"Cone or loaf sugar was the most highly refined and sweetest form of sugar. Women used sugar nippers to cut lumps from the cone for the sugar bowl, or else pounded the lumps into a fine powder to serve with fruit or sweets. As granulated sugar became available in the 1890s, sugar nippers became obsolete."
—Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 124
Also, quoted in the above,
"The cutting of this cone of sugar into lumps of equal size and regular shape was distinctly the work of the mistress and daughters of the house. It was too exact and too dainty a piece of work to be entrusted to clumsy and wasteful servants."