Coat of Arms

Inscribed in 1579 in the epitaph of the grave of Nicolaus I Gercken is at least an excerpt of the coat of arms used by the foundation. Nicolaus I was the grandfather of the founder, Nicolaus III Gercken (1555-1610).  Nicolaus I is also referred to as the progenitor of the foundation. One hypothesis says that he created the coat of arms when working as a merchant or as First Mayor of Salzwedel Neustadt. It is also possible that his forefathers already carried it as free farmers. The authenticity of the coloring is unproven. The colored version depicted below stems from a glass window in the town hall of Salzwedel.

A variant of the coat of arms of 1579 was used in 1777 by  Valentin Friedrich Gercken in his seal. This is documented in “The Siebmacher“, the heraldic encyclopedia in Germany. Issue V. 8., table 63 shows the depicted seal, which is preserved in the Secret Prussian State Archives (Geheimes Preussisches Staatsarchiv). Near the top, the coat of arms shows three roses. Near the bottom, three leaves of clover grow out of a hill. The helmet contains a branch with five leaves of clover between two buffalo horns.

Not being a descendant of the progenitor, Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer served from 1934 to 1954 as proxy of the foundation’s patron. His version of the coat of arms is used in the foundation’s stamp, letter head and web site.

Any descendent of Nicolaus I. Gercken who bears his last name may bear the coat of arms. Spelling variants are permissible. Women can only bear the coat until marriage. The founder left no specific rules. Any founder of a coat of arms can declare in a coat statute who shall bear the coat in the future. If this remains undeclared, the male descendents may bear the coat. This rule is unacceptable in today’s world. In the past, women had the choice to bear the coat of their husbands or of their fathers. A coat founder is free to include women in the group of those who may bear the coat.

Coat of arms of the founder's grandfather, Nicolaus I Gercken, 1501-1579.
Coat of arms, seal used by Valentin Friedrich Gercken in 1777.
One of the few preserved seals of the foundation. The coat of arms is depicted in the middle. The inscription says: Gerckensches Familien-Stipendium.
Coat of arms of the foundation as depicted in a glass window in the town hall of Salzwedel. FotoClub Salzwedel e.V. for NGS.