by the pressure of the fingers against the finger-board which lies over the front of the neck; the correct positions for the formation of the intervals of the scale are indicated in some banjos by frets consisting of metal or wooden bands inlaid in the finger-board. The vibrating length of the strings from bridge to nut is 24 in. for all except the highest in pitch, known as the "chanterelle," "melody" or "thumb string," which is only 16 in. long; its tuning peg is inserted half-way up the neck. The chanterelle is not, as in other stringed instruments, in its position as the highest in pitch, but is placed next the lowest string for convenience in playing it with the thumb. In the tables of accordance here given, the chanterelle is indicated by a X. The five-stringed banjo is tuned either
The G clef is used in notation, but the notes sound an octave lower than they are written. The banjo is usually a transposing instrument in the sense that, when playing with other instruments, the A corresponds to the C of the piano or violin; the key of A major is therefore the first to be mastered. The chanterelle does not lie over the finger-board and is always played open by the thumb.
The banjo is held so that the neck is even with the left shoulder and the body rests on the right thigh; the front of the instrument is held inclined at an angle, allowing the performer to see all the strings. When played as a solo instrument, a plectrum may be used with good effect to produce rapid scale and arpeggio passages, or to produce the tremolo or sustained notes as on the mandoline (q.v.). The best results are obtained by means of a tortoise-shell plectrum about the size of a shilling, having the contact-edges highly polished, bevelled and terminating in a point. The tone of the banjo is louder and harder than that of the guitar. Chords of two, three and four notes can be played on it.
The banjo or bania of the African negro having grass strings is still in use on the coast of Guinea. The banjo was made known in England through companies of coloured minstrels from the United States, one of which came over to London as early as 1846. (K. S.)
BANK, known also as "Polish Bank" and "Russian Bank" a card-game. An ordinary pack is used. Five or six players is a convenient number. Each contributes an arranged stake to the pool. The dealer gives three cards to each player and turns up another; if this is not lower than an eight (ace is lowest) he goes on till such a card is exposed. The player on the dealer's left, without touching or looking at his cards, can bet the amount of the pool, or any part of it, that among his cards is one that is higher (of the same suit) than the turn-up. If he wins, he takes the amount from the pool; if he loses, he pays it to the pool. Each player does the same in turn, the dealer last. Whenever the pool is exhausted, a fresh stake is put into the pool. After a round is over the deal passes. No player may touch his cards until he has made his bet; the penalty is a fine to the pool of twice the stake, and the loss of his right to bet during that round.
BANKA (Banca, Bangka), an island of the Dutch East Indies, off the east coast of Sumatra, from which it is separated by Banka Strait, which is about 9 m. wide at its narrowest point. On the east, the broader, island-studded Gaspar Strait separates Banka from Billiton. Banka is 138 m. in length; its extreme breadth is 62 m., and its area, including a few small adjacent islands, 4460 sq. m. The soil is generally dry and stony, and the greater part of the surface is covered with forests, in which the logwood tree especially abounds. The hills, of which Maras in the north is the highest (2760 ft.), are covered with vegetation to their summits. Geologically, Banka resembles the Malay Peninsula, its formations being mainly granite, Silurian and Devonian slate, frequently covered with sandstone, laterite (red ironstone clay) of small fertility, and alluvium. The granite extends from W.N.W. to S.S.E., forming the short, irregular hill-chains. As these lie generally near the east coast, it follows that the rivers of the west coast are the longer. There are no volcanoes. The chief rivers (Jering, Kotta and Waringin) are navigable for some 19 m. from their mouths and are used for the transport of tin. Banka is principally noted for the production of this mineral, which was discovered here in 1710 and is a government monopoly. It occurs in lodes and as stream-tin, and is worked by Chinese in large numbers who inhabit villages of their own. The island is divided into nine mining districts, including about 120 mines, under government control, with 12,000 workmen, which have produced as much as 12,000 tons of tin in a year. From May to August, the period of the south-east monsoon, the climate of Banka is dry and hot; but the mean annual rainfall reaches 120 in. annually, rain occurring on an average on 168 days each year. The wet, cool season proper is from November to February, accompanying the north-west monsoon. The heavy rainfall is of great importance to the tin-streaming industry. The total population of the island (1905) is 115,189, including 40,000 Chinese and 70,000 natives. These last are mainly composed of immigrant Malayan peoples. The aborigines are represented by a few rude hill-tribes, who resemble in physique the Battas of Sumatra. Rice, pepper, gambier, coffee and palms are cultivated, and fishing and the collection of forest produce are further industries, but none of these is of importance. The chief town is Muntok at the north end of Banka Strait.
See H. Zondervan, Banka en Zijne bewoners (Amsterdam, 1895), with bibliography; T. Posewitz, Die Zinn-inseln im Indischen Ocean; For geology and the tin-mines, Jaarboek vor het Mijnwezen in Ned. Ind. (Amsterdam, 1877-1884).
BANKER-MARKS, or Masons' Marks. The "banker" is the stone bed or bench upon which a mason works, hence the term (so well known to the trade) of banker-marks, which, as Mr Whitley has pointed out, is more appropriate than that of masons' marks, since the setters, who are usually selected from amongst the best workmen, make no marks upon the stone (Leamington Spa Courier, 11th of August 1888). These must not be confused with other marks sometimes cut on stones as directions to the setters, and so used and employed to the present time. Banker-marks are met with throughout the civilized world, and in fact are to be found on all old buildings of consequence, ecclesiastical or otherwise. Professor T. Hayter Lewis well observed, "Go where you will, in England, France, Sicily, Palestine, you will find all through the buildings of the 12th century the same carefully worked masonry, the same masons' tool-marks, the same way of making them." Such masons' marks are to be traced graved on all the chief stones of what is known as Norman work. Norman tooling, so far as Hayter Lewis could discover, came from the north and west of Europe. Since then we get marks made with a "toothed chisel," but however or wherever chiselled the intention was the same. The system followed provided an infallible means of connecting the individual craftsman with his work, an evidence of identity that could not be gainsaid.
Naturally, because of their simplicity, certain designs were followed much more frequently than others, while occasionally some of a very elaborate character are to be detected. Undoubtedly not a few were suggestive of the initials of the names of the masons, and others were reminiscent of certain animals, objects, &c., but no proof has yet been offered of their being alphabetical in design, or arranged so as to distinguish the members of different lodges or companies; the journeymen selected any design they cared to adopt.
Singular to state, marks were chosen by gentlemen and others
- See A. H. Nassau-Kennedy, I.S.M., Banjo-Plectring.
- For the commercial "bank" see Banks and Banking.