I just bought a Penco Model A24 from eBay last month. It has a spruce top,rosewood sides and back rosewood fingerboard. It also has the zero fret. It had some damage, and I got it for around a hundred bucks. Took nearly a month to get it straightened out and glued back together (NOT my neatest job) but it is all working now and sounds great. I tune it down to D to keep it going strong and the top straight. It is a fine sounding guitar.
They were made in Japan for a Philadelphia music store, and there are still a lot of them around...they were very well made despite the low original price.
My first 12 string was a Mexican Guitarra Double' I got while in the Army in 1968. It was destroyed in 1971.
ADDED: I just bought another old 12 string, made in Korea in the '70's. It looks nearly identical to my old Penco, even though that was made in Japan about the same time...they both copied Gibson 12 strings of the time.
FWIW, the Penco guitars were made in the same factory that made Ibanez for sale in the US and Greco for sale in Japan. I have a Greco Les Paul Custom copy from the '80's that is an almost exact replica of my long gone'74 Gibson LP Custom...but I think the Greco plays and sounds better. Evidently a lot of other people do , too. The prices on these copies are climbing steadily. (It weighs at least 10 pounds, all solid mahogany.)
I will be interested to see who made my Korean 12 sting- It's labeled a Franciscan, and I think it might be made by Samick.
My first 12 string was hand made by a local luthier in Lawton, OK. in 1965. It was an ok guitar. My first name-brand 12 string guitar was a 1968 Fender Villager.
My first was a Martin D12-28 I picked up from a needy player at a festival. It needed some work. I took it up to Nazareth and had pickup put in and the neck reset and intonation set.
I loved it for a while but rosewood is really too dark for a 12 string. I sold it for way more than I paid and now I have a Takamine EF381SC maple like Springsteen plays. Much brighter. I compared it to a similar Guild and liked the Takamine better--better tone and fantastic action for a 12 string.
I just got my first 12 string ever. It's an inexpensive used Applause AA35. It's a little on the bright side but I am liking it's swirling chorus/flanger effect if gives when strummed or picked. I keep it tuned down a 1/2 step and it seems to sound nicer like that.
Mine was a Seagull Coastline 12 (although, I'd occasionally played the 12-strings other friends had, over the years). It was a pretty nice guitar, that sadly ended up getting sold during a money crunch. I've tried out other Seagulls since then. None of them seem to sound as good as that guitar sounded.