This is a famous German and sometimes Askenasic surname. Recorded in a wide range of spellings including Garber, Gerb, Gerbel, Gerber, Gerbl, Gerwere (Austrian, German, Swiss), Gerba, Gerbi (Swiss - Italian), Gerver (Dutch), Garbar (Beloruss), and possibly others, it is occupational. In medieval times it is said to have described a tanner, with the derivation being from the pre 7th centuary word 'garawen' meaning to prepare. Occupational surnames were amongst the earliest to be created, but were unusual in that they did not become hereditary until a son or sometimes a grandson, followed the father into the same line of business. Tanning being one of the most important of all early trades, it is not surprising that this is also one of the first recorded surnames. This first recording is believed to be that of Thidemannus Gerbere of Hamburg in 1258, whilst Anton Gerbel is recorded in Pforzheim in 1495. There are numerous coats of arms granted to nameholders. Possibly the earliest has the blazon of a black shield, charged with a silver fess and theron a blue lion passant.