The Tau cross was associated with Saint Anthony and with protection from "Saint Anthony’s fire," or ergotism, caused by consumption of spoiled rye. This beautifully engraved capsule, with an interior cavity for an allopathic herbal compound, may have belonged to a member of a confraternity of Antonines, established in England in the mid-fifteenth century and dedicated to the care of those suffering from Saint Anthony’s fire. Under the angle of each arm is a rivet stem that originally held a pearl. At the bottom edge of the cross is a hole for suspending a tiny bell.
Found at Winteringham, South Humberside, North Lincolnshire (1989); [ Sotheby's, London(July 5, 1990, lot 9)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1990-1991." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 49, no. 2 (Fall 1991). p. 20.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "One Hundred Twenty-First Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1990, through June 30, 1991." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 121 (1991). p. 35.
Husband, Timothy B. "The Winterinham Tau Cross and Ignis Sacer." Metropolitan Museum Journal 27 (1992). pp. 19-20, fig. 3, 4.
Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 249, p. 206.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 100, pp. 139, 198.
Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 145.