” Lisa Surridge, Victorian Review, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Summer 1994), pp. 1-34.
  • “Exploring the Link between Corporal Punishment and Children's Cruelty to Animals,” Clifton P. Flynn, Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Nov., 1999), pp. 971-981
  • “Why Family Professionals Can No Longer Ignore Violence toward Animals,” Clifton P. Flynn, Family Relations, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 87-95
  • “Contesting Tradition: The Deep Play and Protest of Pigeon Shoots,” Simon J. Bronner, The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 118, No. 470 (Autumn, 2005), pp. 409-452.
Do the police need to be armed? Should they be empowered to commit homicide? Does anyone need a gun … of any caliber? To me, if you need to put meat on the table, and if you live in the woods, then hunting deer with a rifle makes sense. But if you are doing it to validate your masculinity, then get a knife, run the buck down, and face him like a man. And apologize to him.
In North America an address of pardon or apology to the bear is reported for the following peoples: Montagnais-Naskapi, Malecite, St. Francis Abenaki, Eastern Cree, Northern Saulteaux, Tate de Boule, Plains Ojibway, Ottawa, Menomini, Sauk, Fox, Ojibway,. The Tlingit and possibly the Winnebago may also be mentioned in this connection. … It seems worth while to record the statement of Mr. Frank Gallenne of Seven Islands, P. Q., who has been a resident there for forty years and speaks one of the Naskapi dialects. He told me that he had been with the Indians when they hunted bear and that on more than one occasion they asked the animal's pardon before killing it. He cited it as one of the most curious of their superstitions. Comeau (p. 85) writes that "when caught in a steel trap or seen at a distance, he (the bear) is spoken to and asked that vengeance be not taken for his death."

The hunter "tells a bear before he kills it that he is sorry that he is in need of food and has to kill it."… "I killed you because I need your skin for my coat, and your flesh so that I can eat, because I have nothing to live on." … The bear hunter explains that nothing but hunger drove him to kill it and "begs the animal not to be offended," nor "permit the spirits of other bears to be angry." … The hunter approaches the lair and says, "I am thankful that I found you and sorry that I am obliged to kill you," promising the spirit of the beast a sacrifice of maple sugar or berries. … "When they kill a bear they make feast of its own flesh, they talk to it, they harangue it, they say, 'Do not leave an evil thought against us because we have killed thee. Thou hast intelligence, thou seest that our children are suffering from hunger. They love thee and wish thee to enter into their bodies. Is it not a glorious thing for thee to be eaten by the children of captains'." … The animal is told that the "killing was accidental or else that he must forgive him this one offense for his poor family is starving." … Although a Bear (sib) man may kill a bear, he must first address himself to it and apologize for depriving it of life.... "Should an Indian of the Bear totem, or one whose adopted guardian is represented by the bear, desire to go hunting and meet with that animal, due apology would be paid to it before destroying it." … In Asia we may refer to the Kamchadal, Yukaghir, Ostyak (Ugrian). … Among the Ainu, a speech of this type is an important feature of the bear festival." --  “Bear Ceremonialism in the Northern Hemisphere,” Irving Hallowell, American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1926), pp. 1-175.
Active Defense and Passive Aggression, Part 2.
Shifting the Paradigm of Private Security
Minimizing the Likelihood of Bad Cops
Laissez Faire Criminology
Integrating Criminologies

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Murray Rothbard: Fraud or Faker?

I fell for Rothbard in 1971 and ’72. I believed everything he wrote and cheered with those who praised him. Then, in 2005, I had an opportunity to present a “Littleton Lecture” paper of my choosing at a convention of the American Numismatic Association. I never completed the paper, but I learned to regard Murray N. Rothbard as a faker who substituted radical political rants for the data from history.

(This is based on comments posted to the Organizations and Markets blog on the occasion of Murray N. Rothbard’s birthdate anniversary.)
  • A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II by Murray N. Rothbard, Von Mises Institute, 2002.  Pages 119-122 on the Suffolk System.  Rothbard began the section with this: “But Dr. George Tivoli, whose excellent monograph, The Suffolk System, we rely on in this study …” Where does Tivoli's work end?  On page 120 is a footnote 102 to John Jay Knox's A History of Banking in the United States in support of a quote.   Then follows more narrative.  Is this a continued paraphrasing of Tivoli?  Despite the in-line pointer, nowhere did Rothbard provide the publication citation for that monograph by George Tivoli about the Suffolk system.
As for the Suffolk Bank story, I was living in Ann Arbor; and the U of M library did not have the Suffolk booklet by Tivoli.  But MSU did; and I had an MSU card, so I drove up to East Lansing.  Their microfilm of a photostat was unusable when printed.  The librarians helped me find the Adam Smith Institute and they provided me with a PDF.  (Available now to everyone.The booklet had a publication page, giving place and date of printing.  Copies were just hard to find.  Rothbard scissored and pasted and hid the resource.  

The "Suffolk System" was a market-based clearing house in the 1830s, 40s and 50s.  It operated out of Boston to gather the notes of rural banks and take them back to their issuers in exchange for the hard money they promised.  It worked well and then closed when conditions changed and competition came in. Also, after several years, some men took advantage of conflicts of interest in the operation. But it was not killed by the U.S. Treasury. Rothbard told the story he wanted to find in Tivoli. 
  • What Has Government Done to Our Money?, 2nd ed. (Santa Ana: Rampart College, 1974.) Section 7, pages 8-10, ending with footnote 9.  Rothabard said nothing about the instances actual private gold coins issued by Bechtlers, Templeton Reid or many others, or of private copper such as Higley's "Granby tokens", or many other private coins throughout American history, including “Hard Times” and Civil War issues (Patriotics and Store Cards).  He said nothing about "Conder" tokens (British Provincials) that circulated widely in the UK in the 1790s.
Struck in $5, $10, and $20
for 1850 and 1851
In What Has Government Done to Our Money?, Rothbard wrote: “Privately-minted gold coins circulated in California as late as 1848.” (page 10 closing Section 7).  

