March 18, 1900, is the birthday of the modern Ajax football club. Four days before the club founder Floris Stempel sent his friends a letter with an invitation to a meeting at the East India Cafe, and on Sunday morning of the 18th, he decided to create a team called “Football Club Ajax.”
Meaning and History
The Ajax logo contained the image of Ajax’s football player, placed in a circle, and words understandable to everyone – where the club comes from and how it is called. The footballers played in a form with vertical red and white stripes and black shorts.
Eleven years later, designers added a legendary vertical wide red-colored strip on a T-shirt and painted the shorts in white. Accordingly, the Ajax logo experienced some color changes.
The team had been performing with this logo for nine years, but at the celebration of the 25th anniversary, the team’s executives decided on a radical step and changed the Ajax logo completely. From the former logo, there was only a round form and the inscription with the name of the team. A drawing of the Ajax character’s head was placed in the circle, and the inscription was applied to the left, and on the right, they recalled the typical club colors. The image was placed on a porcelain plate, and officially the change of the logo was announced in the newspaper of the club news on September 20, 1928.
Over the years, the Ajax logo had been becoming more and more recognizable. It had existed for 65 years, but then it was time to change the emblem. The drawing was simplified, and one new feature was added, emphasizing that it is a football club. The designers painted 11 new lines on the new Ajax emblem, symbolizing the number of players in the team on the field.
In total, the club changed its logo three times through history, but the fourth version of the Ajax logo, adopted in 1990, remains unchanged until this time.
1900 – 1911
Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax was created in 1900. At the same time, its first emblem appeared, which happened quite rarely in the world of sports: many teams at the dawn of their existence did without graphic signs. The drawing’s semantic content was straightforward: an AFC Ajax player in a white jersey with red stripes and black shorts. A black and white ball indicated the connection with football. The character was in a light circle inside a red ring with the words “AMST. FOOTBALL-CLUB AJAX “.
1911 – 1928
The logo changed when the team first earned the Eerste Klasse title and moved to the top division. The redesign was to update the equipment because it matched the color of the uniform of the Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam, and clothing for away matches did not exist at that time. As a result, a new AFC Ajax home kit appeared on the emblem: white shorts and a shirt of the same color with two red vertical lines – on the back and the chest. At the same time, the red tint became a little brighter.
1928 – 1991
In 1928 the owners of the team decided to associate the emblem with the name. As a result, the artists depicted an ancient Greek hero named Ajax, deployed in profile. On his headdress were painted other mythological characters – centaurs. On the left was the inscription “AJAX,” on the right was a quadrangular coat of arms with a round base, divided by a black diagonal line into two parts.
The upper half of the shield was red; the lower half was white. All elements were inside a double ring. In shape, color, and composition, this logo was reminiscent of the design from the club’s anniversary porcelain plate, which appeared in 1925.
1991 – present
The 1928 emblem lasted 62 years, but it was not simple enough for commercial use. Therefore, in 1990, designers made the Ajax portrait abstract and minimalist, removing the obstructing details. They removed the coat of arms and the black ring, adding a new frame in the form of red arched stripes and the words “AJAX,” “AMSTERDAM.”
Font and Color of the Emblem
The Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax logo traditionally depicts the mythological character Ajax, one of two eponymous ancient Greek heroes who took part in Troy’s siege. The eleven lines that make up the portrait represent the same number of football players. Another important element is the three gold-colored five-pointed stars. They are at the very top and represent the many club titles in the Dutch Eredivisie.
The word “AJAX” uses a sans-serif font that was introduced in the logo back in 1911. Both “A” s are shaped like a similar letter written in the Kurversbrug typeface. This is indicated by the characteristic underestimated position of the vertical stroke. The “J” and “X” signs do not belong to Kurversbrug, although this font has been found on all AFC Ajax soccer jerseys since 2017. The word “AMSTERDAM” is executed in a classic grotesque style.
All graphic signs contain the colors of the city of Amsterdam: black, white, and red. They are taken from the captain’s armband and are part of the club’s official palette. In the latest version of the emblem, the six diagonal lines around the edges are red, the abstract portrait and lettering are black, and white serves as a general background.