AOFB – Lubrication in Moderation


Who Were The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers?

Most of us will have heard of the Freemasons and some of my subscribers may even know of their inner workings. The Royal Andediluvian Order of Buffaloes may also be familiar, but I reckon not many have heard of that other fraternal organisation, the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers.

Detail from the AOFB handkerchief-Click to Enlarge: Wikipedia

Neither had Canadian detectorist Ralph, until the day he made an interesting and fascinating discovery. He was out on a dig with a group of friends when he unearthed a cufflink bearing the initials AOFB, standing for the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers. Ralph is an Administrator and known as ‘GpSnoopy’ on the premier Canadian Metal Detecting forum. Worth checking out!

The wearing of cufflinks when attending a meeting or ceremonial occasion was checked by ‘shooting the linen’ – standing and thrusting the arms forward so that shirt cuffs were ‘shot forwards’ from jacket sleeves exposing them. Failure to wear the cufflinks could result in a forfeit or monetary fine. Forfeits included having to buy ‘drinks all round’ or telephoning a random number and singing the Froth Blowers Anthem.

The organisation was formed by Bert Temple as a joke in the mid to late 1920’s, when a group of philanthropists got together to raise money for the needy. They are almost forgotten now, but I suppose they were the ‘Comic Relief’ of the day, raising lots of money for charity.

From Wikipedia: “The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers was a humorous British charitable organisation “to foster the noble Art and gentle and healthy Pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of-leisure and ex-Soldiers”. Running from 1924-1931, it was founded by Bert Temple, an ex-soldier and silk-merchant, initially to raise £100 (equal to £4,976 today) for the children’s charities of the surgeon Sir Alfred Fripp.”

They spread across the world and attracted at least two thirds of a million members. They also had a slogan ‘Lubrication in Moderation’ and a theme song based on an old British folk song and popular children’s song, that many of you may be familiar – The More We Get Together.

Meetings were held in ‘Vats’, primarily pubs, clubs and hotels where alcohol and food was available. The history of the AOFB is fascinating and I recommend that you take a look at the website It appears that Ralph’s cufflink played an important part in the ceremonies.

Vintage Comic Postcard 1930s Ancient Order of Froth Blowers AOFB

Membership for life was five shillings and included a pair of silver enamelled cufflinks for the guys and a silver bracelet for the ladies, but that didn’t raise much money. Instead, fines were extracted from members for misdemeanours at Vat meetings for not wearing the cufflinks. As they sat down to dine and drink, the command, “Gentlemen, shoot your linen” would ring out, and all members would have to thrust their hands forward. Anyone without cufflinks or bracelet would have to pay a fine.

CLICK to enlarge

The cufflinks came with the Membership ‘Book of Ritual’ as part of the life membership to the A.O.F.B. and were to be worn ‘on all occasions of festivity, or thirst’. Originally issued to females as well as males, they were ‘later replaced’ by a Fairy Belles Wristlet for female members as the Order expanded.


It’s interesting to note that all AOFB paraphernalia, from cufflinks onwards, were made by the Birmingham Medal Company who employed disabled veterans of the Great War. Sadly, the organisation folded in 1931, but Ralph and his friends’ Brew Crew have evolved and matured into the ‘Ancient Order of Froth Blowers’, so keeping the tradition alive. They are not alone. A Friends of the Froth Blowers website has been established and there is also a Facebook page. described as “Everything A.O.F.B. and anything to keep the memory alive.” Check it out if you are able. Oh, and I’ll stand a pint for the first reader who sends me a picture of a cufflink they’ve found whilst detecting!

The cufflinks came with the Membership ‘Book of Ritual’ as part of the life membership to the A.O.F.B. and were to be worn ‘on all occasions of festivity, or thirst’. Originally issued to females as well as males, they were ‘later replaced’ by a Fairy Belles Wristlet for female members as the Order expanded.

Here is the Chairman’s Chain of Office showing lots of detailed enamel work. The main front section has a picture of the jolly brewer sitting on a cask of ale, the word Chairman is in royal blue enamel on a scroll above and “Lubrication in Moderation” is also written blue enamelled scrolls. Notice that The AOFB logo is on cufflink style oblongs.

The AOFB (as it was) ceased to be on the 8th December 1931

From I learn that there was a charity still in existence in 2007 – The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers Girl Guides and Boy Scouts Charity, reg no. 05348658, which administered and ran the ‘Heartsease’ Guide and Scout hut at West Wickham, set up by Sir Alfred Fripp with AOFB funds.

Sir Alfred Fripp

At the time of his retirement from Guy’s Hospital in 1925, Fripp was famous in London and environs: when he died in 1930, he was a household name throughout the Empire. In 1924, he performed life-prolonging abdominal surgery on a patient called Bert Temple. Bert formed Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers in order to raise £100 – in life-membership fees (5/-) and fines at meetings. This took a year. Then, in 1926, the Sporting Times advertised it and it took off. In four years Fripp, who was ‘No. 1’ to Bert’s ‘No. 0’, attended over two hundred AOFB functions and received in excess of £100,000 from the 688,000 Froth Blowers who had joined by 1930

In 1927, he helped to establish the West Wickham Home of Recovery for Children with Heart Disease, and the AOFB endowed 17 of its 50 beds at a cost of £8,500. It endowed at least 30 other ‘cots’ in other parts of the country. At the same time, in the grounds of the West Wickham Home, a still extant Girl Guide hut, called Heartsease, was built specifically for East End children. Over 600 needy causes were helped by the Order, despite being the target – Fripp, in particular – of the Temperance Movement’s strong condemnation. WikipediA


This expanded article was based on a smaller item in the UK Searcher magazine

10 thoughts on “AOFB – Lubrication in Moderation”

  1. Now that sounds like a really fun order to join. If only more committee meetings were run according to their rules. I’m always amazed at what I learn from your blog, John. Thank you!

  2. Lubrication in moderation, can’t help think the world would be a better place if this was practiced by all, a great piece of social history, thank you for sharing sir.

  3. I well remember when Ralph found the cufflink John.. We had a great time trying to figure out exactly what it was.. And that, as wel all know, is much of the joy of detecting. The research

    Who ever would have thought that the AOFB would have had a member in my tiny town ot Edgewood.

    I have spent many an hour going over the ground with my detector searching for the mate to the one Ralph found. Alas; no joy as of yet.


  4. John I’m staggered by the huge amount of interesting topics you seem to always come up with!

    It’s always a joy to read and learn new things, both for here and abroad.

    I sure wish you had been one of my teachers in school.

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