Although Rothbard claimed that private Gold was used "until" 1848, in fact, California's private gold began in 1848.  The coins of Wass-Molitor & Co. (1852-1855), Kellogg & Co. (1854-1855), Schultz & Co. (1851), and many other issues were widely known to American numismatists.  The annual price guides of Wayte Raymond, Max Mehl, the Whitman "Red Book" and many other sources listed those.  They also told of Mormon Gold (1849-1860).  Private gold had a 20-year run in North Carolina, 1831-1852.  Even so, the actual use of fractional dollar gold coins in California in 1848-1849 is still much debated. 

Private money in both coins and notes are easy to find in American history.  Common publications from any book store or library would have informed any researcher seeking to understand the substantive topic.  Rothbard worked in New York City, where the American Numismatic Society has had its offices since 1858.  Rothbard's writing does not reflect the general knowledge of academic numismatists of his own time and place.  

Rothbard ignored the rich, varied, and informative history of the Wildcat Era of banking between 1811 and 1857, focusing only on the Federal government as the bogeyman.  That Wildcat era provides facts about successful private banks, failed state government banks, as well as failed private banks. Government interfered in the money, often by requiring that banks have hard money on hand to back their paper. Sometimes the gold and silver ran just ahead of the auditors.

Find this and others on the
PCGS "Coin Facts" Site.
Rothbard's narrative is that the first coins were gold and that they were minted by private individuals.  In truth, the first coins were electrum, not gold.  They were, indeed, most likely struck by private individuals, if by that we understand that in a Greek democracy, all citizens were the government.  The likely history is that coinage may have been invented by potential "tyrants" i.e., self-made men on the rise.  That said, the first gold coins were unarguably the issues of king Croesus (Kroisos) of Lydia. About that, there is no doubt. After that, private coinage all but ceased - depending on how we view the issues of generals in the field and certain ad hoc issues such as the silver quinari of Cato the Younger.  It was not that "kings" took over a private trade, but that every city government in the ancient world struck its own coins.  Many were known far and wide for their reliable weight. Sometimes cities with common trade struck coins of the same sizes with their own preferred images. 

It was an open market in money and remained so for thousands of  years. Rothbard claimed that kings minted coins as a forced monopoly. Indeed, they did.  So did perhaps a thousand others, many, admittedly with royal charters; but many more bishops, counts, councils and others did so on their own.  Kings held no monopolies until much later, with the rise of the nation states, France, Spain, and England, but even then only tenuously.

Again, relying on my faith in Rothbard, I was brought up short in an online discussion via Usenet's rec.collecting.coins by Francois Velde, a Federal Reserve economist who authored and co-authored books on medieval economics.  While I disagree with Velde's theories, I have to accept his facts, which are available to anyone who cares to do the research -- which I did for an article, "Champagne: the Athens of the Middle Ages" for The Celator – and which Rothbard apparently did not.

Rothbard completely ignored the error in “Gresham's Conjecture the evidence of the silver half dime and nickel 5-cent circulating in parallel, as did the nickel 3-cent and silver 3-cent, as well as paper promises and the gold and silver coins behind those promises.
  •  A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II, on page 126, Rothbard claims that the nickel-copper small cent was hoarded (true) and exported (not true). Rothbard also asserts: "The penny shortage was finally alleviated when a debased and lighter-weight penny was issued in the spring of 1864, consisting of bronze instead of nickel and copper." This is contradicted by several facts. 
First, the Mint changed from the alloy of 88% copper 12% nickel simply because it was too hard. Dies wore out. (The Mint adopted nickel because of the influence of Joseph P. Wharton.) In addition, mintage figures from the years in question disprove Rothbard's claim.
1859 Copper-Nickel 36,400,000
1860 Copper-Nickel 20,566,000
1861 Copper-Nickel 10,100,000
1862 Copper-Nickel 28,075,000
1863 Copper-Nickel 48,840,000
1864 Copper-Nickel 13,740,000 
1864 French Bronze 39,233,714
1865 French Bronze 35,429,286
1866 French Bronze  9,826,500
(and so on)

Also, the collateral striking of the same coin in two different metals in 1864 casts doubt on "Gresham's (so-called) Law."

Rothbard raged against the National Bank system created by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. The truth is more interesting. The National Bank Acts of 1863 required the deposit of gold with the Treasury.  In return, banks got Treasury bonds, which paid interest. They could issue their own National Bank Notes worth up to 90% of the value of the bonds.  This was, in fact, a gold-based demand banking system. And some banks failed, nonetheless. Moreover, contrary to the baseless claims of Rothbard, after 1863, state banks did revive; and they continued up to the 1933 mass closings.  Rothbard just tailored his history.  

Clearing House Certificates were an ad hoc currency 
created by banks to clear their books during contractions. 
This, others, and their story at
Market Oracle (UK)
Discussing the origins of the evil Federal Reserve Bank, Rothbard wrote of the Panic of 1907 without a word of the Clearinghouse Scrip that served the banks through the crisis.  Those vouchers demonstrated an ad hoc market solution to the (highly putative) "problem" of credit contraction.  That story would help prove the claim that the Federal Reserve System was not necessary. Rothbard was more interested in blaming the Federal Reserve than in writing about the free market.