Public procurement today is heavily regulated in most countries. Regulation has been put in place in order to foster competitive markets, safeguard against wasteful spending and corruption and ensure equal access and opportunities. This has not always been the case however. Municipal procurement in Sweden was for example not nationally regulated until the 1970s. So, what happens if procurement is left unregulated? In my PhD project, I use a case study of construction procurement in Swedish city between 1870 and 1975 to explore this question. In this talk I will present the outlines of my work and some preliminary results.