The pelican was the coat of arms of the Wagner family. As Günther Wagner (1842 - 1930) had three kids when taking control of the company - founded by Carl Hornemann (1811 - 1896) in 1832 - he had three chicks added to the pelican. So originally, the pelican was feeding three. When a fourth child was born, the number was adjusted accordingly. In 1937, the number was reduced to two. After 2003, only one lonely chick is left in the nest. You can read the details here.
Here is some tins (later made of cardboard) from my collection to show this evolution.
|This one looks older like the one below - I just bought it as a result of my research. It shows the official founding year of the company 1838 (April 28th, to be exact).|
|detail from the wrapping paper of Pelikan ink, Alfred R. Wepf collection 2015|
and here we go down to one:
Read on the Pelikan brand story: http://www.pelikan.com/pulse/Pulsar/en_US_INTL.CMS.displayCMS.151367./pelikan-the-brand