Gold inlaid Korean knife
One of the finest pieces of Korean metalwork known to me.
Japanese art market
This Korean knife is represents of the finest forms of Korean metalwork known to me. It is made of a copper-gold alloy that has been specially patinated to a deep black, resembling Japanese shakudo.
The blade is inlaid with classical Chinese poems about swords, executed in pure gold. The inlay is so fine that a microscope had to be used to determine how it was done. See the photo with a character and the tip of a ballpoint. Despite the small scale, the characters are executed with great precision, and even on a microscopic level, still appear as fine calligraphy with beautiful pointed strokes.
Unfortunately, the tip of the blade is broken, perhaps intentionally to make it unsuitable as a weapon. This may have happened in Japan just after World War II, when many weapons were damaged or destroyed before special regulations made the posession of "art weapons" legal again.