A teddy bear is a soft toy in the form of a bear. Developed apparently simultaneously by toymakers Morris Michtom in the U.S. and Richard Steiff in Germany in the early years of the 20th century, and named after President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the teddy bear became an iconic children's toy, celebrated in story, song, and film. Since the creation of the first teddy bears which sought to imitate the form of real bear cubs, "teddies" have greatly varied in form, style, color, and material. They have become collector's items, with older and rarer "teddies" appearing at public auctions. Teddy bears are among the most popular gifts for children and are often given to adults to signify love, congratulations, or sympathy.
Commercially made, mass-produced teddy bears are predominantly made as toys for children. These bears either have safety joints for attaching arms, legs, and heads, or else the joints are sewn and not articulated. They must have securely fastened eyes that do not pose a choking hazard for small children. These "plush" bears must meet a rigid standard of construction in order to be marketed to children in the United States and in the European Union.
There are also companies, like Steiff, that sell handmade collectible bears that can be purchased in stores or over the Internet. The majority of teddy bears are manufactured in countries such as China and Indonesia. A few small, single-person producers in the United States make unique, non-mass-produced teddy bears. In the United Kingdom one small, traditional teddy bear company remains, Merrythought, which was established in 1930. Mohair, the fur shorn or combed from a breed of long haired goats, is woven into cloth, dyed and trimmed. Alpaca teddy bears are made from the pelt of an alpaca because the fiber is too soft to weave. In addition to mohair and alpaca, there is a huge selection of "plush" or synthetic fur made for the teddy bear market. Both these types of fur are commercially produced.
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